Learning to drive a multimillion-dollar enterprise: Amber Woods is preparing to 'take the wheel' of her father's flagship auto dealerships.

Author:McKinney, Jeffrey
Position:Lessons from the BE100s - Interview
 
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WITHIN THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS, Amber Woods will become the new leader at one of the nation's largest black-owned dealerships as she prepares to succeed her father, Sanford L. Woods Sr., chief executive of S. Woods Enterprises (No. 13 on the BE AUTO DEALERS list with $180.1 million in revenues). The company's Florida dealerships include Treasure Coast Toyota in Stuart, Florida, and Treasure Coast Lexus in Fort Pierce, Florida. In Michigan, it owns Lexus of Ann Arbor and Infiniti of Ann Arbor. In her current role, Woods serves as general manager of Treasure Coast Toyota.

With a succession plan in motion, the 34-year-old Woods is still getting acclimated as to how the dealerships operate. But truth be told, her grooming actually began at age 15 with her working weekends for her father at Brandon Dodge in Florida. She tackled jobs ranging from service dispatcher to customer relations manager. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2005, she moved back to Tampa to work at Brandon Volkswagen, where she served as fixed operations director

After two-and-a-half years, she decided to pursue her passion in the nonprofit industry. Woods would work as a case manager for the New York Department of Labor for six years before returning home to develop, strengthen, and expand her father's legacy. After all, he presented her with an offer that she could not refuse--the opportunity to become a second-generation owner/operator.

So, in 2013, she began working at both of the Florida dealerships as administrative director. A year later she graduated from the National Automobile Dealers Association Academy. NADA was an important part of her successor process. "It brought the showroom to the classroom," she says. "Not only did I learn the automotive fundamentals, but I received the benefit of networking and developing long-lasting professional relationships with peers in the automotive industry, which is priceless."

Woods was promoted to general manager of Treasure Coast Toyota in February 2016. She acknowledges that she has "big shoes to fill." Her father had planned to retire in 2009, but remained onboard to complete the grooming and transitioning process.

Revenues for 2016 are projected to rise 8% over last year as the company has implemented a strategic plan to boost car and truck sales. In 2015, revenues were down from 2014 as car sales dipped. Woods says that plans in the works for this year include expanding the...

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