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Brown & Wood Cadillac Buick GMC Mazda
Greenville, North Carolina
“My father left me three core principles that have always guided me. The first one was that the loyal customer is king. The second was that you cannot have satisfied customers until you have satisfied employees. And the third was that since we have been blessed, we have an obligation to give back to the community.”
“I firmly believe that the success that I have experienced in the automotive business is mainly due to my setting specific goals and my drive to improve myself each day,” nominee Brown said. “I have learned that success is a journey not a destination.”
A 1964 graduate of J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, Brown earned a B.S.B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1971, where he was a member of the varsity swim team. He also did two tours in Vietnam on activity duty for the United States Naval Reserve from 1968 to 1970.
His career journey began in 1973 at Brown & Wood, the family-owned dealership that was founded by his grandfather in 1936 as a Pontiac store. His father, William W. (Billy) Brown, who was the second generation to take over the dealership, was the most influential person in Brown’s professional life.
“My father left me three core principles that have always guided me,” he said. “The first one was that the loyal customer is king. The second was that you cannot have satisfied customers until you have satisfied employees. And the third was that since we have been blessed, we have an obligation to give back to the community.”
Today, Bill and his brother, Tom, are third generation owners of the dealership. Bill’s son, Will is currently working for another dealership group. His goal is to be a fourth-generation dealership owner using the same core values that have served the family so well.
With such a long and storied history in the auto industry, Brown is a vigorous supporter of his state association, having served as chairman, vice chairman, treasurer and on the board of directors for 12 years. He understands the importance of staying politically active and lobbying for pro-dealer initiatives.
“It was in the best interest of all car dealers for me to participate in the legislative process and get motor vehicle franchise bills passed in the legislature,” Brown said. “I made at least 100 trips to Raleigh, North Carolina, to lobby, sit in hearings and do my best to influence the passage of legislation on behalf of our state’s dealers.”
Brown has also put his leadership skills to work for his community. He has served the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce; Pitt County Committee of 100 (economic development board); Pitt Community College Foundation; and the Greenville Jaycees (chairman of the 4th of July fireworks for three years).
Brown is proud of his contribution to the Coastal Conservation Association, an organization of conservationists and recreational anglers who work to protect coastal marine resources. “I helped the North Carolina chapter gain a legislative presence that led to the passage of a bill authorizing a Recreational Saltwater Fishing License,” he said. “I get great satisfaction from serving organizations for which I have a passion.”
A member of the Greenville Rotary, where he was president from 2016 to 2017, Brown has been named a Paul Harris fellow four times in recognition of his contribution to Rotary and to his community.
“I worked very hard to learn how to be a leader in my business and that has flowed to my church and to all the organizations in which I participate,” he said. “My goal is to leave this place better that it was when I started.”
Brown was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Robert Glaser, president of the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Jane, have two children.