Corporate controller, Doral Automotive Group
Kristina Perez-Cubas remembers sitting with her mother as a preteen in the Hialeah, Fla., warehouse where they had their family's first wholesale auto business, organizing the "red book," writing checks and having her mother sign them.
"Organizing, filing and anything of that nature I liked," she said. "I grew up doing that" for the family business. The firm hosted holiday parties at the office and roasted a whole pig in a special box, la caja china.
The family purchased Doral Lincoln in 2008 during the recession. It was a rough period to start a business. But Perez-Cubas remembers her father, an immigrant from Cuba, managed to avoid layoffs and even hired people. She attributes the dealership group's success to its familial company culture. Today, the family runs three dealerships: Doral Lincoln, Ford of Kendall and Lincoln of Cutler Bay, all near Miami. Perez-Cubas joined the dealership group full time in 2017.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Perez-Cubas remembered her father's commitment to keeping staff and maintaining morale during the recession.
"Companies try to make rash decisions that affect people, thinking that it's what's best for the company," she said. Payroll is usually the biggest expense, but layoffs "can end up costing you a lot more in the long run."
To save money, Perez-Cubas reduced the number of average days to fund a contract to six days from 10. She worked with staff to collect all aged rebates and trained employees to avoid collection issues. Perez-Cubas adjusted the company's pay plans to focus more on factory orders and spend more on preowned inventory.
In the end, Doral Automotive Group did not lay off anyone during the pandemic.
Perez-Cubas has pushed the dealership group into more organized and efficient operations, but that commitment to employees has remained the same since its first years. And while they use different systems, the family has kept the old red books for posterity, including the entries written in Perez-Cubas' adolescent hand.
"We still have them actually somewhere here in the dealership," she said.
— Molly Boigon