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Fan Favorite

Early in my career at Jim Hudson Lexus, our dealership team had a service advisor who was a particular “fan favorite”. Customers loved Alex with a loyalty that had defied explanation. At Christmas, his office filled with gifts.  He had a sincere helpfulness which always felt authentic. People sensed his character, and trusted whatever he advised for their cars. We always knew he would be successful, and it was unfortunate that we did not have a management position available when he was ready to take his career to the next level. We had guests lamenting his departure for years after he resigned.

In those years, as I listened to customers tell me why they missed Alex, I pined for the day when we would have an advisor who could inspire that level of loyalty again. I wanted a superstar who earned trust and built relationships for the long-term. As it turns out, we had just that someone on the team already, someone who has even surpassed that level of success. He was just getting started as Alex was leaving, possessing a similar easy confidence and dedication to his guests. That someone is Kris Norman.

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Kris has now been an integral part of the service department for the past 11 years, and we couldn’t imagine our team without him. Over the past decade, he has been diligently building loyalty one day at a time, one guest at a time. His dedication to his guests is impeccable, respecting the trust they place in him to help care for their vehicles. These guests are adamant that they will work with no one else, and if he is with another guest when they arrive, they will wait as long as they have to in order to put their vehicle in his care. He receives more phone calls than any other employee in the building. He is an inspiration to his coworkers, who cite his steady perseverance and quest for excellence as a source of inspiration. Kris, like Alex before him, keeps a calm demeanor in the face of incredible stress, and has earned the level of respect he receives from all who know him because of his positive attitude.

Kris is originally from Lincolnton, a quick 50-minute drive from Augusta. I often tell people that we should hold all of our job fairs in Lincolnton, since many of our best employees have come from there, including Kenyelle Norman, wife of Kris, who works in accounting. My theory is that the small-town values and strong sense of community help build the kind of character which Kris and Kenyelle both possess. They each have a tremendous work ethic, attention to detail and quest for excellence which far exceeds expectation, to the delight of customers and fellow team members. You know that if you leave a task in their care, that it will be done, and done well. You know that if you ask them a question, they will be honest in their reply.

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In addition to their amazing work success, Kris and Kenyelle are also proud and dedicated parents to Keegan and Kessler. Balancing the pressures of work life and parenthood, Kris also makes sure to find time for physical fitness, working out almost every day. In his free time, he says that he enjoys golf, fishing, ATV riding and softball. (He was our pitcher for the Jim Hudson Lexus softball team for charity a few years ago). Everyone who knows Kris enjoys talking sports with him, as he is an enthusiastic fan and very knowledgeable on everything from football to golf, to baseball and basketball and NASCAR. He is a fan of the Georgia Bulldogs and Dallas Cowboys, so expect to see him on Saturday game days at work in the appropriate team colors!

I have worked with Kris all of these years and have tremendous admiration for his quiet pursuit of being the best. He doesn’t reach the top by pushing anyone else to the side, and you will never hear him promoting his own greatness. He knows that if he does the right thing by his customers and co-workers in every moment, paying attention to the details, conducting himself with professionalism and integrity, that he will earn a good living and reputation. Even though I had my own theories about his success, I was curious about his viewpoints on the subject, so I pressed him to tell me some of his secrets. Why are your customers so loyal? What drives you to be your personal best every day? He finally broke it down for me, and it made perfect sense. Some of what he said, I already knew, and have already mentioned. Then he told me something that hit home. He said, “Angela, I smile at people. Most people are having a tough day and they want to be recognized, they want to be heard.” What Kris offers is a rare but valuable gift: he gives them his full attention, he listens, and he gives them a genuine smile. They may arrive to the dealership filled with the worries of the day, but they leave knowing that Kris will watch out for them and cheer them up. I thought back over the time he has been working here, and realize that he always has a a big smile for others. It’s no wonder that he became the ultimate “fan favorite”, and we sure are proud to have him on our team.

Blessings and Inspirations

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Little Huey is just 17 months old, but already he has a curious and precocious personality. He likes to play with remotes, and has a particular talent for taking meticulously folded clothes from the couch and tossing them about the room. To his mother, he is a tremendous inspiration. Chelsea knows that she must absolutely set a good example for him. No matter how good or bad her day might be, Huey is the one who keeps her going.

Chelsea is something of an inspiration, herself. She has endured a few struggles in her young life, but remains steadfast in pursuit of her goals. Her coworkers would never know of her challenges, as she puts on a brave face every day and shares her bright smile with everyone. A new addition to the Jim Hudson Lexus family, her friendly nature and polite demeanor make her a good fit for the Guest Services Team, where she serves as a receptionist. She cites a “great sense of humor, tough skin and proper telephone etiquette skills” as important characteristics needed for her job.

Chelsea indeed possesses these skills, my favorite of which is her sense of humor. She has a great laugh and is generous with sharing it when I am being silly. She tells us that her co-workers are “hilarious and caring”, an important mix for a stressful environment like the car business. Chelsea also observes that “everyone communicates in a respectful manner”, which lends to a positive environment and a high chance for success.

When not at work, Chelsea enjoys baking, dancing, DIY projects and designing custom clothes. We can vouch for these skills, since she has brought in some of her home-baked cookies to share at work! She tells us that she prayed to God to  bless her with a rewarding opportunity with loving employees and room to grow, and feels that He has answered her prayers with the new job at our dealership. We certainly feel that the blessing is mutual, for we are happy to have such a delightful and helpful young lady on our team. We know that she will be an asset and friend for years to come.

The Leland Charm

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When I meet a young adult with a strong sense of self, invariably I learn that there was a mentor who helped guide them during their formative years. It was no surprise, then, to discover that this was the case with Leland, a delightful young man who helps us with Roadside Assistance cases. Leland learned about cars and the value of a work ethic from his Uncle Donnie, who had a contagious enthusiasm for helping others. Leland said his positive attitude is also inspired by the example of his grandparents, “Nana and Pop-pop”, who faced tremendous obstacles and continue to live their lives with great determination.

Although I’ve never met Uncle Donnie or Nana and Pop-pop, I can imagine that they are very impressive individuals, based on how well Leland turned out. He has been a part of the Jim Hudson Lexus service team for over a year, and has always been a beacon of light in that department. He accurately describes himself as having the “Leland Charm”,  a preternaturally smiling disposition and warmth which endears him to others immediately. This charm makes him a good fit for the dealership, where our customer service culture is reliant upon such outgoing personalities and helpfulness.

Leland’s considerate ways have inspired us to transition him away from working on cars in the shop and encourage him to spend more time helping guests in the service drive.  The move has been well-received by guests and co-workers, who tell us that Leland is a caring individual who makes the environment more pleasant. Leland tells us he is happy with the move, since he truly enjoys helping others and strives to be the best at whatever he is doing.

When he is not at work, Leland has many hobbies, including  riding four-wheelers, singing, landscaping, building things and drawing. He shared a couple of his recent sketches with us, and we think there is some real potential there! Whether he has art or cars in his future, we know that he will do well in life, because he has something that nobody else has: The Leland Charm!

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Kind-Hearted Rosie

Murphy from Rick’s Paint and Body called me yesterday, hoping to learn our secret to finding the best receptionists in town. “Your team is always so helpful and incredibly friendly,” he said. “I want to find people like that to work for us.” I’m afraid I did not have any advice for him, explaining that all of the credit goes to our Guest Services Team Leader Rosanne Helm. I told him that Rosanne does all of the training for the front desk staff, and that she is the best because she truly cares.

Murphy may not be able to duplicate what Rosanne has accomplished, but he does know what success looks like. When a guest calls or visits, it is imperative that they are received with a warm, upbeat greeting and a courteous, supportive attitude. Rosanne has built a team who delivers these attributes on a consistent basis. She recently celebrated her 10-year anniversary in the position, and is as enthusiastic in her role today as she was when she began, perhaps more so. I wish I could explain to Murphy, or understand myself, what makes Rosanne so amazing. There are few people on the planet I admire as much, and I have met some pretty impressive people in my 51 years.

A couple of years ago, when I received an award from the local Girl Scouts organization, I had to make an acceptance speech in front of an audience of over 150 community leaders. During my comments, I asked Rosanne to stand and I explained to the group that I would not be able to accomplish what I have, or receive any civic accolades, if it were not for this phenomenal young lady. I told them that I have watched her overcome personal struggles, including years as a single mom who worked and went to school. Happily married now with 2 children, she is constantly doing something kind and unexpected for her family, her co-workers, her customers and the community.

Today’s community service is a leadership role in the dealership’s participation in an event called “Halloween with a Heart”, a chance for disabled children to enjoy a Trick or Treat experience in a safe environment. Rosanne is in charge of recruiting, organizing and decorating the Jim Hudson Lexus table every year, and blows us away with her creativity. This year’s theme is “Emoji Halloween”, and she has each of the guest services team members dressed in a different emoji, and her table decorated with #Lexus hashtags. She included her daughter Mercedes in the planning and preparation of the event, sharing in the lesson of giving to others.

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L-R Morgan, Judy, Rosanne, Ashley, Amanda: Best Guest services team ever!

Seeing how Rosanne manages an event like this tells you what kind of person she is. Never one to just do the bare minimum, she approaches this endeavor with the energy it deserves, creating lasting memories for the kids and for her team. She is organized, thoughtful, communicative and diligent. She cares that it is done well, taking personal pride in excellence. She understands that it reflects on the dealership, but also knows that her efforts are rewarded with a high level of respect from her peers and important lessons for her daughter.

Rosanne has been offered promotions in our dealership many times, and I am fortunate that she has turned them down in favor of remaining in her current position. Believe me when I tell you that I do not take her for granted. I am grateful every day for the blessing of working with someone of her caliber, because I am a better employee and a better person as a result. There is not an employee in the building who does not adore Rosanne; her concern for others is genuine and easy to recognize. Murphy and others who call and visit may aspire to her level of customer service, but her kind heart cannot be duplicated.

Champion in Life

Every one of them came from humble origins or been humbled by the ravages of the hard times in which they had grown up. Each in his own way…had learned that nothing can be taken for granted in life, that for all of their strength and good looks and youth, forces were at work in the world which were greater than they. The challenges they had faced together had taught them humility-the need to subsume their individual egos for the sake of the boat as a whole-and humility was the common gateway through which they were now able to come together and begin to do what they had not been able to do before.”

Daniel James Brown, The Boys in the Boat

 

I am reading the Daniel James Brown book called The Boys in the Boat, the true story of the rowing team who competed for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Like most people, I didn’t realize how physically grueling the sport could be, and what levels of stamina and teamwork are required. The reason this particular story is so compelling is that the central character, Joe Rantz, endured the kind of hardships no young person should have to endure, and those struggles are what made him a successful athlete.

 

That quiet, strong resolve in the aftermath of adversity made me think of my co-worker at Jim Hudson Lexus, John Lockhart. For the past 2 years since he joined our team, I’ve been curious about this tall, slender man with a bright smile and outgoing personality. Every time our paths cross, he makes a point to speak, greeting me in the most warm and sincere manner imaginable. I have never seen him grumpy or angry; I’ve never once heard him complain or gossip. I sensed that there was a story behind the enthusiastic demeanor, one which hinted at hardships in his past. I was right.

 

Yesterday I decided to go visit him and do an impromptu interview while he was working in his tint booth, where he was at work on a new Lexus RX350. It is neat to watch him in action, where it is evident that his excellence in craftsmanship is a result of a meticulous nature, a structured process and 12 years of experience. I started with the easy questions, getting him to tell me what he likes about working here. He said that he appreciates the fact that everyone on the team is important, no matter what their role might be. He has been impressed by the kindness of the people, saying that he has never felt as valued at other jobs as he has been here.

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Craftsman at Work

 

It is just like someone who is so kind to notice kindness in his co-workers. As is often the case with good people, they attract what they project. One could never be anything but exceptionally nice to someone like John, who lights up a room with his genuine love for others. I came right out and asked him his secret, as if there would be some magic formula he could share which would make me happier in my own life. “How are you able to be so friendly and upbeat all of the time?” I told him I had never met anyone who exhibits as much joy as he does. As I expected, he said that in general, he had always been outgoing and laid back, but after a particularly dark period in his life, from 2006-2010, he emerged on the other side of that struggle with an outlook of gratitude and helpfulness. “No matter what,” he explained, “you have to know how you can inspire others. They do not want to hear about anything that is not positive. I strive to go overboard when I help people. I have a passion for  progressing in life, for education, for growth.”

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That smile is a blessing to us

 

His passion for education has resulted in a Masters degree in organizational leadership, which he received last month. He aspires to become a teacher, ideally with an online college which would allow him to continue his tinting work with the dealership during the day. Outside of work, he enjoys time with his dog Champ, going to the movies and watching sports, especially the Atlanta teams (Falcons and Braves). His large family is from Waynesboro and Louisville, but all of his 6 siblings live in the area.

 

If the measures of a successful life include such accomplishments as knowledge, happiness, family, overcoming adversity and inspiring others, then our 34-year old Lexus tinting specialist is one truly successful young man. And he is only just begun. Keep a close eye on this one, my friends, as I see continued awesomeness in his future. Like the humble athlete who became an Olympic champion, John Lockhart has learned that perseverance and the right outlook will take you as far as you want to go. We are blessed to have him on our team, and we are inspired by his approach to life every day.

A Detail Genius

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Meet Chester Butler, Detailer Extraordinaire

Chester and I like to talk about Prince. Shortly after the unexpected passing of the music legend, I learned that Chester is a fan and bought him a Prince biography. As Chester reads the book he tells me about it, fascinated by the man who endured painful trials in his life and still produced so many amazing songs. We enjoy talking about it when we periodically drive back and forth between our two dealership locations, delivering cars.

I first heard the term “musical genius” in association with Prince back in the 90’s, when a music-savvy friend of mine declared that no matter what you thought about the songs, there is no questioning the talent. I tend to agree. Genius is defined as exceptional ability, gifted, clever. When I think of that word, I cannot help but associate it with Chester himself, in his role with us at the dealership.

When any of us need a car detailed to absolute perfection, Chester is the man we seek. His nature does not allow him to turn in a vehicle which is not showroom immaculate. He will not be rushed, he will not skip steps, he will not compromise. It is a part of who he is as a person. His personal Lexus is a testament to his high standards, and  there is not a vehicle which is not dramatically transformed while in his care.

A Savannah native, Chester has been living in Augusta and working with Jim Hudson Lexus since 2006. When asked how his family and close friends would describe him, he replies that they would use words like “caring, easygoing, cool”, which is a good fit for his disposition. Chester tells us he is passionate about God and his goal in life is to live it to the fullest. When not at work, he enjoys playing tennis (including competitions) and time with his peeps. He has 3 kids: Margaret, Torian and Pierce.  His wife Valerie, a loyal Lexus owner, attends all of the Jim Hudson Lexus functions with Chester and is a valued member of our extended work family.

We are grateful to Chester for his inspiring work ethic and commitment to excellence, as well as his courteous nature. It would be difficult to imagine a Jim Hudson Lexus without Chester Butler, our detail genius.

A Millennial Creative

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I’ve always thought Ashley seemed mature for her age. When she started working with us at Jim Hudson Lexus more than a year ago, I prepared myself for at least of the few of the well-known characteristics of workers commonly referred to as Millennial: short attention span, self-absorbed, impatient. I was pleasantly surprised  to find that these less desirable traits of her peers do not describe her at all. With the exception of a few attractive attributes: entrepreneurial, compassionate, team-oriented, I really couldn’t honestly place her in that group. The more I read about Millennials for this blog, the less I associated Ashley with them. So I wondered, what is a better personality category for her?

 So, on a hunch, I looked up the qualities of a creative personality and thought, now we are getting somewhere! Loving, emotional (a bit of a worrier), productive, ambitious, concerned with religion/values, many interests. Ashley thrives when her work allows her to blossom in a broad range of tasks, such as helping guests, making gift baskets, learning new things in the office. She is passionate about living in the moment and being a friend to others. If you ask Ashley to describe herself, she will say that she is a good listener, honest and creative. When asked which adjectives her family and friends might use for her, she thinks they would likely drop words like caring and sassy (which I love, and wholeheartedly agree).

 A good way to get a sense of a person is how they spend their free time. Family and friends are important to her, as is her dog Marley, a Labrador-Great Dane mix who, like Ashley, is full of energy and enthusiasm for life. True to the creative profile, her hobbies are diverse: she is known to spend her day off doing everything from baking and DIY crafts to off-roading or going to see action movies with her boyfriend James.  She has also been having a lot of fun selling Scentsy products, a line of wickless candles and other fragrance items.

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Marley at rest

 

In whatever way you might describe Ashley, two things are for certain: she is her own authentic self, and she is a good fit for this dealership. In her time as a member of the Guest Services team, she has been warmly embraced by the dealership staff and customers appreciate her genuine nature. She tells us that she enjoys her job very much, saying that the Jim Hudson Lexus atmosphere is a supportive one, and filled with determination for success. So the next time you visit us and see her friendly face, know that you are encountering a truly unique Millennial Creative.

 

 

Articles reviewed as research for this blog:

 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130402091133.htm

 https://www.mindtickle.com/blog/10-millennial-personality-traits-hr-managers-cant-ignore/

 http://www.morriscreative.com/personality-traits-millennials-market-generation/

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/millennials-poll_us_55e87b8be4b0c818f61b1558

 http://luckyattitude.co.uk/millennial-characteristics/

 http://thesecondprinciple.com/creativity/creativetraits/

 http://iheartintelligence.com/2014/09/30/creative-people/

 https://www.fastcompany.com/3016689/10-paradoxical-traits-of-creative-people