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Prince Automotive of Valdosta Inc.
"Having been a dealer for 21 years and part of a larger dealer group that has served South Georgia since 1966, we have always understood the importance of taking care of our customers and employees."
“Having been a dealer for 21 years and part of a larger dealer group that has served South Georgia since 1966, we have always understood the importance of taking care of our customers and employees,” nominee Prince said. “We have achieved a lot over the past two decades, and I am very proud of assembling the best team in the industry.”
A 1989 graduate of Tift County High School in Tifton, Georgia, Prince earned a B.B.A. in accounting from the University of Georgia in Athens, where he graduated in 1993 and was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, serving as the group’s treasurer for two years.
While Prince is a third-generation dealer, he chose a different path and worked in accounting firms in Atlanta after college and became a CPA (certified public accountant) in 1996. The following year, his father, John B. Prince III, had the opportunity to add a Chevrolet-Mazda dealership in Valdosta to his Prince Automotive Group and asked his son to be general manager.
“I understood that I was given the title simply because of my last name as I didn't really have the necessary automotive experience at that time,” he said. “I wanted to earn the respect of my fellow workers so I worked tirelessly – and I do mean tirelessly – to make my dealership successful.”
Prince capitalized on his finance training, hired strong and experienced team members to balance his shortcomings and completed additional management training through the NADA to overcome challenges. Since that time, he has acquired ownership in Prince Automotive of Valdosta, as well as five other stores in the Prince Automotive Group, which are located in Albany, Douglas and Tifton, Georgia.
As an active member of the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association (GADA), Prince has held several leadership positions, including chairman of the board from 2017 to 2018. He has seen, firsthand, how the group lobbies for the greater good of all Georgia dealers on the state and national level. “I believe GADA is one of the strongest state associations in the country and I am proud to have played a role in it over the past 20 years,” he said.
In the area of community service, Prince has had a long and productive affiliation with the Greater Valdosta United Way, having served on the group’s board for many years. “My work with the local United Way resulted in successfully raising $1.25 million when I was campaign chair in 2005; expanding the group’s reach into four additional counties; and bringing new car dealers of Valdosta together to donate a portion of their proceeds from the sale of new vehicles,” he said. He has also participated in the United Way’s Day of Caring, completing hands-on projects for local charities.
As a board member for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, Prince chaired the Think B.I.G. campaign, which encouraged area businesses and individuals to spend money locally instead of out of town. He also supports Lowndes Associated Ministries to People (nonprofit focused on ending homelessness and poverty in Lowndes County); Marie Gaskins Prince Scholarship (for agricultural and environmental science students created to honor Prince’s grandmother, who was a farmer); Miracle League of Valdosta (donated to build rubberized baseball field for handicapped children and adults); Children's Advocacy Center of Lowndes County (donates holiday gifts to needy children through event hosted by his daughter); and local Chevy Youth Baseball and Chevy Youth Soccer clinics.
While Prince and his family’s auto group have received numerous awards for their community work, the recognition that stands out most comes from his father. “My most meaningful achievement would be the respect that I have gained from my mentor, my father, as an astute business person and for his praise that I have done a great job,” he said. “While humble, I am proud to be a car dealer and proud to be in this business.”
Prince was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Lea Kirschner, president and CEO of the Georgia Automobile Dealers Association. He has one daughter named Milly.