CEO, Casa Auto Group
As a young man, Ronnie Lowenfield saw two paths before him: Follow his father and grandfather into the family auto business, or follow his paternal grandfather into ministry.
The reason he ultimately chose a life in automotive retail is a telling detail that reveals the level of thoughtfulness and consideration that guides the CEO of the seven-store, 11-franchise Casa Auto Group.
“My grandfather on my mom’s side was a pastor for 40 years, and I went to seminary to see if that was the path for me,” said Lowenfield, who became CEO of the family-owned group with stores in Texas and New Mexico in 2019. “I was working full time with my father-in-law, with the Don Moore Automotive Group in Owensboro, Ky., and I was still helping out at the church on Sundays. I realized that, really at my core, I want to help improve the well-being of my community.”
However, he said, “I found that a lot of my friends that were pastors or in the church had a hard time really connecting with people that didn’t identify as religious. Working at a car lot, I was interacting with people every single day, and felt like I was actually going to be able to impact more people through working at a dealership than I ever would have in a pastoral setting.”
He recalled an impromptu gathering with several technicians in Kentucky after one of their co-workers had died, where they shared stories of their colleague and prayed.
“That was a really neat experience, and my pastor at the time was like, ‘Oh, my goodness, man, that’s incredible! There’s no way if I would have walked up with a collar on or something like that, that anybody would have listened to me.’ ”
Though Lowenfield is a third-generation auto dealer and father of five kids ages 7 to 12, with a string of growth and business achievements to his credit, Lowenfield lists his relationship with his employees as one of his biggest accomplishments.
“Casa in Spanish means ‘home,’ and that’s what my grandfather wanted his employees to think of when he chose that name for the business,” he said, recalling spending the last days with one of the company’s longtime technicians in El Paso.
“I can still very, very clearly recollect driving home, with tears just streaming down my face, knowing that was the last time I was going to see him. And he passed away,” Lowenfield said. “And then the family asked if my brother Luke and I would help carry his casket and lay him to rest, which was a really, really touching moment for me. It just highlighted what what we’re all about.”
— Larry P. Vellequette