Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio
Education: Ohio University, Athens, Ohio
What is the biggest business challenge you have faced?
Keeping up with the times. With a company that’s as old as we are, you have to do that. If we ran it the way my grandfather ran it, we wouldn’t be successful.
My grandfather would never think that a female family member should become a vice president. That’s changed tremendously in the last 25 years. We have women run our dealerships. Thirty years ago, that was unheard of. We used to say, ‘Buy your car where your father bought his car.’ That’s gone. Now, we have to convince women this is the place to buy the car. Now, something like 50 percent of the car purchase decisions are made by women, so you have to gear your advertising to that.
Being the third generation of a company with other family members involved, the hardest thing is to get along with all of the relatives. My son who’s the president now does a better job than I did.
What is the most important business lesson you have learned?
When you’re young, you have your ideas and you might not listen to other people. The older you get, the more you need to listen. Before you make a decision, talk to younger people. My daughter says the Internet’s the way to go. The last survey I saw showed that 26 percent of our sales started on the Internet, not in the showroom.
Fast facts for Byers Holding Co.:
2007: Sales revenue of $320 million projected 2006: Sales revenue of $315 million