Carlos Vallejo, 34
General sales manager, Lexus of Wesley Chapel
Just less than a decade ago, Carlos Vallejo accompanied his sister to Williams Automotive Group's Wesley Chapel Toyota in Florida, where she was buying a car.
Vallejo, who ran his own commercial real estate firm at the time, helped his sibling negotiate a deal with the store's general manager, who ended up offering Vallejo a sales position.
"I'm not going to sell cars," Vallejo said he thought at the time. "That's not my thing."
But the seed had been planted, and it took root as Vallejo stayed in touch with the general manager and began asking more about all aspects of the car business.
Vallejo now is general sales manager at the group's Lexus of Wesley Chapel store in suburban Tampa.
He joined the Toyota store in 2013 and rose through positions such as floor sales rep, Internet manager, finance manager, desk manager and new-car director in just a four-year period.
The Lexus store opened in late 2017. Vallejo was sent there in 2018 to help improve variable processes. Under the mentorship of group Chairman John Williams, Vallejo helped usher in a new approach to used-vehicle sales that ultimately led to higher per-vehicle profits and a doubling of sales volume from 2019 to 2020.
Vallejo has assembled a diverse team of managers, overseen high retention for sales staff members and focused on empowering employees.
When he is not selling cars, the avid Formula 1 fan enjoys watching them rip through racetracks.
"I also take a lot from that industry or from that sport into the car business," Vallejo said. "The team management style can be applied to [auto retail] — just like the fast-paced nature of it."
— David Muller