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“In a small town like Jackson that doesn’t have the turnover of a large city, it is essential to embrace our values of honesty, integrity, courtesy and professionalism.”
“My most rewarding impact has been to offer top-quality vehicles and service for more than 30 years in my core business,” nominee Wilson said. “In a small town like Jackson that doesn’t have the turnover of a large city, it is essential to embrace our values of honesty, integrity, courtesy and professionalism.”
A 1978 graduate of Murrah High School in Jackson, Wilson earned a B.B.A. in finance from the University of Mississippi in Oxford in 1982, where he graduated cum laude and was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha (Pike) fraternity. After college, he worked in the food industry before returning to the business that was first introduced to him by his father.
“My father was a used-car manager for a Buick dealership for more than 27 years,” he said. “In junior high and high school, I would spend time there washing and detailing cars, helping in the body shop and mechanical shop and working as a porter.”
By 1988, Wilson had established his first dealership in Jackson. “We were the number one Dodge dealership in the state of Mississippi for 15 straight years,” he said. “We lost the Dodge standalone franchise in the Chrysler bankruptcy in 2009 but continued successfully with Hyundai and Kia.” He added another Hyundai dealership in 2012 in Ridgeland, Mississippi, and a Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram store in Collierville, Tennessee, in 2013. Two of his children have joined him in the family business.
“Our mission statement says we are in business to serve the public by achieving excellence in solving their transportation problems,” Wilson said. “I feel like my business is my mission and my way of serving our community.”
Wilson was able to use his expertise to directly impact the people of Jackson. Understanding how integral and important cars are for families, he created Help on Wheels to provide vehicles to families in need. “This program has impacted more than 50 recipients of free cars and has changed lives,” he said.
He also goes beyond the walls of his dealership to give back. In honor of his late father, Wilson sponsored the Howard Wilson Golf Classic tournament from 1990 to 2016 that raised money for Habitat for Humanity Mississippi Capital Area. “Over the 25 years that the tournament ran, we provided the financial resources to build 25-plus homes,” he said.
A trained pilot, Wilson has also donated his time to Angel Flight, a group that provides free air transportation to people who need lifesaving medical treatment, by flying missions and providing a plane. And he was designated a first responder by the Department of Homeland Security after 9/11.
In addition, Wilson has held leadership roles on the boards of New Stage Theatre (Jackson); Better Business Bureau of Mississippi; Mississippi Society for Disabilities; and BIPEC (Business and Industry Political Education Committee). Wilson has also served Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison, Mississippi, where he is an ordained deacon and was head of the men’s ministry for 10 years.
Wilson was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Marty Milstead, president of the Mississippi Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Melanie, have four children.