Business Person of the Month: His cars are a vehicle for greater good

January 26, 2017|

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At age 12, Andy Jones was destined to serve and plan his life’s work in the car business.

In the 1970s, his father, Gerald Jones, owned a Volkswagen car dealership on Milledgeville Road in south Augusta.

“I’d work there after school, we’d go home for supper and my dad, mom, sister and I would come back and clean the building after dinner,” said Jones.

He learned all aspects of the business from his father and attended the University of Georgia in the early 1980s, with the understanding that he would join the family business.

At age 20, in his junior year, Gerald Jones’ partner left and Andy became a minority shareholder with his dad.

“I wanted to quit school before graduation, but Daddy wouldn’t let me,” said Andy.

Father knows best.

Andy graduated one weekend in Athens in 1985, and the next Monday he learned about his future during a rare staff meeting led by his father.

“He told everyone I was in charge.”

Over the next several years, Andy Jones would pick his father’s brain as the senior Jones became less and less involved in the day-to-day operation of the business.

Gerald Jones taught Andy to be transparent, to be good to people and to serve the community. Andy honored his father by keeping the Gerald Jones name on the growing list of brands.

The Subaru line was added to the VW brand in 1986, then Mazda and Audi in 1992. Honda is a big part of the footprint at Washington and Flowing Wells Roads, as is Volvo. His cousin, David Jones, is partner in those six dealerships.

In 2016, Andy Jones bought 70 percent of the Bobby Jones Ford and Lincoln dealerships from the Lawrence family.

“The one area in all of our other dealerships we couldn’t compete with is the Ford truck. Everyone needs a truck for hauling, hunting, tailgating and more,” said Jones.

In his first year, Gerald Jones Ford beat the two other competitors in the market by about 20 percent in average monthly vehicles sold.

Jones invested $3.5 million in renovations and expanding the showroom, and he stocked the Ford and Lincoln lots with $15 million in inventory.

He also invested in people, adding nine more salespeople and more support staff. Between the eight dealerships, Jones employs nearly 350 people.

In late 2016, Jones sold his old Mazda dealership property on the Gordon Highway to Sizemore Security and Staffing.

“Our Mazda buyers were still largely from West Augusta and Columbia County. We’ve seen a huge increase in service repairs due to the convenience of our new location on Washington Road,” he said.

Subaru’s footprint has been renovated, and all dealerships are greener with the installation of LED lighting and a mechanized car wash that uses just a few gallons of water to wash each car.

Although it is not something he talks a lot about, Jones’ faith in God is deeply woven into both his business and personal life. It’s hard to keep up with the Joneses these days in terms of charity endeavors.

Their largest sponsored event is “Thunder Over Evans,” which is set for May 20 this year. Last year, an estimated 35,000 people attended the free patriotic event.

Jones also is a board member of the Children’s Hospital of Georgia and is touched each time he tours the unit of sick infants. “I love babies. It breaks my heart,” said the father of two.

In 2016, Jones became incoming Chair­person of the Salvation Army and initiated a challenge among fellow dealers to donate a portion of each sale to the cause. Approximately $80,000 was raised. Gerald Jones employees spent 64 hours this holiday season ringing the bell for the Salvation Army on Jones’ dime.

“We spend more time here than with families. Happy co-workers make happy customers. We live in a great area and we are all proud to give back to the community,” said a humble Jones.

His focus for the Salvation Army will be fundraising and awareness of the differences between the Kroc Center’s fitness and education initiative and the army’s “Center of Hope” theme of helping feed folks suffering from addiction and serving abused women and children.

“No money raised at the Kroc Center can go to help Center of Hope,” he said.

Connie, his wife of 27 years, also has charitable endeavors, including her washcloth project to help women be self-sufficient in Haiti.

She knows where to reach him six days a week, and so do the customers who bought about 7,000 vehicles last year – on his cellphone or a special red phone in each dealership! His cellphone and home phone number are on his business cards, and there is a “bat phone” in each dealership to encourage customer compliments and complaints.

“I should be accountable. Saturdays are my favorite day at the office as I get to relax and talk with customers. There are not as many emails from the factories to respond to,” he added.

Jones likes to unwind by hunting, playing golf (last year he was able to play once) and reading. The book he is reading now is It’s Your Ship, by Dr. Michael Abrashoff, which has helped Jones lead an empowering Monday morning staff meeting in which ideas are encouraged and no cellphones are allowed.

Just as his father paid things forward to Andy, he’s now doing the same. His 25-year-old son Drew is the service manager for the Mazda dealership, and his 22-year-old daughter Kelly Anne will use her UGA diploma to go into health care management.

Andy Jones is interested in diversifying one day and opening some health care facilities and perhaps partnering with his daughter – after he feels comfortable that she has established her career and is settled in her family life.

Father knows best.

 

Complete list of Gerald Jones Auto Group’s charities:

2nd Annual Eagle Sports Scramble
Aiken Concert Band
 Alex’s Lemonade Stand
American Heart Association
American Legion Post 192
American Red Cross | Boot Scoot Boogie
ASPCA
Assocaition of the United States Army
Augusta Bulldog Club
Augusta Canal National Heritage Area | Find Your Park
Augusta Christian School
Augusta Exchange Club
Augusta Friends of NRA
Augusta Lions Club
Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce
Augusta Outdoor Expo
Augusta Shrine Club Golf Unit
Augusta Sports Council
Augusta University – SROTC
Augusta Warrior Project
Baker Place Elementary Book Donation
Blanchard Woods BMX/USABMX
Border Bash
Builders Asscociation of Metro Augusta, Inc.
Cecil Herrin’s Men’s Breast & Prostate Cancer Walk
Central Savannah River Land Trust
Charlie Norwood Classic
Children’s Miracle Network
Coffee and Cars Augusta – Auto Meet Up
Colton Ballet Company
Columbia County Arts
Columbia County Cares
Columbia County Chamber of Commerce
Columbia County Charity Gala
Columbia County Forward Foundation
Columbia County Game Day @ Lady A
Columbia County Humane Society
Columbia County Library | Butterfly Habitat
Columbia County Sheriff’s Office
Columbia County SnowFest
Columbia County Special Response Team
Compass Christian Church
CSRA Alumni Chapter of Claflin University
CSRA Parkinson’s Walk
Drive Out Hunger
Augusta Chapter of Ducks Unlimited
Evans High School
Fire K Five K | Firefighter Run
Ford Warriors in Pink
 Garden City Rescue Mission
Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art | Oysters on Telfair
Greenbrier High School
Guitar Pull
Heart & Sole 5K | Children’s Hospital of Georgia
Hephzibah Lions Club
Kinfolk Foundation
Larry Bray Memorial Fund
Life Ministries
Make-A-Wish Foundation
McCormick Lions Club
Mercy Ministries, Inc.
Midland Valley High School
National Wild Turkey Federation
NAU Black Jackets Baseball
North Augusta Lions Club
North Augusta Police Department
North Augusta Renegades
Our Lady of Peace School
Parker’s Walk – National Kidney Foundation
Press On Fund
Providence Baptist Church
Psi Omega Foundation, Inc.
Richmond County Sheriff’s Department
Riverside Middle School
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Augusta
Savannah Riverkeeper’s Paddlefest
Shepeard Community Blood Center
South Columbia Elementary
Southeastern Firefighter Burn Foundation
Southeastern Outdoors Expo
St. John’s United Methodist Church
Stallings Island Middle School
Supreme MCs Rule
Team StinkyKiss Rescue Donation
The American Legion Post 192
The American Legion Post 71
The Augusta Ballet
The Bridge Ministry of the CSRA
The Community Foundation for the CSRA | The Military Spouse Fund
The Foundation for Therapeutic Options
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society | Georgia Cancer Center
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society | Light the Night Walk
The Lucy Craft Laney Museum
The Lydia Project
The Salvation Army Augusta
Thunder Over Evans
Toys for Tots
Victory Baptist Church
Walton Rehabilitation Hospital
Women’s Southern Golf Association

 

One Response to “Business Person of the Month: His cars are a vehicle for greater good”

  1. Kathy Westcott
    January 28, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Great family who live what they preach! They have been encouragers & mentors to my nieces after their mother died in 2007. Thank you for blessing my girls, since I live 600 miles away. God’s blessings on you- we always “reap what we sow”.
    Kathy Westcott

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