Gail Faulkner, 71
CEO, Faulkner Auto Group
Location: Trevose, Pa.
Education: B.S., secondary education, Kutztown State College; M.A., English, Lehigh University
What drew you to the auto industry? I married into it. I was married to someone in 1975 that started some car stores, grouped together some car stores and ran them. And after his untimely death in 2003, I took over the business.
First automotive job: The spouse of the CEO from 1975 to 2003.
Big break: I recognized that I needed a board of directors, that I needed people to help me do this, that I really couldn’t do it alone. I saw the company as just being maintained. And therefore, to me, that means it’s going backwards. It needed to move forward. And I needed help to implement that.
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What is the major challenge you’ve faced in your career? I had no education in business. So I really had to sort of learn as I was going. And reaching a decision where I felt I could have the most impact and to recognize that I had limitations, but there were areas where I could succeed.
You’ve been in the industry 17 years. What has been the most important change you’ve seen? The impact of the Internet, computers, etc. When I started out as a young bride in 1975, it’s a very different business now than when I was married to Hank [Faulkner]. And it’s just totally changed with electronics and etc.
What work achievement are you most proud of? I became very involved with the employees, and we’ve consistently won numerous awards for best places, dealerships to work for, best places to work for in Pennsylvania. I’m very proud of that. I know many, many of my employees [and their families]. I’m very proud of that.
Describe your leadership style. Warm and welcoming.
What should be done to encourage women to enter the auto industry? I think they have to be aware of the opportunities that are there and to be made to feel that there are career paths, that women are needed. More women than men are buying cars. The industry has to be aware of that and hire more women.
Tell us about your family. My first husband and I had four children, and then the man that I married has two children. So that’s six — three boys and three girls. They’re all married. And together we have 15 grandchildren. And we thoroughly enjoy that and enjoy being with them and helping them out with them.
Are you able to achieve work-life balance? Yes, absolutely. I work a day, know what I’ve got to accomplish that day, and when I finish that, I can go home and feel good about it and not drag it home with me. And so it doesn’t interfere.
Are you able to maintain friendships? Yes. It’s important to me, actually. We have a good, healthy social life, and I make a point of that, of maintaining friendships. During COVID, every single night we Zoomed with people for cocktails. And it’s significant to me.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year, and what did you get out of it? The Warmth of Other Suns. It’s about the Black migration from the South, starting at the turn of the century and why that happened and how it happened. I think it’s given me help and perspective with the current Black Lives Matter movement. I would encourage others to understand what some of these folks have gone through. And I think that’s important, and it has definitely helped me.
— Melissa Burden