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William Farrell

William Farrell

Berglund Luxury Roanoke

Roanoke, Virginia

“We are grateful to be able to support philanthropic endeavors across Virginia, but realizing there are more than 600 families that we touch directly through employment at our dealerships is rewarding and truly humbling. The gratification is seeing employees and their families fulfill their dreams.”

A 1984 graduate of Salem High School in Salem, Virginia, Farrell attended Radford University in Radford, Virginia, but always knew he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, Bruce, and become an auto dealer.

 

“I began working in the parts department of my father’s Chevrolet store in Roanoke at the age of 14 and spent every school break working and learning,” he said. “I sold my first car at age 17 and knew at that moment that I wanted to spend my career in a dealership.”

 

Farrell was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Don Hall, president and CEO of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Trista, have two children.

 

Farrell gained experience by attending a Chrysler dealer academy in 1988 and working at a Ford store in Atlanta, as well as at Pat Ryan & Associates in Chicago as an F&I (Finance & Insurance) specialist. Armed with a deeper knowledge of the industry, he rejoined his father’s dealership in 1992 and worked in F&I and in the service and parts department, rising to vice president. In 2002, Farrell bought his first dealership in Spartanburg, South Carolina, then after successfully managing that Kia and Chevrolet store, returned to Roanoke in 2006 to run Berlund Automotive.

 

Under Farrell’s leadership, the auto group expanded and today, has 12 Virginia locations in Roanoke, Lynchburg, Salem, Bedford and Rocky Mount, representing 26 brands and growing from 150 employees to more than 600. He currently owns the business with his father.

 

“I came in on the ground level in terms of experience, but my willingness to out-work anybody else in the room served me well,” he said. “That and the tutelage of my father, who advised me to take care of our customers, take care of our employees and build meaningful relationships.”

 

Farrell is an active member of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, where he served on the board of directors and held leadership positions, including chairman, vice chairman, treasurer and secretary. “Most recently, I was involved in helping pass legislation in 2018 ensuring the right of the dealer to sell a dealership to the purchaser of his or her choice, taking control of this process away from manufacturers,” he said. “All dealers will benefit from this new law.”

 

Another initiative that Farrell championed is building a larger pool of trained auto service and technical recruits through his partnership with Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke, where he is currently treasurer of the board of directors for the college’s educational foundation.

 

“We have made available to the school a 5,000 square-foot ‘service department classroom’ in a company building complete with equipment, diagnostic tools, vehicles and volunteer faculty comprised of Berglund employees donating their time and expertise to assist the instructors,” he said. “And Berglund Automotive will be hiring outstanding students as apprentices, encouraging them to stay on this career path.”

 

Farrell is equally committed to improving the quality of life in his community. He is proud his company was awarded naming rights for its financial contribution to the Roanoke Civic Center, which is now the Berglund Center. The facility features a coliseum, exhibit hall, performing arts theatre and special events center and hosts world-class entertainment, trade shows, conventions and sporting events. “We have donated more than $2 million into the operating budget so both visitors and locals can continue to enjoy the many offerings of this popular Roanoke attraction,” he said.

 

Other organizations that Farrell supports include the United Way of the Roanoke Valley; MDA Car Show (annual Roanoke event that supports Muscular Dystrophy Association); Boy Scouts of America; Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia; Lynchburg Humane Society; Susan G. Komen; Blue Ridge Area Food Bank; Center in the Square (arts and cultural center in Roanoke); Miller Home For Girls (residential group home in Lynchburg) and many more.

 

“Berglund Automotive continues to grow as a business but also as a community partner because of our strong desire to support the communities that have supported us,” Farrell said.

 

Farrell was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Don Hall, president and CEO of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Trista, have two children.