Jimmy Jones, 38
General manager, Hubert Vester Toyota-Scion
Jimmy Jones' mother spent her career working for car dealerships.
It was the last thing she wanted for her son.
"That was always the warning: 'Do whatever you want to do, go to college, get a degree and don't get in the car business,'" says Jones with a chuckle.
After high school graduation in 1993, Jones sold vacuum cleaners. He sold one to a man who worked at a Ford dealership in Greenville, N.C.
"I ended up applying there, and I never got around to going to college," Jones says. "My education is the school of hard knocks."
Jones worked at the Ford store for about a year, then joined a Toyota dealership in the same town to sell cars. In 1998, he left for a Toyota dealership in Goldsboro, N.C., eventually becoming its general sales manager. In 2003 Hubert Vester Toyota-Scion in the neighboring small town of Wilson, N.C., needed someone with Toyota experience and hired Jones as general manager.
"I started here on my 28th birthday," Jones says. "I wasn't really looking for it at the time, but it was a great opportunity to be a general manager of a dealership under the age of 30. It's worked out great!"
Jones embraces technology to communicate better with customers and he hosts quarterly customer dinners at the dealership. Both have built customer loyalty.
And the result is a boost in vehicle sales and service revenues.
Before 2003, under a different owner, the store sold about 55 to 65 new and used vehicles a month. Since June 2003, when Hubert Vester bought the store, monthly sales average 120 total vehicles, with the highest being 168.
Service repair orders grew to 19,447 in 2012 from 6,431 in 2004.
"We have an enormous amount of staff for our small store," Jones says. "We value the customer's time. If you have to wait for someone to come speak to you, you lose interest."
Jones puts a team together well and holds everyone accountable, says Hubert Vester, owner of Hubert Vester Automotive Group.
"Jimmy is a very highly motivated individual," Vester says. "He is team oriented" and has a "good business mind."
Vester says Jones is a "workaholic" who's competitive and thorough.
Jones says his mother taught him his work ethic and challenged him to succeed.
"As a long-term automotive veteran, her passion for me not to enter the business has always pushed me to be as successful as possible," Jones says. "I guess I'm still a kid trying to prove her wrong!"
-- Jamie LaReau