A 2008 graduate of Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where she earned a B.A. in business economics, Virginia Bowden took the scenic route on her way to a career in the retail automotive industry.
“I lived in different cities, towns, states – and even in Italy – and tried a variety of jobs and careers throughout my 20s,” she said, noting that she worked as a surgical assistant, magazine sales assistant and interior design associate during that time.
“Thankfully, my father never pressured my brother or me to work at the dealership,” Bowden said. “He wanted us to spread our wings and explore life on our own. It was his desire that we would be interested, but it was imperative that we made that decision without his influence.”
When Bowden and her husband, Wyn, decided to switch careers and take over the family dealership in 2017, they hit the ground running. They were forced to wear many hats when they had some significant personnel changes and departures, but they later settled into their current positions of dealer and general manager.
“I learned so much from my experiences outside of the dealership and grew as an individual,” she said. “As a result, when I took over the business, I approached it as a consumer and focused on customer service. Wyn and I still have much to learn but we are determined to make a good thing better.”
With such deep roots in the community, Bowden is committed to supporting the organizations and causes that her employees and customers care about.
“It is important to me personally and as a company that we continue to give back to our community,” she said. “Partnering with other businesses and giving each other support is what it is all about. We are stronger together!”
Some of the initiatives her dealership supports include Downtown PKB (Downtown Parkersburg); United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley; Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley; City of Parkersburg Economic Development; Toys for Tots; Worthington Little League Baseball; We Have Your Six Military Veteran Group, to name a few. Her dealerships also hold an annual fundraising event to honor and thank local First Responders.
Bowden is also proud of her company’s support of the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia, a child welfare group that works to find safe and stable homes for children. During the annual McClinton Car Show, a celebration of vintage autos now in its ninth year, her team collects food and monetary donations for the organization. This is one of many contributions to this organization throughout the year.
“The automotive business is exhilarating and filled with smart, talented and innovative people,” she said. “We surround ourselves with individuals that want to be successful and make a difference in both their own lives and the lives of others, providing excellent customer service and giving back to the community.”
Bowden was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Jared Wyrick, president of the West Virginia Automobile Dealers Association. She and her husband, Wyn, have one daughter, three dogs, and a second child on the way.