Ben St. Ours, 35
Managing partner, CMA’s Valley Honda
Early on, Ben St. Ours set big goals for himself.
Twenty-two years ago, he became fixated on owning a car dealership after spending a week in the Florida Keys with his father on a yacht owned by Ed Lewis, a family friend and Virginia car dealer.
“I had to own a car dealership,” St. Ours said. “That was it. There was nothing else.”
When St. Ours turned 14, he started washing cars at one of Lewis’ Nissan stores as a way of inching toward the goal.
In 2018 — after earning a bachelor’s degree in business management from James Madison University and working in various sales and management roles at other dealerships — he was appointed general manager at CMA’s Valley Honda in Staunton, Va. The store is part of the Carter Myers Automotive group led by CEO Liza Myers Borches.
“It was a big step in the direction toward where I wanted to get,” he said.
During his first year as general manager, profit increased by more than $500,000 compared with the prior year, he said. In 2020, profit increased by more than $900,000.
“The happier somebody is at work, the more they’re willing to do in a day,” St. Ours said. “Increasing the number of customers coming through our door was a big part of making this a positive place.”
In January, St. Ours became the Honda store’s managing partner, owning 5 percent of the dealership and checking the box on his adolescent ambition.
“I am grateful for the team that I have that supports me every single day, that picks me up and pushes me and excites me to be better,” he said.
St. Ours also is a member of the National Automobile Dealers Association’s political action committee, part of his long-term dedication to the automotive retail industry. He said getting involved with the PAC was a “no-brainer” since it allows his voice to be heard, especially as fellow franchised dealers express concerns over emerging issues such as direct sales.
Getting involved and staying busy, after all, is second nature to him.
“I never want to just sit back and relax,” he said. “I always believe that we can achieve more.”
Having reached his ultimate goal, St. Ours is moving on to the next one: becoming part owner of more dealerships and helping others realize their own ambitions.
“Hard work is comfortable to me,” he said. “It’s when I’m sitting still that I can’t seem to figure out how to enjoy myself.”
— Audrey LaForest