Massey began his career in the retail auto business at the age of 8, cutting the grass and washing cars at his father’s dealership in Citronelle, Alabama. “My dad had nine total employees and the dealership was my second home,” he said. “My mom kept the books while my dad sold cars, and I helped out with anything that needed to be done.”
After high school, Massey attended the University of Mobile in Alabama but returned home to help his father with a struggling dealership he purchased over the state line in Mississippi in 1993. “The dealership was located in an old dilapidated building on Main Street in Lucedale,” he said. “My dad planned to hire a manager to run the dealership but could not find anyone who would take the job. I told him I would quit school and run the store. He reluctantly agreed, and I opened the dealership 13 days before my 22nd birthday.”
Massey slowly expanded the operation, built a new facility and today operates five new franchised dealerships, employing more than 175 people. “I thank my dad for giving me the opportunity to build my own business,” he said. “He never tried to influence my business philosophies and always encouraged me to follow my instincts.”
A committed member of the Mississippi Automobile Dealers Association (MADA), Massey has served as a board member from 2005 to 2010 and the group’s chairman from 2008 to 2009, a critical time in the auto industry. “The lessons I learned in that year have increased my desire to remain active in our association,” he said.
Currently, Massey is vice chairman of MADA SIF, the association’s self-insured workers compensation program. “I have developed a close working relationship with our third-party administrator to ensure our members enjoy affordable insurance and are educated on the importance of workplace safety,” he said.
Massey is also passionate about serving his community. He is a partner and sponsor of Mercy House Ministries in Moss Point, Mississippi, a local organization that provides no-cost rehabilitation to men struggling with substance abuse. “We provide funds each year and jobs for the men during their time at Mercy House,” he said.
In addition, Massey aided employees of a dealership in Florida after Hurricane Michael in 2018 by sending 25 employees from his own dealership to the area to help clear debris from damaged homes. And in 2017, he purchased and transported generators to South Carolina for victims of Hurricane Irma.
He is also involved in fundraising events that benefit children and schools, from supporting youth sports to donating a new car to a local high school’s Teacher of the Year to participating in the Buick Drive for Your Students test drive fundraising events to hosting the annual Walt Massey’s Classic Cruisin’ Car Show, which helps provide Christmas gifts to underprivileged children, to sponsoring the University of Mobile Scholarship Banquet.
Massey added, “When I see our sign on ballfields, our general manager serving as an announcer at every Friday night football game, our technician leaving for National Guard duty, our sales manager singing in his church – and the social media comments thanking our dealership for all we do for our community – I cannot help but consider myself the most rewarded dealer in the country.”
Massey was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Marty Milstead, president of the Mississippi Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Christy, have two children.