Jeremy Soileau, 39
General manager, partner, Bolton Ford and Bolton Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram-Fiat
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated Jeremy Soileau’s first job in retailing and the year he joined Bolton Ford.
When Jeremy Soileau was in college, he told his mother that he was headed to the big city to get a job in sales.
That big city was Lake Charles, La., where he applied to the first auto dealership he saw — Nissan of Lake Charles,
"They hired me on the spot. And from there, I really never looked back," Soileau said.
Soileau spent more than seven years there, eventually serving as used-car manager. In 2009, he joined Bolton Ford, where he is now general manager. Under his leadership, the store has won 15 awards since 2018, including the brand's President's Award three times, and was named one of Ford's top 100 volume dealers in the U.S. three times.
"Our slogan is, 'Our people make the difference,' " Soileau said. "That slogan didn't come by just saying this is our new slogan. It was a process to get to the point where we can really mean it."
He views a sales staff's excitement for customers as a key to success. To maintain a consistent culture, Bolton hires salespeople through recruitment and referrals only. Staff members are trained to focus on learning what the customer wants and needs, not merely to make a sale.
But it has been a tough year to hold a sales force together. In addition to coping with the coronavirus pandemic, Lake Charles was hit by two hurricanes in 2020. The dealership's showroom was completely ripped apart, according to Soileau. Bolton Ford employees were paid consistently throughout the pandemic, and as a result of the storm damage, began to work from temporary buildings while dealing with damage to their own homes. Soileau's home also suffered damage.
Despite the damage and disruption, the store delivered on sales, achieving recognition for top new-vehicle volume among Ford stores in the automaker's Memphis region in 2020. Late in the year, Bolton acquired a Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep-Ram-Fiat store in Port Arthur, Texas, and Soileau became partner.
— Wendy Guzman