In this world of male-dominated dealers, its rare that we run into females, or for that matter, a sister who has her own dealerships. As a tribute to Women's History Month 2005, we would like to shine the headlights on Ms. Elaine Fairhurst, owner of Hunstsville Autoplex, Huntsville, Alabama. Nationally, less than 4 percent of dealerships are owned by women. Needless to say, ethnic minority women make up an even smaller piece of the pie.
According to Black Enterprise Magazine Annual Auto Dealers list for 2005, Ms. Fairhurst is one of the top 50 dealers in the country. She recently spoke briefly with JeffCars about the path she has traveled to become an automobile dealer.
J: Are you the first and only African-American female dealer in the country to date to own a Lexus dealership?
EF: Yes, as far as I know.
J.When were you first given the opportunity to own a Lexus dealership?
EF: In 1999, I received a letter of intent from Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., and I opened the store in December of 2000. (Three other African Americans were also given a letter of intent in 1999. Prior to this, no Lexus stores were owned by African Americans.)
J. When did you acquire your first dealership?
EF: The first store I acquired was a Chrysler-Plymouth franchise in Fayetteville, North Carolina in 1988. (She now owns a Dodge, an Infiniti and a Lexus store in Huntsville, Alabama. When she decided to open her Dodge store in Alabama, she beat the odds against two of her male counterparts who had previously failed in running the dealership.)
J. How did you acquire the first dealership?
EF: Because of my entrepreneurial nature, I decided to leave my 17 years of marketing experience with Ford Motor Corporation to join Chrysler's minority training program for dealers. (Ms. Fairhurst was the second African-American dealer in the country to own a Chrysler dealership. Many of the non-ethnic women who own stores today have acquired them through family legacy. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for most minority dealers.)
J. What was your personal capital investment for your first dealership?
EF: A lot of money! Fortunately, I had a great stock option/savings plan with Ford Motor Corporation. I was also able to secure a loan. (For personal reasons, Ms. Fairhurst chose not reveal the actual dollar amount. However, according to a 1988 article featured in Essence, it was reported that Ms. Fairhurst used more than $150,000 in savings for her first Dodge store in 1992; Chrysler financed the balance.)
J. How can our readers find you on the Web?
EF: Visit HuntsvilleAutoplex.com.
(You can also purchase a vehicle from one of her stores while you're purchasing a vehicle from one of her stores while visiting Huntsville's U. S. Space and Rocket Center. In 2015, Fairhurst currently has Lexus store and chain of used cars stores in her portfolio.)
Provided by jeffcars.com, 3/2005