Thomas Mihok, 38
General manager, Audi Wilmington
Right out of high school, Thomas Mihok started his career in the automotive industry on the bottom rung as a lot guy at a Dover, Del., dealership.
He later joined Audi Wilmington and began his climb through various positions and departments — from the back end of the store to the sales side. He was named general sales manager and ultimately the general manager.
As a leader, Mihok said he is straightforward and hits every issue, project and situation head-on.
“I’m very open and transparent about everything that’s going on in the dealership,” he said.
As general manager he shifted the strategy of the dealership to be primarily fixed ops oriented by implementing changes, including hiring a new service manager. As a result, gross profit increased by 30 percent from 2016 to 2019. The dealership also recently earned Audi’s top customer loyalty honors out of the Philadelphia-area dealerships.
Leading through a crisis was something he had never faced. The pandemic hit just as a year and a half of renovations were wrapping up at the dealership.
“It was a gut check. At any time things can be flipped upside down,” he said. “Just because you have a fancy building and cool cars doesn’t guarantee you’re going to always make it.”
Through motivation from his wife and the work ethic of his staff, he decided to use the time to get organized within the dealership. He labeled the process “COVID Catch-Up.”
It was a time to take photos of new-car inventory, organize the store and create new video content.
“It was the perfect time where we were able to finally catch up on general housekeeping,” he said.
Throughout the pandemic, it was important for Mihok to keep a positive mindset and encourage his employees to do the same.
“We didn’t go through all of this last year to get taken out by COVID,” Mihok said.
— Whitney McDonald