Hampton Graham, 31
Vice chairman, Duval Motor Co.
Achievement: Restructured the six-dealership group, sold stores, raised money to pay down debt
Hampton Graham, 31, is the younger of two brothers who are co-vice chairmen of Duval Motor Co., a six-dealership group in Jacksonville, Fla., which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.
"What drives my brother Alex and me is shepherding this company, which is difficult considering how old it is," Hampton told Automotive News.
Graham said he's the more detail-oriented of the two brothers. "I'm kind of a numbers person by nature," he said.
The original Duval Motor store was a Ford store in Jacksonville, one of the two oldest Ford franchises in Florida, he said. "The Ford store is a 100-year-old entity. For most of our history, that was it," Graham said.
"We're pretty passionate about it, and who doesn't like passionate people?" he said of the brothers' approach to business. The group tries to recruit like-minded employees. "It creates a contagious, energetic environment," Graham said.
Like many other dealership groups, Duval Motor Co. started adding import brands in the 1970s. The group is named for Duval County, Fla. Its legal name is the Scott-McRae Automotive Group.
The group has Ford, Mazda, Acura and Honda dealerships in Jacksonville, plus Mercedes-Benz and Subaru stores, in Gainesville, Fla. During the Great Recession, the group sold its dealerships in the Tampa, Fla., area.
"We have a slightly smaller footprint starting in 2010. We had franchises in Tampa, which we sold, and took the proceeds and reduced our overall debt load," Graham said.
"In nine years, we have helped restructure a highly leveraged company with poor cash flow back to financial strength. We accomplished this by strategically paying down nearly $90 million in real estate debt," he said.
The brothers also bought out shareholders including family members and other operating partners, Graham said. "We have pretty massively restructured the company."