Emanuel Jones II, 27
Dealer director/general manager, Legacy Automotive Group
Achievement: Drastically increased dealership profitability and sales
Emanuel Jones II grew up in the automotive industry, but it took a stint in medical school for him to realize selling cars was his passion.
After spending his teens working in a variety of low-level jobs at his father's Ford and Hyundai dealerships near Atlanta, Ga. — part of the Legacy Automotive group — Jones decided to leave home to become a doctor. But three years into his studies at Johns Hopkins University, he realized he was more into sheet metal than syringes.
"It was more of a family-oriented sense of responsibility," Jones said. "We had a family business. It was a search-for-your-passion kind of thing."
After deciding to switch career paths, he applied to work for his father at Legacy Automotive and began a self-described "deep dive" into the industry through a variety of roles as part of the NADA dealer candidate academy. He eventually made his way to the sales department, and in 2016 was named general manager.
But it hasn't been an easy climb.
His father, Georgia state Sen. Emanuel Jones, has been hard on him from the beginning. It took two days for him to respond to his son's initial job application, and he's quick to call him out in meetings if his phone goes off.
"My dad is a very proud man, and he didn't take it light on me," he said. "I've always been pushed, and he's always expected great things from me."
Last year, Legacy Ford increased its profitability 90 percent, Jones said. Legacy Hyundai's profitability soared 120 percent.
While he runs day-to-day operations, Jones credits a strong, highly motivated team for the group's success.
"We keep a respectable, no-nonsense environment where everyone is to be respected," he said. "I know that with the culture we are creating with staff, we will continue to break year-over-year records and grow the business."
Jones eventually hopes to succeed his father as dealer principal and grow the Legacy Automotive group to as many as five dealerships and continue to build a strong management team.
Beyond the living it has provided for his family and the relationships he's been able to build with his co-workers, Jones said he's mostly drawn to the auto industry because of its impact on the rest of society.
"I'm proud to be part of this industry," he said.
"It's one of the most responsive businesses when it comes to the economy, and it's a driving force when it comes to anticipating what's to come."