Finally!

In February 2012 we began the adventure of John Howerton Honda in Beckley, West Virginia. We bought the business having never even visited WV prior to a broker calling to say there was a Honda dealership John might be interested in taking a look at there. 

John has been in the car business for the better part of four decades and in multiple locations. He started out young in the wash bay, worked his way to sales, finance, management, and general manager before having the opportunity to become a minority partner and then a 50% operating partner, and finally reaching his ultimate goal of sole ownership. He had many opportunities to opt for a bigger salary over the years, but it wasn't all about money for him. It was about his career path and achieving his goals.

When we bought the Beckley Honda store and established new ownership as John Howerton Honda, John had an additional goal for the remaining years of his career. Since he has worked six days a week his entire career (even as an owner) he wanted to be able to slow down a little (not retire, but take a little more time to "smell the roses") and extend the same opportunity he had been given to the right person coming up in the business. These days, the opportunity to have a vested interest in a dealership is almost nonexistent. Today there are fewer and fewer "Mom and Pop" operations, as more and more automobile dealerships are bought and owned primarily by large corporations. And so the search began for the right person and the right fit. 

John mentioned this potential opportunity to every manager he's had since coming to West Virginia. But the person for this opportunity had to have the right values and a strong work ethic, as well as ability and talent. Our biggest challenge in WV has been finding the right person for this position. We've had far more management transitions than we could have ever imagined facing at the beginning of this adventure. We had high hopes numerous times, followed by a disappointing outcome. And we'd have to start our search again. We expected to have this person in place within the first couple of years. But it took far longer than we anticipated.

Finally, a year ago in September, God brought the right person to us through a series of God-orchestrated events. And after a year of having Joshua Graham on the team, John has made him a minority partner in John Howerton Honda. 

Josh Graham (and his wife Brandi) came to us from the Evansville, Indiana area. Josh has been in the car business for his entire adult life and was with a local Ford dealership in Evansville for 12 years. John is also from Indiana and spent many years in Evansville, beginning with his freshman year of high school. 

Josh shares John's drive and passion for the car business. He has a natural ability combined with a work ethic that sets him apart from many. And most importantly of all, he shares our values of honesty, integrity and loyalty. He is a team player, as well as a respected leader of our team. 

Early on, there were plenty of challenges as our long time employees adjusted to yet another key personnel change. Josh had to hear constantly that no one really expected him to stay based on the trials and tribulations of past experience. But Josh didn't come on a whim or with the expectation of an easy road. He came believing he was the person we had been looking for ever since opening John Howerton Honda. And he came determined to make that obvious. So he persevered through every bump in the road; as did most of our team. I feel confident in saying that those who hung in there for the early "bumpy parts" of the ride are glad they did. We have never enjoyed such a positive atmosphere, nor the level of camaraderie and team spirit as we have in recent months.

In our almost seven years here, there have been good times and hard times. 2016 and most of 2017 were especially challenging with the struggling economy, as well as more personnel changes in key positions. Then this past summer our Comptroller, Bruce Beebe, suddenly passed away, leaving big shoes to fill. Bruce was a talented, honest, dedicated person both professionally and personally. His health had been deteriorating for a while and he had been trying to push through that without making a big deal out of it. So, his unexpected passing was a shock and a jolt to all of us. But our whole team became focused on stepping up and filling gaps as we moved forward. 

2018 has been our best year since 2013. And we are so grateful. We are grateful to have Josh and Brandi Graham. And we are grateful for each and every member of our team who has made it their own personal goal to not only represent John Howerton Honda well, but to serve our customers and our community with integrity.

We want to congratulate Josh Graham on becoming a partner in the business. We want to congratulate Brandi Graham on the contributions she has made to our success as Finance Director. We would like to congratulate Leonard Hanks on his promotion to the position of Comptroller. And finally, congratulations to Jonathan O'Connor in his new position as Service Manager. 

We are optimistic about the future of John Howerton Honda with Josh and his leadership being the key ingredient.

And, last but not least, we'd like to thank all of our customers in Southern West Virginia for your business, your friendship, and for voting us the number one dealership in Raleigh County to buy a new vehicle six years in a row. We hope to earn and keep your business, and to remain your number one choice for many years to come.


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