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Joe Shaker

Wellesley Mazda
Wellesley, Massachusetts

“The most rewarding aspect of my retail automotive career has been fostering the growth of our team members. Growing a business is great, but watching others thrive at the same time is so much better.”

Shaker earned a B.S. in management from Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, in 1990. He always planned to enter the family car business in Waterbury, Connecticut, which grew from his grandfather’s repair shop in the 1930s.

“When I was 24 years old, I was approved as a dealer by Lincoln Mercury,” he said. By 1998, Shaker, his two brothers, Steve and Edward, and his cousin, Corey, bought the dealership from his dad and uncle. The partners expanded the business and today, the Shaker Automotive Group encompasses six stores in Connecticut and Massachusetts, representing brands Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Hyundai, Jeep, Lincoln, Mazda and Ram.

“I am thankful to my many mentors and friends in the auto industry who have helped us through the years,” Shaker said. “What I have learned in my journey is having a laser focus on our team members and customers is where it all begins. That is followed up by always trying to learn, grow and improve. Finally, like anything you do, you have to care. You have to have a passion.”

And Shaker’s passion for the industry extends beyond the walls of his dealerships. He is a member of NADA 20 Groups and has served on advisory boards and marketing teams for Mazda and Ford Motor Credit.

In addition, Shaker has developed two technology-related companies, CarDay, which brought dealers together on one platform for used-car sales, and TruVideo, a video-first texting platform.

"I conceived these businesses to strengthen the new car dealer franchise model and provide customers with the best experience," he said. TruVideo is currently serving 800 plus dealers and growing rapidly. By using this technology, we can build trust by communicating to customers on their terms."

Shaker concentrates his philanthropic efforts on charities that help children and young adults. His biggest impact has been his work with the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston, where he served on the board of trustees from 2013 to 2020.

"The students are mainly from underserved communities and 74% are students of color with families that have an average annual salary of $23,800," he said. The most outstanding stat is the 83% job placement rate at an average salary of $42,000, almost double of the current household salary."

In addition to giving, Shaker has rolled up his sleeves to assist the institute. "I helped the admissions team at the school with the thought process of working enrollment with a standardized process, helped with marketing, and headed up the industry partnerships committee, " he said. "Despite the school's incredible success, it is underfunded which is their greatest challenge."

Shaker has engaged the board of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association to partner with the institute. “Uniting their untapped automotive program with our dealer association was a priority for me,” he said. “The auto industry has always offered opportunity equally and our need for technicians and other auto-related positions made it a perfect match.”

He is also a benefactor of the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts, and has been involved with the group since 2007. “I was inspired to help by a friend whose son is blind,” Shaker said. “I chaired the school’s Jobs Project and our committee was charged with breaking down barriers and working with the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind to come up with solutions to secure employment for the blind or visually impaired where the unemployment rate is 75%”

Shaker was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Robert O'Koniewski, executive vice president and general counsel for the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Susan, have three children.