Car Pros Automotive Group has grown from a used car lot with two employees to an automotive group with over 500 employees and seven stores in two states, selling over 2,000 cars per month. According to the CEO, Stevie Award-winner Matthew Phillips, MBA, the success of Car Pros is directly related to its mission of changing lives through a high-performance, value-led dealership culture.
From Lot to Leadership
Matthew is a passionate automotive retail executive, growing the company from a used car lot with two employees into a company with annual sales of $1 billion, while at the same time breaking multiple molds in a tradition-bound industry.
Automotive retailing tends to be dominated by men, hierarchy, and traditional internal combustion vehicles. As an LGBTQ+ person, Matthew believes in empowering people, particularly under-represented groups. His 20-year journey from “lot to leadership” provides a real-world perspective on how to build high-performance workplace cultures, informing his personal brand of metric-driven accountability based on industry experience, leadership, and continued education.
He holds MBAs from Cornell University, NY, and Queen’s University, Ontario; an MA in Organizational Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University; and a BA in Accounting from University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA. Matthew is also a graduate of the National Automobile Dealers Association’s Dealer Academy.
Not only is Matthew a maverick in showing the industry how it can evolve, but as a board member of the Washington State Dealers Association and of Kia’s National Dealer Council, he works from the inside to promote positive change and demonstrate that the franchised dealer system is ready to meet the needs of customers and communities now and in the future.
In the automotive industry, DE&I progress has been slow but steady: Hireology reports that while many dealerships say DE&I is an important issue, only 24% are aware of DE&I best practices at their dealerships — an indication of awareness but not enough action.
Matthew’s personal experience reflects this reality of evolving change toward inclusiveness and tolerance. He sees DE&I as the foundation of today’s high-performance retail operation and believes that diversity of experiences is mission critical to selling successfully: your customers are diverse, so your team better be as well.
“Inclusive leadership is about changing the paradigm,” says Matthew. “We sell cars by empowering people to sell cars. We were one of the first to provide insurance for domestic partners and adopt anti-discrimination policies. We’ve been at the forefront of training for inclusivity and have worked to make our dealerships welcoming places for everyone.” What has been most rewarding for Matthew, he says, is when his commitment to authenticity has given others the courage to be successful in their most authentic way.
Matthew continues to drive real change for the betterment of car buyers. He seeks to represent the future of automotive retail, shifting to meet the needs resulting from the adoption of technology, assessing economic realities, and broadening consumer expectations.
Car Pros Automotive Group CEO Matthew Phillips won a Silver Stevie Award for Maverick of the Year in The 2023 American Business Awards®.
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