Taylor Grubaugh, 37
Dealer principal, Taylor Grubaugh Chevrolet-Buick-GMC
When Taylor Grubaugh was 11, his art teacher instructed the class to make a lighthouse from clay. Grubaugh molded a Chevrolet dealership instead.
“I’ve still got that. It’s kind of been an inspiration to me because it’s always reminded me of my goal and my dream,” he said. “Since I was 11 years old, I’ve known what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a Chevrolet dealer.”
At 34, his dream came true. He became dealer principal of Taylor Grubaugh Chevrolet-Buick-GMC in West Plains, Mo. Next, he wants to expand into a group of stores co-owned with his employees.
Grubaugh didn’t grow up around the business, like many other kids who dream of running a dealership. He comes from a family of cattle farmers, and when his dad stopped by a Chevy dealership to trade in his trucks, Grubaugh got to tag along. During his first visit, a salesman gave him a Chevy brochure that he read cover to cover.
After that, “I’d say, Dad, let’s drive through the car lot, let’s look at the new Chevys,” Grubaugh said.
When Grubaugh turned 16, his grandmother gave him his late grandfather’s 1986 Chevy Silverado. He restored it in 2010 and displays it in his showroom today.
Grubaugh became dealer principal of his store in April 2020 after working in dealerships since 2003. Before he acquired the store, it was averaging 25 new and used vehicle sales a month. Sales more than tripled in 2021, and the store sold a record 122 vehicles this March.
He also has boosted the dealership’s profits by more than $1.8 million last year compared with 2019.
Much of the dealership’s success has come from Grubaugh’s experience with used-vehicle sourcing. He buys many cars from local residents and ran a radio spot advertising the dealership as a place to not only buy cars, but also to sell them. He obtains about 20 vehicles a month from the community.
Next, Grubaugh wants to expand. He created an investment group to build the capital needed to buy his store and wants to use the group to invest in others’ goals of running dealerships. The stores would be part of Grubaugh’s dealership group, but managers who run the stores would have an ownership stake, he said.
“I’ve set a new goal to help others become a dealer,” Grubaugh said. “That’s really what I want to do.”
— Hannah Lutz