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Dealer Q&A with Premier Automotive Founder and Owner Troy Duhon

Premier Automotive hit the ground running in 1995. For the next 25 years, Premier has expanded from one Toyota dealership in New Orleans to 21 dealerships spread across the country into Kansas, Texas, Missouri, California. This successful dealership group is led by Founder and Owner, Troy Duhon. Anyone who talks with Duhon quickly learns that the success of Premier Automotive is not predicated on opening as many dealerships as possible, but instead is focused on community involvement, service, and making a difference in the lives of others. Duhon spoke with CBT News to spotlight his tremendous work in a dealer Q&A session.

You have a unique journey that has resulted in the success of Premier Automotive today. What key moments of your journey do you credit the most to where your business stands currently?

“The most inspiring moment was when we were hit by Katrina. We have 5 dealerships at the time and 4/5 were destroyed. We lost over 1,200  cars and had insurance receivables over 30 million. We partnered with our local church and started a Katrina Relief Center at our Honda dealership. We were serving over 1,000 cars a day. I remember one day watching the joy I saw on my employee’s faces as they were serving people that lost everything. I went home and told my wife that the rest of my career was going to be about giving back. We continued that outreach and today our Foundation, Giving Hope (Giving Hope NOLA) will give away over 8 million pounds of food and cook close to 200,000 hot meals in 2020.”

Your group has an impressive employee retention rate. People like working at Premier. What’s the secret to building a great corporate culture? 

“I learned the value of employees when only half of my employees returned after Katrina. I began to create an atmosphere of appreciation. We allowed them to participate in the non-profit and this made them feel proud as they were part of something bigger than just selling and servicing vehicles. My father told me once that employees don’t leave you because of a paycheck, they leave you because of a lack of purpose.”

Related: Founder of Premier Auto Group Troy Duhon Talks Giving Back, and the Future of the Car Business

Premier Automotive has been involved in a number of different outreach programs such as Giving Hope, The Food Pantry New Orleans, and the New Orleans Mission. What outreach and community efforts are Premier focused on currently, and what kind of impact have you seen in those efforts?

“Giving Hope is the main non-profit for Premier Automotive. We donate $25 per car to the foundation. We have built orphanages in India, Honduras, Gambia, Russia, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic and are starting construction in South Africa. We operate three food pantries – New Orleans, Kansas City, and Monterrey, CA. We will give away over 8 million pounds of food along with 200,000 hot meals. We operate the Giving Hope Community Center in the 9th Ward of New Orleans that works with the kids for vocation, job training, and social services. We partner with the New Orleans mission on the Giving Hope Retreat Center that is a 60-acre rehabilitation center for drug addicts, emotional and sexual abuse. We also sponsor special need adoptions through our Hope House Project. My wife, Tracy, recently started Women of Hope Unite which is a women’s networking organization that 


believes, “Find the injustice that angers you or the passion that inspires you.” Giving Hope also has a re-entry program that works with inmates as they enter the workforce. (” 

COVID-19 has challenged dealerships in ways never seen before. How has the pandemic challenged Premier and what key practices have generated success amid COVID-19?

“With operations in different states, this has been tricky because different states have different guidelines. We have protected our employees by creating a safer work environment and we express that to our customers. Our sales are up and we are extremely thankful for that. We are sanitizing every service car to ensure the cleanliness as they leave.”

September was a big month for many dealers but many are asking if the momentum will continue. What’s your take/prediction in the last quarter of 2020 and moving into the new year?  

“The big unknown is how long will unemployment be over 10%. What is going to happen to the rental car industry, hospitalization, and the travel industry? I believe that as long as interest rates stay low and with the average age of a vehicle on the road in the US at 12 years our industry will do very well. Finding used cars will be difficult as rental car agencies are not ordering. If prices go that far up on used then customers will opt for a new car instead. New technology will change buyer patterns as more car companies are putting resources into Electric Vehicles. Overall, I think it is going to be good because of low rates and age of registered cars.”

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Josh Isley
Josh Isley
Josh Isley is a staff reporter for CBT News. Josh graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He is experienced in reporting trends and news in the automotive industry.

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