Episode #2 :

Todd Ingersoll

How to Rise from Sales Consultant to CEO

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Today, we know him as Todd Ingersoll, businessman and owner of Ingersoll Auto of Danbury. But, how did Todd get his start in the automotive industry? During this interview, we dive into his early days, his family life, and more importantly, his gradual rise from sales consultant to CEO.

Believe In Your Self

Before Todd Ingersoll even stepped foot into a dealership, he first enlisted in the Navy as a Naval Rescue Swimmer. During his training, after a second attempt at a diving exercise, Todd had failed. Down on his luck, he phoned his mother, who gave him some of the best advice he’s ever heard in his life, saying that it had even “set a cornerstone” (11:13) in the foundation of his business. Because he was no longer welcome in the navy and would have to return home, his mother informed him that they did not have the resources to enroll him in college, but if he wanted to continue in the navy, if he truly wanted it back enough, he would find a way. And this journey he would take on would only be because of his faith and belief in himself.So, he returned to the navy, but he did not resume at where he progressed. Instead, he started at the beginning. He started at day one. This would teach Todd about dedication, and that life would always go on no matter what is thrown at you.

Starting at the Bottom

After his stint in the Navy, Todd would find himself returning home, sitting at the kitchen table, reading a newspaper and coming across an ad that read, “Here’s your chance to break into cars,” by the brand, Saturn. No experience was necessary, and Todd would be given the role of sales consultant. Within only two years of working at Saturn, the company was looking to expand, an opportunity for Todd to rise in the rankings. He was soon offered the leadership role of general manager and even now, he can still see that by gaining this position, he was taught to lead with humility.

Going Through Hardships

During the recession, four brands in the Saturn brand would be put up for review, but Robert Penske decided he would acquire the brand. Work is put into effect, teams are built and Todd is getting ready to launch the new Saturn division when news breaks that Penske would be turning down the deal. Everything up to this moment that Todd had been working on was now gone. No matter what came Todd Ingersoll’s way, either failing out of the navy or losing a brand deal that, he was and will always be convinced that the sun always rises, another day of opportunity always awaits. Through hard work and dedication, Todd would go from owning no franchise to owning all four Saturn brands in Danbury and in Watertown (37:06).

TimeStamps

  • 3:00 -Todd’s enrollment into the Navy
  • 8:40 -A Valuable lesson in commitment during his time in the Navy
  • 21:34 -Todd discusses the Saturn consolidated, and he was awarded Buick & GMC by General Motors
  • 33:58 -Rebuilding his dealerships and his faith in his community
  • 41:35 -Scott discussing Ingersoll Auto’s message to its consumers
  • 41:58 -Todd’s 5 Core Values & Culture surrounding his businesses

Transcript

00:10 Scott Johnson: Welcome to the Mack Talks, everybody. I’m your host, Scott Johnson. This is my co-host, Chase Hutchison.

00:18 Chase Hutchison: Hi, guys.

00:20 SJ: Chase, tell them what the Mack Talks is.

00:22 CH: The Mack Talks are that vehicle that brings you the stories that you need to hear from business owners, entrepreneurs and impactful leaders.

00:32 SJ: That is right, sir. And today we have a guest that hits all the categories Chase has mentioned. He’s a philanthropist, he owns three successful car dealerships located in New York and Connecticut, he was a rescue swimmer for the US Navy, has a beautiful family, and is a force in his community, our community, actually, with his Ingersoll Acts of Kindness. Todd Ingersoll, welcome.

01:00 Todd Ingersoll: Thank you so much, appreciate it.

01:01 SJ: How are you today?

01:01 TI: Doing great, thanks.

01:02 SJ: Awesome, I appreciate you joining us and being able to tell your story, you have an awesome story. I’ve heard it a few times myself, I look up to you, from what you have done throughout the years and just wanted to have you come on the show and be able to tell this story for the people that haven’t heard it out there. The entrepreneurs that are out there, the people that are fighting for the type of career that they want to be able to hear a great story to help them keep going. So welcome, I’m super excited to have you here today.

01:31 TI: Thanks, Scott.

01:33 SJ: So basically let’s just start with your journey from the beginning. So you graduated high school in Bethel?

01:39 TI: Sure did, Bethel High School.

01:40 SJ: Okay, and then you…

01:41 TI: 1988.

01:41 SJ: Nice, nice.

01:43 TI: Yeah. Way back, when that song was popular.

01:47 SJ: Yeah, exactly, right?

01:49 TI: When the dinosaurs roamed.

01:51 CH: Oh, thank you, thank you.

01:51 SJ: Easy, settle down, fella. He’s throwing them already.

01:53 CH: The millennials picking on the Gen X-ers.

01:56 SJ: Alright, so, after you graduated high school, you went into the Navy, right?

02:00 TI: Actually, I went to college.

02:01 SJ: Okay.

02:01 TI: And financially that was pretty difficult for my folks. My dad was a teacher at Bethel High, and mom was working on getting herself through nursing school. And so I made the decision to enlist in the Navy. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Top Gun or not. I’m sure you have.

02:20 CH: Yeah. It’s my favorite movie.

02:21 SJ: He actually likes it a lot.

02:22 TI: Good.

02:22 SJ: Chase actually wears a pair of jeans that are little snuggle, like the Millennials do, and I always refer to ’em as his Tom Cruise jeans.

02:30 TI: Well. So obviously, it was one of the greatest advertisements ever for the Navy, and my goal was the motorcycle, the blonde, and fly jets.

02:40 TI: So went down to the recruiting station, told him my dreams and he said, “Well, if you haven’t graduated college can’t do that.” And so I said, “Thanks very much. I’m leaving, then.” And he said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute,” as he should have, and said, “Well, what if we could get you in the Navy and you could be flying on the aircraft?” I said, “Well, do you get the jacket?” And he said, “Well, yeah, you get the leather jacket,” and I said, “Okay. Well, that’s half the battle.” And next thing you know, I’m shipping off to… Which it’s kind of not that logical but the center of the country, great mistakes or Great Lakes, Illinois for boot camp.

03:15 SJ: Oh, wow.

03:16 TI: And that’s where they do boot camp for the Navy in the center of the nation, so.

03:20 SJ: Oh, wow.

03:21 TI: After that it was the dead of winter. I ended up in Pensacola, Florida, where you begin your training as an air crewman and all along people kept saying, ” [03:33] ____ are you a good swimmer,” and I would say, “Well, yeah, Meckauer Park in Bethel, which is where I did all my training, I made it all the way up to shark, I could go out to the raft alone.”

03:44 SJ: Yeah, right.

03:44 TI: And that’s where we began. So air crew training was pretty intense, it was pretty tough. A lot of fun. When you were done with that, it ended with… You’re put in a simulated helicopter, put in the water, flipped upside down at night, ’cause when helicopters crash in the ocean, they immediately flip upside down.

04:06 CH: Yep.

04:06 TI: And you have to learn how to get out of them pretty quickly. Or you’ll go down with the aircraft.

04:12 CH: Yeah. So that’s probably one of the main drills that they…

04:13 TI: That is.

04:14 CH: Yeah, okay.

04:14 TI: So when that’s done and you finally graduate your waist has gone down to about a 34, so you’re in really good shape at that point. And feeling pretty good about yourself, and then my buddy said, “Well, where’s your next stop?” And I said, “Well, I gotta go to rescue summer school.” And he said, “Dude, are you a good swimmer?” and I went, “Yeah, I made it all the way to shark at Meckauer Park.”

04:34 TI: And off I went, and so the day I arrived at rescue swimmer training, it was a beautiful morning and I remember distinctly, it was kinda like the buildings in Fairfield Hills in Connecticut, kind of those white trimmed out brick buildings with the big Palladian windows.

04:54 CH: Yeah.

04:55 TI: And I walked my way up to the front of it, and there you get to the door and it says “United States Naval rescue swimmer training, so others may live.” And that kind of hits you when you see that for the first time.

05:11 CH: Yeah, big responsibility.

05:13 TI: It’s a huge responsibility. And I went and I got in the door, and there was a young man there who was screaming. Wasn’t the most welcoming reception, and telling us to run. So we began running and we never stopped running, basically, the entire time we were there. When you’re in the military your training consists of week one, day one, week one, day two, etcetera. And this was an eight-week training process to become a US Navy rescue swimmer. And each week, it gets more and more intense and a typical day, as you’re progressing, you’ll swim in the ocean, for a couple of miles and you’ll run for four or five miles, and that’s usually your morning and then you do kind of the the training portion where you’re learning the techniques of saving people during the afternoon.

06:04 CH: Yeah.

06:05 TI: So I made it to my seventh four-day, so seventh week, fourth day.

06:10 SJ: How long is the program total?

06:11 TI: Eight weeks.

06:12 SJ: Okay.

06:12 TI: And so I’m almost done. But this is kind of the culmination of your training. And on that day, it’s a night exercise, you walk into the pool, you’re alone, and make your way over to the tower, and it’s… When you get there they turn the lights off, as only the Navy can. You hear that “chunnn” and now it’s pitch black, except the red lights turn on in the pool. You make your way up the ladder and you kinda hear that low voice, “Petty Officer Ingersoll, are you ready to commence training?” And you say yes and then you hear “brp brp” and then the spray hits you, of the water. “Pshhhhh.” And then the waves start in the pool and you walk or kinda slide yourself over to the edge and then the noise of the helicopter, thump, thump, thump. And you push off into the pool. Boom.

07:09 SJ: I know it’s a simulator but it sounds like it’s pretty…

07:11 TI: It’s pretty intense, right?

07:12 SJ: Yeah.

07:13 TI: I think the only thing that was beating harder than the thump of the noise was my heart.

07:16 SJ: Was your heart, yeah.

07:17 TI: And that’s all by design, is to try to create adrenaline and give you that sense. When you’re in the pool, you clear your goggles and you clear your snorkel and you’re kinda ready to go and you declare that you’re a US Navy rescue swimmer and you’re looking for survivors and you’re waiting. You know where they are. They’re underneath you. You just don’t know when they’re coming.

07:39 SJ: Those are the instructors, right? Yeah.

07:40 TI: Those are the instructors. So, the guy that’s underneath me comes up, grabs me. I grab a half of breath of air. He pulls me under the water. And we’re kind of now in the struggle to gain control. And we were down there for quite some time, what I thought was quite some time. And ultimately I had to release and I had the tap his hand, ’cause I was gonna pass out. And when I did, I floated back up to the top. He got out. We talked a lot about my lack of commitment to the United States, a lot about my mother.

08:17 CH: After all that.

08:19 TI: Yeah. There were some very curt discussions.

08:21 CH: Yeah, they’re not gonna pat you on the back and be like, “Yeah, get back on the horse.”

08:24 TI: No, no, no. And then, of course, the next question is, are you ready to redo your training? And, of course, now you say, if you say no, you’re automatically out of the program. If you say yes, then you go right back in it again. So I say yes. In the pool. I climbed the ladder, the lights are off, the thing with spray, the entire thing, except this time, now you have more anxiety than ever before.

08:48 SJ: Yeah, you feel more pressure.

08:49 TI: More pressure.

08:51 SJ: Yeah.

08:52 TI: But I’ve made a commitment this time that I will drown myself before I get out of that pool. I figured you know what, they’re rescue swimmers, well, let them restart… Restart my heart.

09:01 CH: Yeah. They’ll restart you. Yeah, right?

09:03 TI: Whatever it is, they can handle it.

09:05 CH: Yeah.

09:06 TI: And so off I go into the water and this time, fortunately, I grabbed a full breath of air before not one but both instructors grabbed me and they sandwiched me in between them and dragged me down to the bottom of the pool where we struggled. And that went on for probably over a minute. And as it turns out I learned a valuable lesson that day, several of them. One was that if you can get breath, you can’t convince yourself to drown. At least, I wasn’t capable of it.

09:34 SJ: Okay.

09:35 TI: And so when you can tap somebody’s hand and come up, you do. So, I did. They dragged me out of the pool, dragged me to the opposite side, marched my team in, made me ring the bell, because that was the second attempt and I had failed and one by one, each of my teammates turned their back down the line and you’re standing alone. They rip the shirt off your back, toss you down into the locker room and throw you and all your stuff out the front door and you’re out.

10:03 SJ: Wow.

10:04 CH: Wow.

10:05 TI: That’s a pretty tough lesson.

10:07 CH: Yeah, I can imagine.

10:07 TI: For a 19-year old kid.

10:09 CH: Yeah.

10:12 TI: I did what anybody would probably do in that case, and I called my mom. Probably. We didn’t have cell phones, for Chase’s clarification, we used the phone booth.

10:23 CH: And you didn’t get a trophy after that.

10:25 TI: No, we didn’t. And we dialed 1080T01203 and reversed the charges and called home. And I remember distinctly my mom saying, “There’s three things: One, we don’t have the resources to help you, so there’s nothing I can do. But the second thing is is that I have faith in you and you have faith in God. What you’ve forgotten is to have faith in yourself. And if you want this bad enough you can go figure out a way to get it done.”

10:54 SJ: Wow.

10:55 TI: And that kinda concluded the phone call. And I don’t know that I felt a whole lot better about it, but it was kind of some tough love and it was all she could give me. And it ended up being super valuable and would set kind of a cornerstone in my foundation for my business years later, because things will roll in in life that are pretty tough. I think all three of those are important to have people who believe in you, to have a belief in a higher power, and then also to have a belief in yourself. And that night, my buddy said, “Hey, do you wanna go out to a club?” Which is, that’s logical, right? Lowest day of your life.

11:37 CH: Blow off some steam.

11:38 TI: Yes, we did, and there’s the blonde. I see this beautiful girl and I follow her around and she comes up to me and says, “Do you want to dance?” After being in the ladies room for a bit instead of following me around all night and I said yes. And I didn’t know it then but I had met my wife that evening.

11:55 SJ: That’s awesome.

11:55 TI: Yeah, that was the night I met my wife.

11:57 SJ: That’s great.

11:57 CH: The same night as…

12:00 SJ: That you got kicked out, or that you failed.

12:02 TI: Yeah. So, the story goes, I’ll pick up the pace on this one. It basically evolved to I had to go to captain’s mast, which was like a court hearing. And when I get there it’s determined that, you know what, this kid is gonna have to probably go scrape paint off the side of the boat, which I wasn’t all that comfortable doing.

12:30 SJ: Yeah.

12:30 TI: I was like, “No, no, no, no. I’m here to do the Tom Cruise gig.”

12:35 TI: And I’m from Connecticut, I’m not chipping paint, that is not what we do.

12:39 TI: So it really… I dragged my right leg in to the captain’s mast and I remember the officer in charge said, “What’s the matter with your leg?” And I said, “Well, gee, probably a sprained ankle.” And he said, “Well, no wonder you couldn’t do the swim. How long is that gonna take to heal?” And I said, “Several weeks,” and the weeks, the couple of weeks I needed was for my class to graduate and the class behind me to graduate. Because it was too embarrassing. I was humiliated, that they were there.

13:10 SJ: Gotcha.

13:10 TI: And so, he granted it and nobody opposed it and I said to them, “Well, I was on my 7-4 day. And so I’ll resume right around there.” And that’s when he said, “No, son. You start week one, day one and you begin the training.”

13:26 SJ: Oh, wow.

13:27 TI: Alone.

13:28 CH: Yep.

13:28 SJ: Wow.

13:29 TI: And when I went back several weeks later, I was like an instructor. I basically was physically completely as strong as they were.

13:38 SJ: Were you training in…

13:40 TI: No, I had just rested, honestly.

13:42 SJ: Did you really?

13:43 TI: Yeah, I just rested.

13:44 SJ: Okay.

13:45 TI: My body needed to rest.

13:46 SJ: Okay.

13:46 TI: And my mind certainly did too.

13:48 SJ: Getting through where you got to was enough training.

13:50 TI: It was enough training, yup.

13:51 SJ: Yeah. It was more of a mind… Almost like a mental thing at that point that you had to kind of prepare for.

13:55 TI: Exactly. And I think that whole time period allowed me to just kind of get myself centered, refocused and when I went back, I found myself, I was actually the captain of our team.

14:10 CH: That’s great.

14:11 TI: The second go around. And I was out working one night doing pull-ups ’cause you had to do so many to graduate, and what was cool was one night, the instructor who was in the pool pulled up, and I remember he was driving a light green Honda Accord, like a 90, whatever in that light-ish green color and the sun was setting, and he called me over to his car and he said, “We just didn’t know if you wanted it bad enough, but if you are willing to start from the beginning, then you’re the guy we want in that helicopter with us.”

14:40 SJ: Yeah, that’s great.

14:41 TI: And so it was a test, and of the 77 of us that were in my second class, seven of us graduated, 90% did not.

14:50 SJ: That’s usually probably the…

14:51 TI: That is the attrition rate.

14:52 SJ: Yeah, because they need…

14:54 TI: Yeah, but they want people who are that crazy.

14:57 SJ: That dedicated.

14:58 CH: Yeah, absolutely.

15:00 SJ: I mean, it’s gotta feel even so much better when you went, and were able to complete it after…

15:05 TI: I think it would have felt just as good the first time. I don’t know that…

15:08 SJ: But I mean, the turmoil that you faced, you know what I mean? From what it sounds to me, and you mentioned it before, it sets you up for a lot of things in life that you were gonna encounter.

15:21 TI: Yeah.

15:21 SJ: So it was great to be able to experience that at a young age, although at the time, I’m sure it didn’t feel that great.

15:26 TI: No, it didn’t feel that great at all, it was… Look, you’re facing what you think you… What I lacked at that time in my life was the understanding that the sun would come up the next day, that life would go on, that it would be okay.

15:41 SJ: Yeah.

15:42 TI: Because I didn’t have that experience yet, and once I figured that portion out, it was like, you know what, most things that life throws at you, you can remember that and say, “You know what, look, it’s gonna be okay, take a deep breath. The sun will come out the next day and life will go on.” And it wasn’t life or death. This was not what we were facing here. So, it was just a challenge and you had to rise to it.

16:09 SJ: A tough one.

16:09 TI: Yeah, and a tough one, but not the end of the world, certainly.

16:12 SJ: So you met your wife down in Florida?

16:15 TI: I did.

16:15 SJ: And then you brought her up to this…

16:16 TI: Yeah.

16:16 SJ: Lovely State of Connecticut.

16:19 TI: Yes.

16:20 SJ: And you guys now have three kids.

16:22 TI: We do.

16:23 SJ: Right?

16:23 TI: Catherine, Daniel and Jonathan. Yeah.

16:25 SJ: One of them is up at Penn State, right?

16:27 TI: She is.

16:28 SJ: Nittany Lions?

16:29 TI: She is a Nittany Lion.

16:30 CH: Great college.

16:31 SJ: You gone to a game up there?

16:32 TI: Yes, we did.

16:33 SJ: How big is that stadium?

16:34 TI: Well, there was 111,000 the day we were there.

16:37 SJ: Wow.

16:38 TI: Yeah, it’s a great school.

16:39 SJ: That’s amazing, that’s a great thing to be able to…

16:42 TI: She’s had a great experience there.

16:43 SJ: That’s awesome.

16:44 TI: Yeah, she’s getting ready to go into her senior year, although she’s denying that, she’s a little ahead and she’s a…

16:49 SJ: Oh, that’s great.

16:50 TI: Yeah, she’s like, “I’m not my senior year yet.”

16:52 SJ: That’s funny.

16:53 TI: “Actually, you are, honey.”

16:54 CH: That is funny.

16:55 TI: And then law school for her.

16:56 SJ: Yeah, that’s great.

16:58 TI: Yeah.

16:58 SJ: That is awesome. Congratulations, you’ve done a good job.

17:01 TI: She is fabulous.

17:02 SJ: Yeah, yeah, no, great.

17:03 TI: Anybody who’s got a daughter knows just how wonderful they are.

17:06 SJ: Yeah.

17:06 TI: As far as I’m concerned.

17:06 SJ: Yeah, yep. And your little guys too, I see them, they seem like they’re really not so little anymore.

17:11 SJ: They seem like they’re great kids.

17:14 TI: Danny and John Junior in high school, and freshman in high school.

17:18 SJ: Yup.

17:19 TI: And are both strong-willed and kind and generous and smart young people, who I couldn’t be more proud of the men that they’re becoming.

17:30 SJ: Yeah.

17:30 TI: Yeah, they’ll be terrific role models, I think, for their own kids some day.

17:34 SJ: That’s awesome, I love to hear…

17:36 TI: Yeah, that’s kind of the… I think the litmus test for success in life is how your kids are doing.

17:43 SJ: Yeah.

17:44 TI: It’s a… For me anyway, the greatest measure of success, for myself is, “How are they?”

17:50 SJ: True. ‘Cause I mean they’re modeling you. They see what you’re doing, obviously, so…

17:54 TI: Well, more their mother.

17:57 TI: She gets the bulk of the credit.

17:58 SJ: Yeah, right.

18:00 TI: She definitely does.

18:00 SJ: So you came back up to Connecticut…

18:02 TI: Yeah.

18:02 SJ: And then I know that you got involved with Saturn. So tell us a little bit about…

18:05 TI: So Saturn was a really cool car company. They sold cars, Chase, for… In case you didn’t know, but…

18:12 CH: I think my dad had a Saturn as a company car…

18:15 TI: Smart man.

18:15 CH: In the ’90s.

18:16 SJ: Saturn was perfect for the young guy. I remember, I think I was 18 when I bought a Saturn.

18:21 TI: Yeah.

18:21 SJ: And I used to… Every time my friends were around, I’d just be like, “Check this out.”

18:25 SJ: Do the thing where you bend their doors.

18:26 CH: It just doesn’t dent.

18:28 TI: You know what was cool about Saturn was, it was a company that was really based on a principled way of doing business, which was… Allowed people to all be on the same page. So it’s hard to tell folks that they’re empowered to make decisions, that they should treat people a certain way, but not give them the foundational pillars on how to do that, or what to base those decisions on. And Saturn was all about that, and it really put people first. And so it kind of spoke to me, that company. So I came back up here and said, “Well, I’ll go back to school.” And my mom was sitting at our kitchen table reading the newspaper, and…

19:11 TI: Big large white print.

19:11 CH: They used to print it.

19:12 TI: Yeah, we’d print it and read those daily. And in there was an ad to, “Here’s your chance to break into cars.” That was the ad that was on.

19:20 CH: Yeah, yeah.

19:21 TI: And I went and applied, and I was the first person that they hired to come onboard as a sales consultant in Danbury on [19:28] ____.

19:28 CH: And you never sold… Obviously, you never sold cars…

19:31 TI: No.

19:32 CH: Never really did sales before?

19:34 TI: Well, I mean…

19:34 CH: You’re a people person.

19:35 TI: Yeah. That part, I think was fine.

19:37 CH: Just being yourself around people is…

19:39 TI: Yeah, but you know, the brand was not about lying, cheating and stealing.

19:43 CH: Yep.

19:43 TI: And I couldn’t have done that. So it wasn’t what that company was about.

19:48 CH: Yeah.

19:48 TI: And very quickly… And they actually didn’t wanna hire people who had car experience.

19:54 CH: Yeah, they didn’t want…

19:54 TI: They wanted folks who were not involved in that business at all. And pretty quickly we kind of rose through the ranks and next thing you know I was in a leadership position in sales, and then did some finance work, and we got ready to open up our second store. So from a timeframe, 1991 was when I was hired, in ’93 we were opening our second store in Watertown. And the gentleman, Steve, who was with me, he was my mentor in Danbury, he said, “I’m gonna go run Watertown. You’re gonna stay behind and be the general manager in Danbury.” So that was 1993.

20:34 CH: Two years in?

20:35 TI: Yeah, a couple years in.

20:37 CH: Yep.

20:37 TI: Which is almost crazy.

20:40 CH: Yeah.

20:42 TI: I was 23. Almost every person there was older than I was. But it was a great lesson in leading people, because I think it taught you how to lead from a position of humility and really from a servant’s standpoint. That you’re there as a leader to make their life easier, and to be on bended knee. And when you model that for your team, that ends up being what is given to the guests. They’re serving themselves. And so it took some time, but slowly but surely we got there. And there was an exchange of ownership several times in the Auto Park back in the day, in Danbury, and ultimately the decision was made by Saturn Corporation that they didn’t want our stores owned by the conglomerate that it had become.

21:35 CH: Okay.

21:36 TI: And so they said, “You know what? We’re gonna buy our stores back. These two Saturn stores back,” Saturn Corporation. “And as a matter of fact, any publicly traded stores that are owned nationwide, we’re gonna buy all of those back.”

21:47 CH: Oh, wow.

21:48 TI: And so they bought 70 of them. Ours were the first two that they actually bought back. So next thing you know, we’re working for Saturn. And we got a really nice guy who was a trainer in Tennessee. He wasn’t all that focused on profitability. So the stores kind of went from making a decent profit to losing a lot of money. And Steve, my mentor, couldn’t stomach that. It’s like, “I’m not watching this guy drive our business into the ground.” So he deselected and left. And I was saying to Steve, I’m like, “Just hang in there ’cause this can’t go on forever.”

22:20 CH: Yeah, we can get through…

22:21 TI: Yeah, we can get through this. And ultimately the decision was made and he was like, “No, I’m out.” And he left and I stayed. And probably about six or seven months later, it was determined that he was leaving, the guy that was running the stores and that I would become the executive manager over both. And so now I was running both facilities.

22:44 CH: Wow.

22:45 TI: And in 2000 there were rumblings that they were gonna sell all the stores that they had. And so I said, “You know what? I don’t wanna work for anybody else. I really don’t want our stores to go to another stranger and you gotta start over again. So, I wanna buy them.” And of course they said to me, “Well, do you have $2,500,000?”

23:11 TI: And it was moving into… I guess we were pretty well into 2001 at that point, and I didn’t have the $2,500,000. But it turns out there’s a bank within General Motors.

23:25 CH: Oh, wow.

23:25 TI: That was started… It’s a little, unknown bank, but it was started during the Great Depression to help dealers get through tough times, or to expand or grow. And I said, “Well, what about this?” And they said, “Yeah, well, that’s… Not a lot of people use it, but it can be done.” And basically I had to come up with $300,000 to buy into the business, and they put up $2.2 million.

23:50 CH: Wow.

23:50 TI: And what’s amazing about that is they’re the only bank in the world that will lend you money when you don’t need it. Or excuse me, when you need it and there’s no assets.

24:00 CH: Oh, okay. I got it.

24:00 TI: Well, think about it, right? When you buy a house or a car, there’s an asset. When you buy a business like a car dealership, and you’re not buying the building, what is there?

24:08 CH: That’s true.

24:09 TI: There’s nothing. You just need cash and lots of it. You need a lot of money to run it. And so in 2001, I became the dealer and principal and then owned both stores.

24:22 CH: Awesome.

24:25 TI: Yeah, it was pretty cool. And then how it works…

24:26 CH: And how old were you then?

24:27 TI: 31.

24:28 CH: Okay.

24:28 TI: So it was about 10 years later.

24:30 CH: Yep.

24:30 TI: And so… And by the way, there’s not, I don’t think, a day or a week that goes by now that I go, “Gosh, I don’t know how I ran this place not knowing that.” So it’s a constant learning curve in our business.

24:43 CH: Always, yeah.

24:43 TI: So if I’m thinking back on 30 years of how much knowledge was acquired in that timeframe, it makes it even more crazy…

24:52 CH: Yeah.

24:52 TI: That I was able to do it then. But failure just simply wasn’t an option.

24:57 CH: Yeah.

24:58 TI: It never dawned on me that we could fail. And when we went in, the $300,000, I remember taking a second mortgage on my home, cashing in my savings bonds, and liquidating my 401K in order to do it. Which comes with a huge tax penalty, it turns out.

25:15 CH: Yeah. Which is like 20% or something ridiculous, right?

25:17 TI: I think it’s more than that. It’s almost 50% by the time you’re done. And the other thing is, anytime you’re with Motors Holding, they set what your salary is. So about 10 people in our company earned significantly more than I did for the time period that you’re in business. But each quarter that goes by, you redeem your stock. And so you kind of work your way…

25:38 CH: So you’re getting sweat equity basically, which is…

25:40 TI: That’s exactly right. Just enough to get by, but not putting any money, really, aside or in the bank. And what’s interesting too, and I think it’s kind of a misunderstanding in businesses, cash is king. You need a lot of cash to run a business, and especially the automobile industry. It uses a lot of cash. But my cash was never growing. Any money I made went to redeem stock or pay taxes. So I was always left with the same exact amount of working capital that I started with. So if the business was growing, I always had the same amount I started with. Which meant you had to work with leaner and leaner and leaner amounts of money constantly, which means you’re honing those skills all the time…

26:25 CH: Yeah, you’re constantly refining them on how to run it.

26:26 SJ: You need to know your margins. You need to know…

26:28 CH: Everything.

26:29 SJ: All of those numbers, like to a point.

26:31 TI: That’s exactly right.

26:31 SJ: Yeah, that’s awesome.

26:32 TI: So in that time period and after we were able to acquire the property in Watertown. And then we bought the property in Danbury.

26:41 CH: Now you can make the gains, like you said, owning the property is where…

26:45 TI: That’s very helpful.

26:46 CH: Yes.

26:47 TI: Because typically in a deal, he who controls the land, controls the deal.

26:51 CH: Yep.

26:51 TI: Right? And so that ultimately is a very important part to any business. And so it took me about seven years and we got the franchise paid off. And in that time period, I was able… My mentor, I was able to actually bring him back into our company.

27:12 CH: That’s awesome. That’s great.

27:12 TI: So Steve was running Watertown, I was running Danbury. And we got it paid off and we got the property acquired and Newtown Savings Bank was actually the bank that helped me do that. And a great lesson in life there was banking local. Whether it’s Newtown Savings Bank or any of them in the area, you know them, they know you, and I think it’s incredibly important to do business with the people that can help you during very difficult times. And they were coming. They were on the horizon for us. It was…

27:51 SJ: I’ve been there. It’s a lot different when you can face a person and they know you and they see you in the community. They go to bat for you.

28:00 TI: Yes.

28:00 SJ: That person that’s… Not to say that they take huge risks, but they’re gonna take a risk because they know you, that’s your business, they see you around town and stuff like that. So local banks, I agree 100% with that. And that’s something I’ve always done with inside a business as well, because you have to, because they will take care of you in a sense that the bigger banks won’t because they don’t know you. You’re just a Social Security number.

28:25 TI: Yeah. Yeah, my grandfather used to say, “Banks never lend you money when you need it.”

28:28 SJ: Yeah.

28:28 SJ: No, it’s true.

28:30 TI: And it is true. So we’re feeling pretty good. We got the business kind of paid off. We got the property acquired. And then the entire world blew up.

28:40 SJ: Yep.

28:41 TI: We entered into the great recession.

28:43 SJ: The recession hit.

28:44 TI: And it was really, as we all know now, unparalleled. Nothing had ever really in our lifetime, and hopefully never does again…

28:54 SJ: No.

28:54 TI: Hit like that. And in the automobile industry, obviously, there’s a tremendous amount of people.

28:58 CH: Pretty hard.

29:00 TI: Yeah, and I was serving on a dealer council for Saturn at the time, and the word came out that they were going to put four brands up for review. And General Motors consisted of eight brands in the US at that time. So there was Buick, GMC, Chevrolet and Cadillac. And then, there was also Pontiac, Saab, Hummer and Saturn. And the latter four were on the outside of the cup looking in. And it was going to be determined whether those brands would go forward. And so the question was, does anybody wanna buy them, and start bringing cars in through this terrific network of 300 Saturn stores in the country? And Roger Penske said, “Yeah, I do wanna buy Saturn, and I’m gonna get whoever to build cars, but this will be the whole team that will actually deliver the cars, and deliver this great experience.” ‘Cause in order to be a Saturn dealer at the time, you were amongst the top 4% or 5% of all GM dealers in the country. So it was really the best of the best.

30:05 CH: Yeah.

30:06 TI: And Roger Penske said, “Yep, I’m doing it.” And for the next eight months he batted out the entire process. And he was taking delivery of Saturn on September 30th of 2009, and that day, GM executed their documents in the morning, the website was going live at midnight that night, all the computer systems were switched, everything was basically a go. All of the people in GM that worked for Saturn transferred to his team.

30:34 SJ: Yeah.

30:35 TI: And I get a phone call at 3:00 in the afternoon from the Wall Street Journal, because I was handling for the dealer council media relations, and the guy said me, “Hey, this is Paul at Wall Street Journal. I just wanted to get a quote from you that Roger Penske decided not to do the deal.”

30:52 CH: What a way to find out, huh?

30:54 TI: Yeah, that was pretty tough.

30:57 CH: Yeah, I can’t imagine.

31:00 TI: And I said, “Well, what are you talking about? I just finished reviewing the website.” And he goes, “We didn’t even know.” And he said, “Yeah, it’s over.” And I said, “I gotta go.” And it was a devastating afternoon to have to face your team, right?

31:18 CH: Yeah.

31:19 TI: And you have to talk with them, and gather them up, and say, “Hey, it’s not gonna work, the Saturn portion, but hang in there, ’cause we’re gonna be okay.”

31:26 CH: Yeah, I’m gonna still keep fighting…

31:28 TI: Yeah.

31:28 CH: Yeah.

31:29 TI: We’ll figure out what the next step is. And I remember coming home that night, and Tammy greeting me at the back door, and saying, “I’m sorry everything you worked for is gone.”

31:38 CH: Yeah.

31:38 TI: And I said to her, I said, “I’m married to my best friend, we have three healthy children, and nothing is as bad as my seven-four-day as a rescue swimmer.

31:47 CH: I was just getting ready. Yeah, I can imagine, I was gonna say that.

31:50 TI: And it was so true. That really was the high-water mark for difficult moments in my life. And there was… That taught me that the sun would come up, that life would go on, and to have faith in all three things. And that we’d figure it out. And the next day I got a phone call that said, “Look, there’s gonna be a re-organization of every dealer in the country, and because GM is going to go through re-organization itself, they can choose which dealers they’re going to have, and which ones they’re not. And we are going to get you Buick and GMC.” And so on…

32:26 SJ: Do you think that that had a lot to do with how they saw how hard you fought to try to keep the Saturn brand?

32:32 TI: Well, I think it had more to do with two other… Three factors. One, the 10 acres in Danbury on a brand new facility that would go dormant.

32:42 CH: Great play, obviously.

32:44 TI: Yeah, the fabulous team that I had working there, and the fact that for many months just with Saturn we outsold every other GM store in the area combined.

32:56 CH: Wow.

32:58 TI: So we sold a lot of Saturns.

33:00 CH: And that was with the smaller location, or the big…

33:02 TI: Both.

33:03 CH: Okay.

33:03 TI: But the bigger one, obviously, we didn’t have open very long. Obviously, before it was going away.

33:08 CH: Yeah, so you weren’t fully dealing with that.

33:08 TI: Yeah. And so they said, “Look, we’re gonna try to get you Buick and GMC.” And then I locked myself in an office, a war room, and with clear pads of paper and stick notes, and started working on… And it reminded me now, when I saw that movie, Apollo 13, of what it was like, ’cause the meter couldn’t go over, there were certain things…

33:28 CH: Yeah, I love that part.

33:29 TI: Yeah, we couldn’t do it.

33:31 CH: Yeah. Take it out.

33:32 TI: Yeah, exactly. And it was one of those situations where we were lean with cash, because I had just finished building the buildings. I had just finished paying off Motors Holding.

33:44 CH: You were vested.

33:46 TI: Yeah, and none of your working capital had increased, right?

33:49 CH: Yeah.

33:49 TI: So you still had basically what you had eight years ago, which was a really tough position to be in. But one of the first things we needed to do was go out and buy cars, and so we went out and bought 400 or 500 Saturns from stores that were gonna close immediately, which gave us enough runway to get the brand off the ground. And then, we laid out a plan to sit with the board of directors of Newtown Savings Bank, and tell them about, “Look, we’re gonna get this. We’re gonna work through that. We’re gonna make all this stuff happen.” And I remember John Martocci, he was the chairman and president at the time, saying to me when we left the meeting, he put his hand on my shoulders, and he said, “You know, sometimes we don’t buy the deal. It’s the person.”

34:30 CH: That’s awesome. That’s the local bank.

34:33 TI: That is the local bank.

34:34 CH: I don’t know that the big corporate banks are ever saying that comment.

34:37 TI: No, they wouldn’t. They would…

34:38 CH: They would probably get in big trouble if they said that.

34:39 TI: Yeah, well, and they probably would have said, “Thanks so much for being on the show. But the party’s over.”

34:45 CH: Yeah, exactly.

34:46 TI: You turn out the lights.

34:47 CH: That’s great, though.

34:48 TI: And they didn’t, and they really were by my side, they believed in me.

34:52 CH: Yeah, that’s great. I mean, you gave them a history of what…

34:56 TI: Yeah.

34:56 CH: To do that, you know, So that’s great.

34:58 TI: And so, pretty shortly thereafter we got our first little glimmer of hope and on Christmas Eve. So if you think about it, Saturn went away September 30th, and Christmas Eve was the day we were given Buick GMC for Danbury.

35:13 CH: That’s great.

35:14 TI: And so then I went door to door in Watertown, literally just walking in dealerships asking their dealer for the dealer principal and if they’d be interested in selling the franchise, and the guy who had Buick and GMC there said, “Yes.” And you know, he shot me a number which was pretty extraordinary, and I didn’t have the money at the time. And I’ve had such great blessings through all of the stuff of people that were put in my path to help and guide me through things and he shot me a number and I said, “No, that sounds terrific.” And I very shortly thereafter got a phone call from GM Legal who said, completely not connected to this at all, but said, “You built the building in Danbury?” “I did,” and, “We took your franchise.” “You did.” “Well, we’re having a one time settlement, and it’s non negotiable,” and it ended up being the exact number that I needed to buy the franchise in Watertown.

36:19 SJ: Wow. And everything just aligned.

36:21 TI: It just aligned perfectly. And so that check went to him and I closed on that deal in April of 2010, and then the Chevrolet and Cadillac was in play in Danbury and the owner there agreed he was gonna make some different strategic moves and sell it. And he did and allowed me to pay him over the next five years, which was great. So we closed on that on August 31st of 2010, so it was my 40th birthday.

36:54 SJ: Nice.

36:55 TI: And 11 months to the day we went from no franchise to all four in Danbury and the two in Watertown and the company was saved.

37:03 SJ: That’s awesome. That’s just… It’s funny because you wanna say that it’s luck, right? But it’s not luck. It’s…

37:12 TI: You need a little luck.

37:13 SJ: Yeah, but what… The quote that I love the best is “Luck is when hard work meets opportunity,” you know what I mean? And if you put yourself in that position and you work hard, like you always have, good things are gonna happen and in the back of your mind, you almost kinda knew that, you’re like, “I’ll get through this rough patch and we can keep going,” because of the things that you said, that you encountered within the Navy, and just growing up.

37:38 TI: Yeah, and I think, you know, a lot of people work hard.

37:42 SJ: Yeah.

37:43 TI: And put themselves in the right position and the right thing doesn’t necessarily happen.

37:49 SJ: Yeah, that’s true.

37:51 TI: But what I think is most important about that is, is that you never take for granted the people that helped you get there, the community that supported you. We had people at the time that came into our facility that said, “Look, I don’t need a car, but I think you need me to buy one.”

38:09 CH: That’s awesome.

38:10 TI: And they did.

38:11 CH: Yeah, thats great.

38:12 TI: And we had folks on our team who went to the HR department and took a cut in salary to help the company get through and never said anything. Just said, “Reduce my salary.”

38:23 CH: That’s great.

38:24 TI: So we are pretty proud of the fact that when you ask folks, “How many did I have to let go at the time?” I always tell people “It’s none, but more importantly, how many left is the same answer, none.” They all stayed.

38:37 SJ: Yeah. That’s great.

38:38 TI: And then very quickly after that we had to actually put an addition on the new facility in Danbury, because…

38:47 CH: Team was actually growing.

38:47 TI: It was now growing. The company went from this death spiral to expanding at such a rapid rate, and service in our industry is really important.

38:55 SJ: Yes.

38:55 TI: I think it’s often overlooked. A lot of dealer principals come up from the sales side, and so service is treated almost as an annoyance, and I love the service side of our business.

39:10 CH: You guys do an amazing job with service.

39:11 TI: Well, we certainly stumble plenty, but when we do…

39:14 SJ: It happens. I mean, plus with the volume that you guys are doing, it happens, but you always make good.

39:18 TI: Right.

39:19 SJ: That’s the thing, you make mistakes, people make mistakes.

39:21 TI: Yes.

39:21 SJ: But you always make good, you know what I mean?

39:22 TI: That’s what you have to do, is recognize when you’ve made an error and try to correct it and be kind.

39:29 SJ: Yup.

39:29 TI: I think that that’s a big piece to it, too. So, Danbury ended up getting this new building, and then almost immediately after we had to put a 50% addition on it. And so, to give you an idea, our Service Department went from 17 service bays to 33.

39:45 SJ: Yup.

39:47 TI: And now, we’re open seven days a week, we’ve started a second shift in the evening to accommodate the business that we have coming through, so we’ve been very lucky. And then several years ago, the Pawling opportunity over in New York State became available, and Steve had now become a partner in the organization. And one night he had said to me, he said, “If this doesn’t work out,” and this was in the depths of everything, “I want you to know I’m the last person who walks out of here with you.”

40:18 CH: That’s awesome.

40:19 TI: “I won’t leave you.” And that was the day I was for sure told myself, “He will be a partner in this and I’ll get him a portion of the equity in the company.” And so when Pawling…

40:32 CH: That’s Pawling?

40:34 TI: Yeah, when Pawling came along, he’s been running that facility and we did Motors Holding up there again and this year, instead of seven years to pay it back, he had it done in about 18 months.

40:44 CH: Great.

40:44 TI: So that store has been wildly successful. He’s done a terrific job running it with his son up there. And so it’s… Yeah, the three locations, kinda Danbury’s the mothership in the middle, Watertown is to our east, and Pawling is to the west.

41:00 SJ: It’s funny because I bought a Saturn when I was really young. Just like I said, it was cost effective. You could put a ton of dents in it. You couldn’t put a dent in it, actually, which was great for a teenager. And then throughout the years, I’ve always purchased from Ingersoll. And whenever I… I think it’s… With the Saturn and then I think I’ve purchased four cars, since then. They call me like the demo king.

41:24 SJ: Every two or three years, it’s like, “Oh, hey, so and so’s wife, the demo got turned in, let’s go sell this one to Scott Johnson.”

41:30 TI: Yeah. Yeah.

41:33 SJ: So yeah, so… But one of the things that I noticed when I’m talking to service is I feel like it’s a direct connection of you. I feel like it’s you speaking and that comes down to, like you said, being a leader and having your people speak your message. We saw Bobby Valentine speak at the Better Business Bureau and that’s one thing he said, make sure your people speak the same language as you, and that’s huge.

41:57 TI: So one of the things we do is every new team member that comes on board in our company, I spend a day offsite with them.

42:04 SJ: Wow.

42:04 TI: So… And obviously, it’s a class, it’s not alone.

42:07 SJ: Not now.

42:07 TI: Yeah.

42:07 SJ: A helicopter simulation.

42:08 TI: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So there’s typically 10 or 12 folks, sometimes 16, sometimes 20, and we spend the first part of the afternoon going over the history of the company, ’cause I want them to know where we came from. And then the second part is all about the culture and what my expectations are. And I talk to them about our five core values, and we call them the three Cs and the two Ts, and they’re very simple. It’s commitment to guest enthusiasm and that’s, “I don’t want a satisfied guest. I want somebody who’s enthusiastic about our company.” Commitment to excel. No half-hearted efforts. Continuous improvement. We can always do better and should. Teamwork. And not the corporate buzz word of the 1990s, but truly, if you see somebody struggling, you lend them a hand. And then the one that binds all of them together, which is trust and respect for the individual, and that’s the other T. That’s the one that is the human and compassionate side to the whole business. And when you give people those five core values and you say, “Look, base all of your decisions on this,” it really… It’s not enough to say somebody’s empowered to spend $500 to satisfy a guest. ’cause maybe it needs to be $1000, maybe it needs to be $20. But when you say to them, “Look, when you made the decision not to honor a coupon for $10, which one of the core values did that uphold?”

43:41 SJ: Yeah.

43:43 TI: And very soon it gets quiet. And then you say, “And if you had done it, which one would it have upheld?” And they’ll say, “Well, it would have done continuous improvement. It would have been trust and respect.” And you go, “Correct.” And so then you can coach and counsel around those five core values. And I always tell people, I’m like, “You think of core values like the love that you have for your children.” They… It’s set in bedrock. There’s nothing that changes that. It is terra firma. It doesn’t move and these don’t move. Our mission can change, what we do can change.”

44:20 SJ: The values.

44:21 TI: The core values do not change ever and they are set in those things. And so, hopefully, that’s what you sense when you’re there, and I think it is. I think that that’s what the team does. And we take feedback from our guests very serious. We try to improve upon the things that they talk about. And then, the other things, we have a bunch of silly rules that we do too, like when you’re within six feet of a guest, you say hello.

44:47 SJ: Yeah, and you call ’em a guest too, which I think is great.

44:50 TI: Yeah. Well, it changes how people are treated.

44:53 SJ: Yeah.

44:54 CH: Right.

44:54 TI: Somebody who’s a guest in your home is different than a customer.

44:57 CH: Yeah.

44:57 SJ: Right. I always loved that. I always thought that was a nice touch.

45:00 TI: Yeah.

45:01 CH: Yeah.

45:01 TI: And there’s… So there’s a lot of little things that you do and it’s about doing 1000 things 1% better.

45:08 SJ: Yep.

45:08 TI: It isn’t about…

45:09 SJ: It’s the little things.

45:09 TI: It’s the little things.

45:10 SJ: Yep.

45:10 TI: It’s not typically about moving mountains.

45:13 SJ: No.

45:13 TI: It’s usually just little things.

45:14 SJ: And that’s what people appreciate.

45:16 TI: I think so. I think so.

45:19 SJ: So one of the things that you said is a lot of the community came in, and even the bank and people who purchase cars from you. One of the things that I love that you do is when you finally got there, you gave back. When you got through all those struggles, you give back and you do it consistently. I love to see it. You do some really, really good things. Kind of want to just mention a few, and then I wanna run your radio spot that you’re doing now, ’cause I think that’s awesome. Some of the things that you do around town and around this area, Edmond Town Hall Theater, right? You replaced the projector there I think?

46:01 TI: Oh, yeah. We did do that.

46:02 SJ: And then you do the free movies, right?

46:04 TI: Mm-hmm, yeah. Second weekend of every month.

46:08 SJ: That’s awesome. I remember when you spoke for the… What class was it? Was it ’17?

46:14 TI: Yes.

46:14 SJ: 2017, Bethel High School?

46:16 TI: Yeah. Bethel High School. That was my high school so they asked me to do the commencement speech there, yeah.

46:21 SJ: And then you were gonna give away, what is it, one car?

46:24 TI: Well, yeah. We actually saved that for the end. We did three scholarships that we set up that day and then a grant for the teachers, then at the end asked the kids if they would like to send in a hand-written essay, front and back, two pages about why they were uniquely deserving of a gift, and that we would go live on Facebook and deliver that gift. The day actually we were going to do it, there were two other essays that were just so touching to me that I couldn’t leave ’em behind, so we did three.

47:00 SJ: That video was great of you guys just driving around in the rain.

47:03 TI: Yeah, pouring rain.

47:04 SJ: Soaking wet.

47:05 TI: Pouring rain.

47:05 SJ: Soaking wet.

47:05 TI: It didn’t matter, that made it all…

47:07 SJ: Oh, and just the kids’ faces and stuff like that was just… It was just great.

47:20 SJ: I know you do the thing with the laptops which is… That’s great.

47:23 TI: So, the laptops is a cool story. That started in Bethel High where they asked us to sponsor their prom, after-prom party to keep kids from going out and partying. And I said, “Well, how about a laptop or something significant that they could auction off?” And they said, “Oh, that’d be great.” And the kid who won it the first year actually had a full-ride to West Point and didn’t need it. He noticed a kid that he thought could and gave it to him. Well, that kid went to his guidance counselor and said, “It changed my life.” He’s like, “I don’t have a computer at home, and so this allowed me to actually play sports. I didn’t have to run to the library after school.” And it got us thinking, “Well, how many other kids are there like that in Newtown, in Bethel, in Danbury, in New Fairfield, in New Milford, in Brookfield?” And we now have… We’ll have almost 600 of them deployed in those schools this year.

48:17 SJ: That’s great.

48:17 TI: They can sign them out and they have them for the whole year, and it was really neat. At Danbury High, we were dropping off the next wave, and one of the young women came up to me and said, “I’ve had an Ingersoll computer all four years,” and she goes, “And I just applied to college.” And we… And she goes… And I said to her, “Well, when you get accepted, send me a note.” And she did, and we brought her over a brand new Mac that she could take to school with her.

48:44 SJ: Oh, that is great. That’s awesome.

48:47 TI: Those are just… It’s actually the best part of my job. It really is. ‘Cause I think we were saved, and I think we owe it.

48:56 SJ: Yeah. Giving back. Yeah.

49:00 TI: I think you have a moral responsibility to give back to the community that’s been so good to you.

49:05 SJ: Yeah. And I mean, as other… I know for me as a business owner, when you hear other business owners doing that, you love your community anyway, but when you can kinda snowball that for yourself as well, like, “He’s doing something. I should do something for my community as well,” when you’re in the position. I think that’s awesome. One of the things that you’ve always said that I love, that I’ve heard you say a few times is, “When you don’t have money and you go into business, you have to take huge risks, like life.”

49:38 TI: Yes.

49:40 SJ: And I’m in the same boat. I didn’t come from money. Everything that I’ve built, I’ve built by my own, and it resonates with me, you know, so… It really hits home because it’s true. You have to take huge chances. That’s one of the things that I’ve always admired about you, along with the things that you do around the community. Something new that you’re actually doing that I heard a radio spot for that’s really, really awesome. I heard it the other day, saw it on Facebook. I wanted to kind of share that. We can hear your awesome radio voice as well.

50:20 TI: Yes.

50:20 SJ: Alright, here we go. I’m just gonna get this casted up here. And cast that. Alright. Here we go. 9,000 views already, good job. So, this is running on the radio currently?

50:33 TI: Yeah.

50:34 SJ: Alright.

50:34 TI: A version of it.

50:36 SJ: Okay. This is a little long.

50:36 TI: They say actions speak louder than words. Ingersoll Automotive doesn’t normally advertise on the radio. I guess we believe most folks know we have amazing values to offer when it comes to Chevys, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs. You see, I believe the way cars and trucks are sold and serviced matters. Simply, kindness matters. We’ve been blessed with another terrific year and want to give back to the community that takes such good care of us. So throughout November, send us an email or a note on Facebook, heck, even a letter to the store, if you have an idea on how we can help someone and truly make a difference in their lives. Then, starting in December, we’re gonna go live on Facebook and share some good news for a change. And together, we’ll brighten someone’s day, week, month, heck, even their year, sharing some kindness. On behalf of my family and the team I represent, I’m Todd Ingersoll. Thank you for being so supportive of Ingersoll Auto. We look forward to your ideas, so email us at kindness@ingersollauto.com.

51:47 SJ: That’s the kids from the cars, right?

51:49 TI: Yeah, yeah. That’s them.

51:51 SJ: That’s awesome.

51:51 TI: The ones from the cars.

51:53 SJ: So, yeah. Tell us a little about… Tell us a little bit about that.

51:56 TI: We helped 98Q get an ad purchased this summer from Chevrolet nationally, and I don’t normally advertise on the radio. And so as a thank you they said, “Gee, we’re gonna get you some spots.” And, I’m not real big on the, “$1.99 a month. Push, pull, or pull your tree. It’s $4,000 on every single thing.”

52:18 SJ: Even though you have the voice for it, you’re not…

52:20 TI: Well, I just think it’s insulting. I think it’s insulting to people’s intelligence.

52:24 SJ: And it’s never that when you get there, anyway.

52:25 TI: Well, if it is, honestly, if you have a $100 car, how can it be worth $4,000?

52:30 SJ: Yeah.

52:31 TI: It’s not logical, and it’s just… It’s moving stuff around.

52:34 SJ: Yeah, that’s what it is. Yep.

52:37 TI: So it’s… And I think it’s… I think it’s wrong, and so I didn’t want this to be about that. And so, reluctantly, I said, “Okay, I’ll do the advertising, but it’s not gonna be anything that has to do with selling cars.” So it was like, “You know what? We should come up with some program that allows people to tell us how we can make an impact.” I think… Look, obviously, there’s brand recognition and what we stand for, but let everybody else… It’s I think understood that we have got great values when it comes to Chevrolets, Buicks, GMCs and Cadillacs, and they’re gonna be great prices. But what sets you apart from doing business elsewhere, and how do you say to somebody, “We’re not gonna steal or cheat in service, but we’re gonna convince you that we’re gonna do that to you in sales.” I just don’t think it lines up.

53:29 SJ: No, no.

53:31 TI: And so… And I just penned that at my desk literally in a couple of minutes. I just jotted it down. It’s easy to talk about stuff from your heart. I went over and cut the spot at 98Q, and Mike was like, “I’m not sure I like the part where you say you don’t normally advertise on the radio.”

53:48 TI: I said, “Well, but it’s true, Mike. I normally don’t.” And we’re getting a great response. We’ve gotten probably 100 and some odd already in to us about different things.

54:00 SJ: That’s great. I can’t wait to see it when you guys roll it out.

54:01 TI: Yeah. We’re anxious to do some pretty cool stuff in December, which is a good month to do it, I think.

54:08 TI: Yeah, well, that’s when people are gonna need it the most, too.

54:10 TI: That’s correct, yeah.

54:13 SJ: Right now is usually a part of our show where we have Kev, our intern, ask one question, but Kev is not here, so, Chase?

54:21 TI: Chase the Millennial.

54:21 CH: I knew this, I knew it was gonna come to this.

54:24 SJ: So, Chase?

54:25 CH: Here’s the thing about my question is that, before the show, I was thinking about what to ask you. I think the most obvious thing was to just ask, “Hey, if you had one piece of advice that you could give to a young entrepreneur like myself, someone who’s just starting out. I’m literally just starting out, I’ve been here for a year. But someone who’s in the beginning stages of their career. If you had one piece of advice, what would that be?” I’ll open that question up to you, but I just wanna say, man, it’s… You’ve covered so many things in this podcast that it’s almost like, “What’s left? What other advice could you give?” But I’ll go ahead and pose that question to you and see kinda what…

55:12 TI: I would tell you: Grit, no quit.

55:15 SJ: That’s awesome.

55:18 TI: I think that a lot of people throw in the towel too soon, and they don’t hang in there. Something angers them, their feelings are hurt. They feel as though it’s like, “I’m not getting my promotion, I didn’t get this. I should be further along.” Sometimes that’s the stuff that actually separates the ultimate winner from the loser is the person who actually hung in there long enough to find success. That’s what I would tell you. And then never forget, obviously, what got you there, and remain true to your core values, whatever they are.

55:57 SJ: That’s awesome, that’s great.

55:57 CH: Yeah, no, that’s perfect.

56:00 SJ: It’s funny ’cause Chase, he’s kinda almost like the situation that you had with your mentor. I foresee him as an entrepreneur even though he works for me, ’cause he puts in the type of time, and he does all of the things that need to be done. He comes in early, stays late. I foresee us having hopefully a journey like yours where I’m able to bring him in and be a partner, because that’s the way that he works, and he’s gonna earn it slowly over time. I told him, I said… ’cause he’s a great young kid and I told him, I’m like, “You can be better than me because you’re gonna learn what I have, plus you got the Loyola education.”

56:41 CH: And it didn’t come cheap either.

56:42 SJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

56:44 TI: So remember, Chase. “Grit, no quit.”

56:47 SJ: Yeah, that’s great, we’re gonna actually get that on the wall in the office, maybe. I’ll put the different quotes around and stuff in the office.

56:52 TI: Yeah.

56:53 CH: Yeah, let’s do that.

56:54 SJ: But listen, I really, really appreciate you coming by.

56:56 TI: Glad to do it.

56:58 SJ: Love what you’re doing with the acts of kindness. Can’t wait to see that stuff roll out.

57:02 TI: Me too.

57:04 SJ: Have a great Thanksgiving, great holidays, you and your family.

57:07 TI: You too, Scott.

57:08 SJ: Appreciate it.

57:08 CH: Take care, man.

57:09 SJ: Alright.

57:09 TI: Happy holidays.

57:10 SJ: Thanks.

57:10 TI: Thank you. Thanks for coming through.

57:11 SJ: Alright, guys, we’ll be signing off. And until the next time, eee you then. Thanks.