Brian Singh, 34
General manager, Parkway Family Mazda and Parkway Family Kia
Brian Singh got his first dealership job after answering a newspaper ad when he was 19. He started in parts, moved on to service and then became manager of fixed operations for a five-store auto group.
The Florida native took to the industry because it rewarded hard work with relatively strong wages and commission.
“The fact that you can have a wonderful career financially in this business was a huge attraction to me,” he said.
Singh rose through the ranks quickly, but there was a small impediment to his goal of becoming a general manager: He had never worked on the sales side, which is the nearly universal path to reach the top of the dealership organizational chart.
“I was at a very interesting crossroads,” he said. “I had a lot of people telling me that I needed to go on the sales side, that I needed to start over. I told myself that I could defy this. I don’t have to follow the conventional wisdom that you have to go through sales.”
Singh’s strong performance in fixed operations, along with attending the National Automobile Dealers Association’s General Dealership Management Program, eventually helped him to make the leap to general manager two and a half years ago. “The ownership here took a big chance on that.”
Singh now manages Parkway Family Mazda and Parkway Family Kia, both in Kingwood, Texas.
The gamble paid off quickly. In 2019, the Kia store reached a new-vehicle sales record. And Singh sold some of those cars himself as general manager.
He also shepherded the Kia and Mazda stores through the coronavirus crisis.
The dealerships remained open for sales and service while following state and local safety guidelines, which allowed most employees to keep working.
While financial security was an initial attraction to the business, he said, mentoring is now his favorite part of the job.
“I guess there’s a little bug in me that likes to teach, and maybe I would have become a teacher.”
Singh’s free time revolves around family. He met his wife at his first dealership job and has two small children. “Just giving them the attention and love they need. It’s just work and family.”
— Laurence Iliff