Paige Fox, 34
Vice president, Fox Auto Team
Paige Fox's goal in automotive retail was to earn her position at the top.
The daughter of a dealer, Fox spent her weekends as a teenager doing odd jobs at one of her father's Toyota dealerships in El Paso, Texas. But her career branched away from retail thanks to an all-too-common hurdle for women in the auto industry: the absence of other female employees to be role models. She decided to become a teacher.
"When I was younger, I didn't see a lot of women in the industry," Fox said. "I thought, 'Maybe I can't do it.' "
But the times quickly caught up with her aspirations. She saw more women being featured in Automotive News, she said. Forgoing a teaching degree, Fox landed a role at Gulf States Marketing, a subsidiary of Gulf States Distributors, in 2011. She offered web support and consulting to Toyota dealerships. In 2016, Fox returned to her family's business.
She cut her teeth at the group's underperforming Acura store, where she made many mistakes.
"I didn't really know much about what I was doing," Fox said. "But I knew, the only way we can go is up."
Everything changed when Fox hired a new general manager who shared her vision for the store.
"Suddenly, I wasn't alone," she said. "We were able to slowly hire more people that were not just working for a paycheck but for something more."
Fox also wanted employees to feel respected and acknowledged, establishing an associate dashboard to keep track of birthdays and work anniversaries. At the onset of the pandemic, each employee received a $1,000 check.
When Fox pitched ideas to improve profitability, there was increased buy-in.
One successful program for the finance-and-insurance department is the Fox Certified Program for vehicles under 75,000 miles and includes coverage for engine components, manual transmission and other features. Sales of the product have contributed to a jump in average F&I profit per vehicle sold in 2020, from $1,319 to $1,548.
For Fox, the next steps are helping her dealerships overcome the pandemic and succeeding as a leader in her community.
Her goal is to be a role model to women and others. "It's an enormous responsibility that I don't take lightly," she said.
— Jackie Charniga