Pub. 9 2020-2021 Issue 2

6 San Diego Dealer What made the auto industry your career of choice? You came from Louisiana; that’s quite a ways from San Diego; how did that happen? Why San Diego? My best friend since the first grade — Troy Duhon— started selling cars because his father was a General Manager at a local dealership in New Orleans. I was working at a Sears automotive shop, Troy was selling cars, and when we would compare paychecks, my eyes were opened! I told Troy to get me an interview at the dealership, and 37 years later, here we are with eight new car dealerships and growing. I saw some early success in the car business, and when I graduated from college, I decided to stay in the business and give it a go. I worked my way through management at several stores, and eventually when Troy bought Toyota of New Orleans —his first dealership— I became the GM. We did well, earning numerous Excellence awards as well as Toyota’s Presidents Award. After Katrina in 2005, it became apparent that we needed to expand outside of New Orleans. Opportunities in New Orleans were limited; we knew that, and we needed to spread out our asset base. In 2008 – yes, at the beginning of the housing crisis – we had the opportunity to buy a Toyota dealership in Poway. Opportunities like that don’t come around often, so we needed to act on it, which meant taking a leap of faith and me moving to Poway. My wife and children followed after the school year ended. Troy and I have worked together for 37 years; we’re friends and business partners. Over the years, we have acquired eight dealerships together. You moved to San Diego in 2008. How has your life and the business changed since then? Has the move been everything you thought it would be? I definitely leapfrogged into this life, if you will. I arrived first when we acquired the Poway store. My family was very supportive. I met my wife in 1989 when I sold her a car, so she knows the business. She and I both grew up in this industry — and she understands the sacrifices of time and commitment it takes to be successful. Even in 2008, the auto industry in California was very different from the one in New Orleans. The West Coast led in digital marketing, even back then. I was able to pass a lot of good practices on to our group of dealerships back in New Orleans. The move has been everything I had hoped for and then some. I love California. Before the move in 2008, I had never visited this part of California, so I had no idea what to expect. To be in a bedroom Continued on page 10 Getting to Know NCDA’s Incoming Chairman Vincent Castro