A look inside industry icon Hugh Hathcock’s automotive retail journey

Hugh Hathcock

Today on CBT News, we welcome back to the show Hugh Hathcock, owner of ReconVelocity. Now, you may know a little bit about his success in the automotive retail industry, but do you know how it began? Hathcock has an incredible story behind his journey in automotive, and we caught up with him recently to get the whole story.

Looking for a way to improve customer experience, Hathcock began Fresh Beginnings in the 1980s to help dealers connect better with customers. Fresh Beginnings would send cookies to customers of the dealerships as a thank you and a method of building referrals. The program was extremely successful and helped propel Hathcock further into the auto industry. He then created a company called ELEAD1ONE, now known as elead, A CRM to help dealerships communicate with prospects and customers. Since then, the company has grown to become the most used CRM software among all auto dealers.

In 2018, Hathcock sold elead to CDK Global for $500 million. Instead of taking an early retirement, Hathcock began working on his next business venture ReconVelocity. The company was created to help modernize the reconditioning process at dealerships by increasing pre-owned inventory turn rates, decreasing recon costs, and creating higher profit margins.

Hathcock talks about the early success of Fresh Beginnings, as the small company was able to sign up 3,000 dealerships in a five-year span just from the cookie program alone. elead was then able to grow as a call center based out of Valdosta, GA. While many sales teams within dealerships weren’t great at selling over the phone, elead built a strong call team that became the largest call center in the auto industry. Dealers began to see the value in the company as an alternative BDC, which helped the call center grow across the country. 

The company then became focused on CRM software after buying a technology company in Destin, FL in 2000. From there, elead gained the business of over 4,000 dealerships. 

After surviving the great recession of 2008 and 2009, Hathcock says that elead caught fire starting in 2010, growing at a tremendous pace over the next several years. Hathcock credits the growth to a team of experts and dedicated individuals that made the CRM and call center so successful. 

Hathcock says that the decision to sell elead was the hardest decision he’s ever had to make. After pouring so much into the company, he found it difficult to step away. The company meant so much not only to him but also to his family. The acquisition with CDK Global helped Hathcock take the next step in his journey, as he looks to continue transforming and innovating the retail automotive industry.

Did you enjoy this interview with industry titan Hugh Hathcock? Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic with host Jim Fitzpatrick at jfitzpatrick@cbtnews.com.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date or catch-up on all of our podcasts on demand.

While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest auto industry news from CBT News