Perry Watson was a sales manager for Xerox Corp., and his wife, Ida, was an account marketing rep for IBM Corp. They had good jobs, yes. Yet they dreamed of owning a business.
So when they walked into their friend's dealership for the first time in 1988, it hit them: They would own a dealership.
"He was celebrating his grand opening, and when we walked into the dealership, we turned to one another and said, 'This is it,' " recalls Ida Watson, who at that time was juggling a career and raising four children.
"It was karma; it was divine guidance," she says. "We just knew."
Perry Watson applied for and was accepted into Chrysler's minority dealer training program in January 1990. Today, the Watsons own Brookdale Dodge in Brooklyn Center, Minn.
Their business truly is family owned and operated. Working alongside dealer Perry Watson is Ida Watson, the store's information systems manager. Perry Jr., 32, is a graduate of the NADA Academy and the store's business development manager. His wife, Monica, is the rental car manager.
Sons Robert, 23, who is completing his M.B.A. at Florida A&M University this year, and A.J., 20, a business major at Howard University, are being groomed to join the business. Daughter, Maya, 17, is in high school, but there is a good chance she'll join the family business one day as well.
The Watson clan took up most of a table at the Roaring 1920s-themed DaimlerChrysler Minority Dealer Development banquet Friday. Robert balked and rolled his eyes playfully as his mom instructed him how to tilt his 1920s-style fedora for a family photo.
Ida Watson, the proud wife, mom and businesswoman, smiled broadly.