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San Antonio, Texas
“It is our strong belief that great employees want to work for companies that do great things in their community”
“It is our strong belief that great employees want to work for companies that do great things in their community,” nominee Cavender said of his family dealerships, which have served the San Antonio area for more than 75 years.
A 1981 graduate of Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio, Cavender earned a B.B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1985, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. During summer breaks, he would work at his father’s San Antonio Oldsmobile dealership, originally founded by his grandfather, as a wash tech, porter, office runner and file clerk.
After college, Cavender learned the business from every other possible angle at Cavender Oldsmobile. And, in 1994 at the age of 31, he became General Manager of Cavender Toyota in San Antonio. “Sure, I was young, but I had a lot of great teachers who taught me how to build confidence in others, put new processes in place, and lead with the heart of a servant”.
Today, the Cavender Auto Family, is comprised of eight (8) Texas dealerships in San Antonio, Boerne and Cedar Park, representing brands Audi, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Land Rover and Toyota. Other family members actively engaged in the auto industry include his brother Rick, and his cousins Billy, Bobby, and Stuart. A fourth generation of Cavenders, including his daughter Kate, are now entering the business and serve in various positions throughout the dealerships.
With such deep roots in San Antonio and the retail automotive sector, Cavender has worked hard to forward the interests of dealerships throughout his state. As chairman of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association in 2011, he helped create the Texas Dealer Academy (TDA), which provides educational and operational training, as well as networking opportunities, to the auto industry leaders of tomorrow.
“Specifically, TDA was created for our dealer’s young family members and key managers to gain valuable knowledge and skills that will prepare them for their future role as dealer principal while nurturing friendships among automotive professionals that will last a lifetime,” Cavender said. “I find it very rewarding to see TDA flourish.”
He is equally as committed to his community and is very active in the Texas Cavaliers and its foundation, which supports children’s charities in the San Antonio area. In 2009, he was named King Antonio LXXXVII by the group, a special honor that gave him the opportunity to reign supreme over San Antonio’s annual Fiesta and Texas Cavaliers’ River Parade, which celebrate the city’s rich history. “I was able to distribute meaningful grants to 52 organizations that make a positive difference in the lives of the many under-served children in our community,” Cavender said.
In addition, when the community needed help following Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Cavender Auto Family jumped in as lead sponsor of George Strait’s Hand in Hand Benefit at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio, which raised millions for relief efforts.
Cavender has also served on the boards of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce; Sunshine Cottage School for Deaf Children (San Antonio); Mission Road Ministries (San Antonio); and Respite Care of San Antonio (helps children with special needs). Other philanthropic activities that Cavender and his employees support include the United Way; the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center (blood drives); Medal to the Pedal (supplies bicycles to students with perfect attendance); diaper drives and wounded warrior initiatives.
Cavender was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Bill Wolters, president of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Kelly, have two children.