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Smith Company Motor Cars
Charleston, West Virginia
“We have kept our vision of building relationships with clients and our community.”
“We have kept our vision of building relationships with clients and our community,” nominee Smith said. “We strive to create, build and maintain relationships of warmth, substance and benefit among our colleagues, between our colleagues and with our clients and the communities we serve.”
Smith is a 1964 graduate of Fairmont Senior High School in Fairmont, West Virginia. He earned a B.S. in business administration in 1968 from Fairmont State University, also in Fairmont, where he was a member of Theta Xi fraternity. “I paid for college working at a supermarket,” he said. “And I provided two fraternity brothers with financial assistance to help them graduate.” He also served in the Army National Guard for seven years.
After working at the Monongahela Power Company and the Xerox Corporation in West Virginia, Smith took his first job in the automotive retail business at a Chevrolet dealership in Clarksburg, West Virginia, in 1978. He eventually moved to Florida in 1980 and then joined Coggin Automotive Group as a controller in different dealerships and later in sales management for the company’s Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Nissan store in Ashland, Kentucky.
Smith had recommended that his company purchase a Mercedes-Benz and Volvo dealership in Charleston, but when they passed on the opportunity, he seized it. “My wife and I decided that with little more than a dream and very limited funds, we would do it on our own,” he said. The dealer at the time agreed to a stock purchase, so Smith became president and general manager in 1990 and by 1994, he was the sole owner and renamed the store Smith Company Motor Cars.
His strong work ethic has made the business a success, and he is committed to giving back to the local community and economy. He served 10 years on the board of trustees for the Charleston Area Medical Center. “I was on the finance committee and was involved with the financial health of an institution that employees 5,000 people and a medical staff of 600,” he said. “The medical center is a major employer and offers significant indigent care.”
In addition, he has provided his leadership to the West Virginia Roundtable (a group of CEOs from across the state charged with guiding economic development); West Virginia Chamber of Commerce (initiatives to make West Virginia a desirable place to do business); the United Way of Central West Virginia; and the Rotary Club of Charleston.
“I am a consistent supporter of numerous community endeavors from athletics to the arts, from education to festivals, from humanities to flood victims,” Smith said. Some of the organizations he supports include: Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (fight childhood cancer): Ronald McDonald House Charities; Boys Scouts of America; March of Dimes; Big Brothers Big Sisters of America; Manna Meal (soup kitchen in Charleston); West Virginia Symphony; and the Charleston Ballet.
Smith was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Ruth R. Lemmon, president of the West Virginia Automobile & Truck Dealers Association. He and his wife, Vicki, have three children and three grandchildren.