Melisa Eichbauer, 37
General manager, Findlay Volkswagen Henderson
Melisa Eichbauer got her start in the automotive industry by accident. After having doubts about her criminal justice studies in college, Eichbauer took a semester off and applied for an entry-level sales job at a Volkswagen dealership. Once she began selling cars, she never attended another criminal justice course.
Her auto retail resume demonstrates her ability to handle various jobs thrown at her: She’s held positions in sales, service, finance and the Internet department. Eventually, Eichbauer was promoted to general manager.
When her daughter was born in 2015, Eichbauer’s career took on a new purpose.
“Working now had to meet a two-fold [purpose]: It had to be worth it for me to be away from my daughter and, more importantly, I had to lead by example and show her that she can be a leader in an industry where she’s not the traditional choice if she works hard,” Eichbauer said.
Eichbauer has worked hard to justify that promotion to Findlay Automotive Group’s first female general manager. In 2018, profits at the Findlay VW store she oversees in Henderson, Nev., jumped 24 percent, primarily due to the implementation of processes that helped boost the customer-pay business and drove higher customer satisfaction. For example, the service department improved service time in the shop and installed technology that helped it complete additional customer service requests quickly and professionally.
Eichbauer remains Findlay’s sole female general manager across its 35 dealerships. For her, that imparts special meaning to her work.
“My role is about representing opportunity for everyone based on their skills and passion,” she said. “This includes women, youth, those with different sexual orientations and more.”
She added: “Just because a place has never done it before doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.”
— Danielle Szatkowski