For DARCARS Automotive Group, this could have been a horrible year.
On Jan. 9, the founder's daughter, Tamara Darvish, 51, sued her father and the company over control, potentially creating tension and uncertainty among nonfamily managers. On April 1, coverage of the split by The Washington Post, the group's local newspaper, prompted some readers to call for a boycott of DARCARS.
For most companies, the very public dispute would have meant damage control and a struggle to keep employees focused on the job. But DARCARS CEO John Dar-vish Jr., 42, insists it hasn't played out that way.
Asked about the challenge of keeping employees on track amid the distraction of the lawsuit, he responded, "I have to disagree with the premise of your question. I hear that question as, 'You have a mess on your hands, and you've got chaos going on.' It's simply not true.
"We have an amazing company culture at DARCARS, and our employees are now and continue to be focused on Job 1, which is serving our customers," he told Automotive News. "We've been clearly communicating, and people are not focused on this; they're focused on taking care of their customers."
The company's results, he said, prove his point: The dealership group had its best net profit ever in the first quarter.
Not that he ignored the issue.
Darvish and his brother, COO Jamie Darvish, 39, already had gone on a round of fact-finding visits to the group's stores shortly after taking control of the company in March 2014.
After the lawsuit was filed, the two hit the road again. John Darvish Jr. has visited all 21 DARCARS stores multiple times since January. In those visits, he acknowledged the lawsuit and shared store statistics to inspire employees to keep up the good work, he said.
"He's been very direct," said Robin Stein, general manager of DARCARS Nissan of College Park in Maryland. John Darvish Jr. and Jamie visited Stein's store four times in the past six months, she said. They talked about the lawsuit, saying, "If you hear a rumor [of a lawsuit], it's true. But it will not change anything on the store level," Stein said. "I think having it addressed and acknowledged helped."