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Elsie MacMillan

Elsie MacMillan

Sierra Toyota
Sierra Vista, Arizona

"Becoming a Toyota dealer definitely fulfilled a longtime dream."

“Becoming a Toyota dealer definitely fulfilled a longtime dream,” nominee MacMillan said. “When I think back over all the years, one of the things I have truly enjoyed the most is meeting some of the most wonderful and interesting people — our customers.”

A 1965 graduate of Manchester Regional High School in Haledon, New Jersey, MacMillan began her career as a bookkeeper with a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Paramus, New Jersey, in 1968. She worked her way through the ranks and became general manager, taking on responsibility for all dealership operations, which included attending franchise meetings and events. “I was usually the only female in the room,” she said.

When the dealership expanded to other locations and became Prestige Automotive Group, MacMillan transferred into management, later becoming general manager of the company’s Lexus dealership. She left the company in 1995 and worked as an industry consultant before returning to the retail automotive arena in 2002. “I realized I missed the day-to-day operations involved in running a successful dealership, and so encouraged by my husband, I began searching for an opportunity for our own dealership,” MacMillan said.

That brought her to Arizona and, working with the Toyota’s dealer development program, MacMillan purchased her current location, Sierra Toyota, in 2002. “ I am one of only a handful of female dealership owners to have built my career from the ground up, rather than through inheritance or via family connections,” she said. Her husband, Paul, took over the role of facility project manager during the dealership’s expansion in 2008 and continues to be an integral part of the business.

MacMillan has made numerous contributions to her adopted community of Sierra Vista and has served on the Sierra Vista Area Chamber of Commerce and co-chaired the chamber’s Military Affairs Committee (MAC), for which she has worked since 2002. The committee fosters relationships between the business community and Fort Huachuca, and hosts monthly luncheons that recognize outstanding military personnel.

“My parents were Dutch and during World War II , they were forced to live on the top floor of their home while German soldiers took over the lower level,” she explained. “This continued until the Americans came and gave them back their freedom. My mother always spoke of how much she appreciated the American military, and I am thrilled and proud to be able to support our local soldiers and veterans through my business.”

For her civic efforts, MacMillan was named Business Person of the Year by the Sierra Vista Area Chamber of Commerce in 2014, as well as her dealership earning Business of the Year honors on two occasions. “To win these accolades means a lot me, because they were voted for by my business peers, as well as by the local community,” she said. She also encourages her employees to enjoy a healthy work/life balance and to get involved in local events and activities.

MacMillan was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Bobbi Sparrow, president of the Arizona Automobile Dealers Association. Her husband’s name is Paul.