September '19

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12 THE SHOP SEPTEMBER 2019 I n Chicagoland, the McGrath car dealer- ships are known as long-term, family- owned and operated dealers, with an outstanding reputation for providing both quality and superior services to their customers. Most of the McGrath family members are highly active in the day-to-day operations on both the front and back ends of their dealerships. With our company serving as their restyler for 45 years, I've personally watched the family dynamic grow from second-to-third-generation, which has been amazing to witness, as my brother and I are second-generation business owners aligning with the McGrath family's third generation. I wrote an article on second-generation millennial business owners a couple of months back (THE SHOP, July 2019) and explained the scarcity of successful second- and third-generation businesses. I was told, "a first generation builds, the second generation maintains, and a third generation destroys." Like other family-owned businesses in the automotive world, my brother and I are beating the odds in the second-generation bracket, but the rarity of having a successful third generation means they're unicorns in the automotive industry—especially when adapting to the fast pace of an industry like ours. I recently had the pleasure of inter- viewing Mollie McGrath. She's not only a respected name in the automotive industry, but is third-generation to her grandpa and father's dealership and has watched the industry change on the dealership end of our market. Let's learn a little bit more about her, her company's history, and the challenges women and younger owners sometimes face. BUILDING AN EMPIRE The McGrath empire began in 1964, when Leo McGrath bought his first Buick dealer- ship in Elgin, Illinois. His hard work has grown into three hard-working generations, with over a dozen dealerships selling both import and domestic brands. Mollie McGrath works for her father, Scott McGrath, at their Nissan dealership, just a few blocks down the street from Leo's first Buick store. Some McGrath stores are part of groups within their family, but Mollie's dad and his brothers all separately own their dealerships. They work well together, and their highly rated body shop at McGrath Nissan takes care of many other McGrath clients. A con- venient in-house rental service often aids in getting customers back on the road quickly. When I asked Mollie how her grandpa Leo started his journey in the industry, she said it was after his service in WWII and Korea. He worked for GM for years in a role that was very travel-heavy. By the time her Irish-Catholic grandparents reached Elgin, her father was one of seven kids. "When my grandfather told my grand- mother that GM needed him to move again, she told him he'd better find some- thing to do around here because she wasn't moving one more time with seven kids." So, in 1964, on Grove St in Elgin, McGrath Buick opened, professing to be "A Good Place to Do Business." My company, Top Coverage, has been lucky to serve as the restyler to these dealer- Mollie McGrath explains what it takes to build strong relationships & succeed in today's market. Dealerships&Accessories Good friends since childhood, Courtney Pahlke, left, and Mollie McGrath now work closely together through their restyler/ car dealer relationship. By Courtney Pahlke

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