Sowers, who earned a B.S. from Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1984, originally carved out a career in the technology sector in Texas. He served in leadership roles in sales and marketing for three tech companies before venturing into the retail automotive industry.
“I purchased Jim Butler Chevrolet in 2002 to join my wife's family business after the birth of our twins,” he said. “I turned around the sales and marketing of the dealership to become the number one seller of Chevrolets in the state of Missouri.”
Sowers also leveraged his knowledge of technology and internet marketing to gain the competitive edge. “We sell in 32 states and allow customers to buy or lease new and used cars using either a 100 percent technology-driven process, a hybrid process using chat, text, social media messaging, email and phone or the old fashioned in-person dealership buying process,” he said.
Today, he oversees the Jim Butler Auto Group, which encompasses eight dealerships in Missouri, representing brands Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Kia, Maserati and Ram. His dealerships have received numerous awards for sales, service and customer satisfaction.
“Coming from outside of the auto business, I was able to capitalize on my ability to build a team, manage a team and lead a team in a different model than most dealerships,” Sowers said. “Our unique process has created champions inside the organization who then became the leaders of our expansion. I have the greatest team in the nation.”
Sowers also brings his unique perspectives to dealer councils and to the St. Louis Auto Dealers Association, where he currently serves as president.
“I contribute the highest levels of integrity and brand knowledge in these regional and national leadership positions,” he said. “I also bring my expertise in innovation and technology to lead conversations about the future.”
A benefactor of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis, Sowers serves as a volunteer and has sponsored multiple events for this important organization. He is the head fundraiser for the Jim Butler’s Charity Golf Classic, a major annual fundraiser. “Since 2010, we have raised $5.4 million for the group,” he said. He and his wife, Michele, also co-chaired the organization’s Great Futures Gala in 2020, reimagining it as a drive-in event due to the pandemic and raising $450,000.
Sowers has also championed the American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer campaign since 2010. “My wife is a breast cancer survivor, and we are passionate about this cause,” he said. They have raised money by holding yard sales, a Real Men Wear Pink contest and the @CamaroForACause campaign, for which they wrapped a Camaro convertible in pink for usage by breast cancer survivors and at fundraising events.
In addition, each year his company picks a charity to support during the holidays. In 2018 and 2019, it was Bikes for Tykes, and his dealerships donated one bike for every car and truck sold during the holiday season. In 2020, he helped his local restaurants recover from pandemic losses.
“Our team wanted to focus our efforts on the restaurant community, since their revenue was so deeply impacted by the pandemic,” Sowers said. “We purchased approximately $57,000 in gift cards to local restaurants for our customers and employees to use.”
Sowers was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Doug Smith, president and CEO of the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Michele, have two children.