The numbers are staggering, there are only 265 black-owned dealerships across the US. For decades, minorities wanting to get into the retail automotive industry have been met with many obstacles. In 1975 Winston Pittman, Sr. got his start in the auto industry as a car salesman and since then has become one of the largest Black dealers in the nation. He joins us today as President and CEO of Pittman Enterprises.
Jim and Winston first discuss how business has been for Pittman Enterprises. Winston says that in order for his dealer group to become more manageable for himself and his son, he reduced his holdings in Ohio and Kentucky, to a few stores in South Carolina and Georgia all within 30 minutes of one another.
The pair then tackle the impact that COVID-19 has had on the dealer group. According to Winston, the last time he saw this much volatility in the market, Jimmy Carter was president and interest rates were at 22%. However, Winston never had any intention of closing his doors or dismissing his staff.
The conversation then shifts to African-American representation in the automotive retail industry. Going back to around 2005-2006, there were approximately 800 African-American dealers, however by 2009, that number dropped by 40%. Many years of Winston’s career have been spent trying to get that number back up. It is crucial for the dealer body to represent the consumer base, so he encourages African Americans in the industry to keep at it, and recognize how important their roles are to retail automotive as a whole.
In addition to building his automotive empire, Winston Pittman Sr. formerly served as the president of the Toyota-Lexus Minority Dealers Association and as the chairman of the National Association of Minority Automotive Dealers, of which he is still a board member. He was also a member of the Lexus National Dealer Council, the Dodge National Dealer Council, and the DaimlerChrysler Minority Dealers Association.
Did you enjoy this interview with Winston Pittman? Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic with host Jim Fitzpatrick at email@example.com.