I don't typically end interviews with a hug. But it seemed natural after catching up with Texas dealer Carl Sewell this year.
Sewell, a retail legend if there ever was one, had just finished talking about his philosophy on customer service and the future of the industry in front of hundreds of dealers at an industry conference. I wanted to talk to him more about his influences and how he passes along the wisdom — on both life and selling cars — that he's acquired over the decades.
That brings me to the hug.
When I spoke to Sewell at length nearly six years ago, he talked about the successful treatment he'd received at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for cancer in his neck. When I mentioned I had days before found out a dear longtime friend had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, he turned the tables and started questioning me: Where is she being treated? Has she researched the best cancer hospitals for her diagnosis?
Sewell, 74, credits M.D. Anderson with saving his life, and he preaches the importance of seeking treatment at top cancer hospitals. He shares this advice with friends and acquaintances and will tirelessly push a friend facing cancer to seek out M.D. Anderson, where his wife, Peggy, has been a longtime member of the board of visitors.
My friend is now in remission. Sewell was genuinely glad to hear that update.
"It's a hell of a fight," Sewell told me. "And isn't it interesting that once it really touches you, how you want to go help the fight for the rest of your life, standing beside somebody as they go through it and making them go get the best treatment?"