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2018 Men of the Year: Don Vance

Don Vance Auto Group

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Reaching a milestone last year of a quarter-century of business in Marshfield as the Webster County town’s lone Ford dealer, Don Vance has seen a lot of ups and downs in the automotive industry.

Over that time, Don Vance Auto Group has earned a lot of customers and picked up more than a few honors – 14 years as a recipient of the President’s Award by Ford Motor Co. and three years of the Customer First Award for Excellence from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Vance, who serves as president and dealer principal for Don Vance Ford Inc., started the dealership in Marshfield in 1992, and he added Don Vance Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep & Ram in 2012.

Vance says leadership for the auto group is characterized by its culture of excellent customer service – and the President’s Award and Customer First Award reflect that trait.

“Both of these awards are highly sought after and are presented to only 10 percent of dealers in the United States,” Vance says. “The criteria for both of these awards include a clean, comfortable facility, the highest level of customer satisfaction survey scores and employing staff who are Ford/FCA certified.”

But it was an honor picked up last year that Vance says stands out as his most significant to date. Don Vance Ford was selected as a top 100 volume dealer with Ford Motor Co. out of 3,600 dealers across the country.

“It represents the culmination of all that goes into making a business successful for over 25 years – from starting it, growing it, weathering economic downshifts, building a strong team, navigating a competitive industry and ultimately having a loyal customer base,” he says.

The strong team Vance speaks of has largely been built through his investment in others through mentorship, as he says most of the company’s top managers started in entry-level positions and worked their way into leadership. When the company stared in 1992, Vance says he wore many hats and that working closely with team members was essential to success – a management style he continues to this day. That includes hiring a couple of high school students every year as a way to “pass the baton to the next generation,” he says.

Support of working teenagers extends to annual participation for the past decade in the Drive 4 UR School promotion via Ford Motor Co. The one-day event, which benefits Project Graduation, involves Ford Motor Co. paying $20 per test drive, Vance says, with his dealership providing the vehicles, fuel, food and people to work it.

“A high school diploma is a reason to celebrate, and I want them to have a safe and fun party to celebrate it,” he says of his support for the event that has raised more than $75,000 for Marshfield’s Project Graduation over the past 10 years.

Vance says the auto group last year supported 70 organizations, including Marshfield Rotary Club, Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.

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