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Author and former auto dealer Rich Miller on fighting against racial discrimination in the industry

At the young age of 36, Rich Miller became a franchise car dealer in St. Louis, Missouri, however, after a few years, things began to turn for his operation as disparities faced by black dealers came to a head. He recently detailed his experience through the book, “Dealing: The Incredible Journey of an African American Car Dealerand joins us today to discuss it. 

Before running his own car dealership, Miller worked for Ford Motor Company for several years as a business consultant. He was tasked with assisting Northern Indiana dealerships to get up and running. In 1991, he joined Ford’s dealer training program and acquired his dealership the next year. Despite location and personnel obstacles, Miller was able to run the business until the 2008 recession. From his perspective, when recessions happen, African American car dealers are not able to get bridge loans from banks and financial institutions to help weather the storm, unlike their white counterparts.

Miller believes that establishing a program similar to the Ford Dealers Advertising Fund could be one solution to the financial disparity. Instead of holding back small portions of every vehicle sale for regional advertising, minority auto dealers could pool this money and reserve it for financial obstacles. Miller adds that he would like to see more financially savvy white and black business owners partner with minority car dealers to help with financing and expand their businesses together.

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