Kimatni D. Rawlins
I’ve known Pam Rodgers for more than a decade now and have always been educationally intoxicated with her successful entrepreneurial skills. Not only is it a challenge to start, run and finally operate a dealership, but there is a greater uphill battle when you are an African-American woman in the business. However, Pam has conquered those hurdles admirably and sells more cars to new consumers than Redbull does to action sports athletes. She’s the Oprah Winfrey of the auto business.
To that honor, General Motors, Jocelyn K. Allen, Director, Regional, Grassroots, and Diversity Communications Eric Peterson, U.S. Vice President of Diversity Dealer Relations and Vivian Pickard, President, GM Foundation and Director, Corporate Relations welcomed a small group of diversity media to applaud Pam and her accomplishments at The Grill Room at The Capella in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Moreover, Ms. Rodgers was honored later that evening at the 2014 Legislative Caucus (ALC) during the Michigan delegation’s awards dinner.
Her motivating human interest and automotive story is one that is relatable to anyone trying to breakdown traditional business barriers to success. A stern work ethic, trustworthy employees and an open heart that gives back to the people and community who made her successful are just a few strategies and guidelines for longevity and a healthy business model for Pam. It also doesn’t hurt that she has a bevy of new Chevy products to market such as the redesigned Corvette, Tahoe, Silverado and many more American born sedans, trucks and sports cars in the GM portfolio. Congratulations Ms. Rodgers form team Automotive Rhythms and Fit Fathers.
Pam’s Compelling Story: After receiving her M.B.A. in 1983 from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, Ms. Rodgers returned to her hometown of Detroit, where she joined Ford Motor Company as a financial analyst. She had been there approximately two years when she learned that domestic automotive manufacturers had committed to developing comprehensive diversity initiatives, in particular minority dealer development programs. Rodgers left Ford and launched her career in automotive sales to pursue acceptance into the dealer program. She worked as a sales person at several dealerships including Flat Rock Chevrolet Oldsmobile owned by Charles Harrell. Under his tutelage, she rotated through each of the five departments of the dealership, and gained invaluable experience in all aspects of dealership operations.
Armed with this experience, Rodgers continued to apply to Ford and General Motor’s minority dealer development programs. Recognizing her potential, Ford admitted her to its program in 1988. Ms. Rodgers was one of only a handful of women being provided with such a training opportunity. After completing the two year-long training program, she and a partner, who had been a general manager at her training Ford dealership, brought into their first operation in Flint, MI. Due to the death of her partner and the economy, which was spiraling into a recession, the dealership floundered. Eighteen 18 months later, Ford decided to close the dealership’s doors.
At the same time, Mr. Harrell, was buying a second dealership in Detroit. He decided to sell his Flat Rock dealership. Although the decision was General Motor’s to make, she had convinced GM that she was the best person for the job. In early 1993 she took over the dealership. Rodgers managed to increase sales at the Flat Rock facility and it became number one in ‘service satisfaction’ for the Detroit area. Yet as GM pushed to reduce the number of dealerships, GM closed the Flat Rock store. Ms. Rodgers brought the neighboring dealership in Woodhaven, MI and named it Rodgers Chevrolet. She has been operating the Woodhaven dealership since 1996.
Rodgers Chevrolet has received numerous awards from Chevrolet It has received Chevrolet’s Mark of Excellence Award every year since 2000 for their sales effectiveness and customer satisfaction. Pam Rodgers is very active in the community. She sits on the boards of, Southeastern Michigan Community Foundation, New Detroit, Inc., Michigan Black Chamber of Commerce, Alternative for Girls, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and Cranbrook Art and Museum. She has a BA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a MBA from Duke University, the Fuqua School of Business.