Welcome to Sconda’s first Q & A, and what a fitting topic, this weekend Andy Scott will receive the Time Quality Dealer of the Year Award for the entire state of Pennsylvania and is a nominee for the national award. Pennsylvania is chock full of new car dealers, so we are proud to highlight this honor given to Andy by the Pennsylvania Automobile Association (PAA). He will be recognized this Saturday at the National Automobile Dealers Association’s (NADA) annual convention in San Fransisco, Ca. The most remarkable aspect surrounding this award is that Andy’s Father and Uncle have both been recipients, making him the 3rd Scott to win this most prestigious honor.
The Dealer of the Year award is given to new-car dealers “who exhibit exceptional performance in their dealerships, combined with distinguished community service; creates a positive public relations forum for all new-car dealers; and provides a representative spokesperson for Dealer of the Year.”
Q: What does it mean to you to win an award won by both your father and your uncle?
A: It is both humbling and gratifying to win this award. I had two great mentors in my father, Parry Scott and my uncle Craig Scott. I learned my “people managing” skills primarily from my Dad and I gained insight into marketing and business management from both my father and my uncle. It’s pretty amazing that all three of us have been recognized for excellence in the automobile industry. It certainly says a lot about the “Scott way” of doing business.
Q: How has your membership with PAA done to help you as a dealer over the years?
A: PAA is one of the leading automotive trade associations in the United States. They represent new car dealers in the state in almost every way, including developing strong franchise agreements with our manufacturers and advocating for a fair political voice in Harrisburg and Washington. I have been a board member since 2002 and on the executive committee since 2008. Needless to say, the last two years have been extremely challenging with the economic upheaval along with the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler. Being heavily involved with PAA has given me great insight into the critical issues affecting the car business.
Q: When you started in the industry nearly 40 years ago did you ever think you would be where you are right now?
A: I am entering my 39th year in the car business. In my younger days I was totally obsessed with cars. I would always beg my Dad to bring home the latest 70′s supercar for me to try out. When I began working in my father’s dealership I had no way of knowing that I would one day own a dealership. It has been a very rewarding and challenging career. I really love the “people” part of the business. Every customer has a set of expectations that we have to try to fulfill. Fulfilling those needs on a consistent basis is what makes a dealership successful. Satisfied and engaged employees are also paramount to our success. Happy employees make happy customers. My philosophy is very much “teamwork oriented”. I believe in empowering our employees and our people want to be held accountable, so as long as they sense that they are valued and appreciated, most will give you everything they have.
Q: How has your involvement with local charities, youth athletics and other non-profits helped you manage your business and your people?
A: I learned at an early age the importance of giving back to the community. My parents were always involved in charitable causes. My philosophy has always been to be invested in our community, both financially and from a volunteer perspective. To me, the private sector needs to help to provide a “safety net” for those less fortunate. I also think, that, when you give unconditionally, you get back “ten fold”. Our dealership has a great reputation for “giving back” to our community. It is a philosophy that is part of our dealership culture.
Q: What was the most challenging time during your career as an owner?
A: We have weathered numerous recessions in my business lifetime, however, this last two years have provided my biggest challenge. From September of 2008 to June of this year we endured the loss of two franchises (Chrysler and Hummer) which caused us to reduce our workforce by about 20%. Very difficult circumstances, to say the least. The good news is that we survived, retooled a bit and are now poised to start growing again. 2010 has been significantly better than 2008 and 2009. Things are getting better and we look forward to steady improvement in the next few years.
Q: What has been the most rewarding part of your job in the automobile industry?
A: Building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with both customers and employees has been the highlight for me. From the great people who I have had the pleasure of working side by side with to the wonderful customer base that we have been fortunate enough to serve. I also have to mention my business partner Richard Salezze. Richard and I have worked together for over 30 years and he has been invaluable partner in helping to shape our vision and our culture. We compliment each other really well and it shows. He is a major reason that we have enjoyed such great success.
Q: What changes do you see coming in the industry and will they help or hurt?
A: This past recession has reduced the number of dealers and franchises. That means that the best dealers survived. All credible forecasts see strong growth over the next five years. That means to me that the future is very bright. With new technology along with improvements in quality and fuel economy, exciting new products are hitting the showrooms every month. It’s a great time to be in the car business, for sure.
Andy has five franchises in Allentown, Pa: Chevrolet, Saab, Mazda, Volvo, Cadillac and a pre-owned location called the Scott Lot. Visit them at www.ScottCars.com. Andy will also be featured in March issue of Dealer Magazine, one of the most reputable magazines in the industry.