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J. Douglas North

North Brothers Ford Inc.
Westland, Michigan

“The most rewarding aspect of my retail automotive career is being able to build a solid business that enriches lives. We are proud to support the nearly 80 individuals employed at the dealership and the many children and families we touch as part of our mission to be good and charitable stewards in our community.”

After earning a B.S. from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in 1981, North, whose family has been the car business since 1936, set out to gain experience by spending several years at two different Michigan dealerships before returning to the family enterprise in 1987. 

“As a youngster, I worked summers and holidays at the family store doing whatever I could to learn the business, from dusting parts bins to washing vehicles to hauling trash to repairing cars,” he said. “I learned from my dad at a very early age that the only way to excel in a business was to experience every facet of that business. And I did.” 

North sold cars for two years, worked as a business manager and learned F&I (Finance & Insurance), filling his toolbox with a wide range of practical knowledge prior to joining North Brothers Ford as business manager. In 1994, he was named president and today owns the dealership with his brother, Thomas. 

With a venerable history in the retail automotive sector, North has furthered the industry’s cause by actively participating in the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, where he has served as a board member since 2015. He is most proud of his recent work spearheading and reimagining the North American International Auto Show by creating two new auto-centric events, the Motor City Car Crawl and Motor Bella. 

“Our auto show team has been bold and agile in pivoting creatively to address the changing nature of auto shows while being mindful of the pandemic,” North said. “We have been flexible in our approach to pursuing what auto shows are intended to do – showcase products with the end goal to sell new vehicles – and doing so with the mission of creating industry-first experiences in a safe, outdoor environment.”

 The Motor City Car Crawl in August 2021 featured vehicles displayed at six downtown Detroit public parks and included an open-air concert by Sheryl Crow to benefit local children’s charities. In September 2021, Motor Bella at M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan, showcased experiential exhibits from carmakers and the latest technological innovations. 

“It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience to help make auto show history,” North said. On a more local level, North participates in many civic and charitable initiatives that better his community. His dealership hosts an annual clothing drive and food drive to benefit the Salvation Army and area homeless shelters, as well as providing monetary donations to these causes. In addition, they sponsor a 5K fun run/walk to raise funds for breast cancer research, treatment and education at the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit. Their largest charitable event of the year is an annual golf outing that supports local nonprofits. 

“These events speak to our long-term commitment to our local community, which plays a large role in our dealership culture,” North said. 

North was a founding member of the City of Westland Downtown Development Authority Board and has served on Angel’s Place board. Currently, he is on the board of the City of Westland Youth Assistance Program. 

North was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association. He and his wife, Gwen, have two children.