Kain served in the United States Air Force and earned a B.A. from the University of Kentucky in Lexington in 1951. He grew up on a dairy farm and while in college, he began to sell cars part-time at a local dealership. Kain realized he had a knack for sales and a passion for the retail automotive business.
He acquired a DeSoto-Plymouth store in Frankfort, Kentucky, in 1953, and launched his first Ford store in Frankfort in 1959. He later moved his Ford operation to Versailles in 1979, added another Ford store in London, Kentucky, and bought and sold Chevrolet, Chrysler and Nissan dealerships over the years. Kain built his current state-of-the-art facility in Versailles in 2003 and sold the Ford dealership in London in 2012.
Today, he owns Jack Kain Ford in Versailles with family members. Four of his children – Bob, Patrick, Bill and Vickie Kain-Fister – work for the dealership and are the next generation to carry on his legacy.
“My children are making their own positive impact on this business and on the level of service provided to customers,” Kain said.
As a trailblazer in the retail automotive sector, Kain was called on to serve in leadership positions on the state and national level. He was president of the Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association in 1982 and held numerous executive positions at NADA, including chair (2005), vice chair (2004), treasurer (2003) and secretary (2002), as well as contributing to the board of the NADA Foundation.
“My finest moment serving NADA was in 2005 when we visited Mississippi and Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and distributed hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by the automotive industry for individuals and workers at dealerships who were devastated by the storm,” Kain said. “It was the highlight of my time in this business and as a board member for NADA.”
And while Kain chose a career in the auto industry over a life of farming, he never forgot his roots. “My car business has enabled me to help a lot of farmers keep their farms going,” he said.
Kain also gives back to his community and has coached youth sports, including baseball, basketball and football. He consistently sponsors local school events and educational programs for Versailles and supports numerous organizations in his local area, the county of Woodford and central Kentucky.
“I have worked to achieve a better quality of life for all through improved schools, cleaner water, better healthcare options and more activities,” he said.
Kain has contributed his time, talent and resources to Woodford County Public Schools: Northeast Woodford Water District (district leader since 1959); Jack Kain Ford Military Support Fund; Hope Center in Lexington; St. Leo Catholic Church and St. Leo School in Versailles; Versailles Area Chamber of Commerce (founder); Kentucky Community & Technical College System; Kentucky Circuit Court Clerks’ Trust for Life (program to raise awareness and encourage organ and tissue donation); and United Way of the Bluegrass, to name a few. But perhaps his most profound impact on the Woodford County Community was in serving on the Economic Impact Committee which brought 100’s of jobs to the area and rejuvenated historical downtown Versailles.
“The retail automotive industry has given me the opportunity to give back to my community in many ways,” he said.
Kain was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Jason Wilson, president of the Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Alice Stewart-Kain, have nine children.