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Michael W. Saxon
Saxon’s Inver Grove Ford Lincoln
Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota
"Working from the bottom up has given me the chance to experience and learn each individual position at the dealership."
“Working from the bottom up has given me the chance to experience and learn each individual position at the dealership,” nominee Saxon said. “This comprehensive training has enabled me to mentor my employees on a person-to-person level, rather than dealer to employee, and help them succeed.”
A 1979 graduate of St. Louis Park High School in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, Saxon earned a B.A. in economics from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
Saxon’s deep roots in the automobile industry extend back to 1936. His grandfather and a partner owned four dealerships in Iowa and Minnesota and his father took over the management of those stores. When Saxon’s parents wanted to move to the Twin Cities, his father opened a Ford franchise in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1957.
“When I was 6 years old, I took the bus to Ron Saxon Ford on Saturdays to wash used cars for my father,” he remembered. “Throughout my schooling, I would work part-time in all the departments.”
After college, Saxon became new-car manager at Ron Saxon Ford. And when he went to discuss improvements for the dealership, his father promoted him to general manager. “I looked at him in amazement and said okay.” With trust in my father’s voice he said to me, ‘If you have any questions, I'll be in my office.”
Today, Saxon works with his four brothers and oversees three dealerships, representing brands Ford, Lincoln and Hyundai, plus a fleet division, a commercial finance and lease company and management companies in Minnesota.
“My father and mother taught me and my four brothers how to be held accountable.” “Everything we have stems from my parents’ hard work and their dedication to making us who we are today. I learned a great deal working side by side with my father and brothers, and I continue to use them as resources – along with the next generation of Saxons. They are the greatest strengths of my success.”
In addition, Saxon finds support in his 20 Groups (dealer networks) and the local and state dealer associations, for which he is actively involved. “I have worked closely with the leadership team from the factory and dealer side to accomplish many tasks on behalf of dealers,” he said.
In the area of community service, Saxon is committed to giving back. “My wife and I were taught by our parents to always leave this earth better than we received it. We operate under that mentality, so therefore we continue to give our time and resources in any way we can.”
To that end, he has served as president of the Sholom Foundation, a Minnesota group that provides services and facilities that help the elderly, and he actively supports the organization. “We helped raise $42 million for the Sholom Foundation’s capital campaign in 2008,” he said. And the foundation honored him with the Susie Selcer Leadership Award in 2017, which is given to individuals whose work within the Sholom organizations and the greater community exemplifies the outstanding leadership, integrity and spirit of the award’s namesake, Susie Selcer.
Saxon has lent his time, talent and leadership to Temple of Aaron Synagogue in St. Paul, the Jewish Federation of Greater St. Paul and the St. Paul Jewish Community Center, for which he helped raise $15 million during the group’s 2015 capital campaign.
“I like to be involved in any organization where my efforts make an improvement for the cause of the group,” he said. “I have been very fortunate throughout my working career to be able to give back to people and the community.”
Saxon was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Scott Lambert, president of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Polly, have three children.