The Reagor Dykes Auto Group began operating in Lubbock, Texas, by nurturing local roots and connections, and a commitment to being more than the stereotypical small-town auto dealership. While continuing to invest generously in the communities from which they sprang, their leaders’ ambitions have produced an enterprise today encompassing 20-25 companies that have expanded well beyond typical auto dealer boundaries. Also, the group has grown to record sales numbers — hitting such well-known charts as the Inc. 5000 multiple times and the WardsAuto 2017 Megadealer 100 list. Sales are approaching $1 billion annually, according to CFO Shane Smith.
“It takes two things to be this successful—people and capital,” he says.
The company’s focus on people is evident in the number of community events Reagor Dykes supports, and the consideration owners give to employees. Businesses also need access to capital to grow, Smith says. That’s where Madison Capital of Owings Mills, Maryland, fits into the story.
First, a little background.
Bart Reagor started Reagor Auto Mall, LTD, in 2003 with a handful of employees, his personal capital, extensive knowledge, entrepreneurial spirit, and hard work to develop an automotive superstore. In 2006, Rick Dykes partnered with Reagor and the two have been building the Reagor Dykes Auto Group ever since. According to the company website, the group lives by the mottos: “Your friends in the car business” and “Any Car You Want.”
Reagor is a former star football player and Dykes is a former football coach. To encourage their employees to be healthy, the company took a unique step for an automotive business. They funded gym memberships and later decided to build a fitness center for their 650+ employees. Then, they decided to locate the fitness center in a downtown section of Lubbock needing redevelopment, and open it to the public.
“I had never bought fitness equipment before, and it’s expensive,” Smith recalls. So the company started leasing the equipment from Madison Capital. “They were quick to make decisions and get transactions closed,” he says. Madison Capital, which offers financing for both equipment and vehicles, today provides financing for the auto group’s furniture, fitness equipment, a company airplane, and some specialized vehicle funding.
Both companies have a “can do” attitude and both respect the power of women in business and leadership. Madison Capital’s president is Nancy Pistorio, one of few women in the equipment leasing and finance industry to be at the helm of a successful national financing company with a long-term track record. Reagor Dykes, leading in a male-dominated car sales business, recently welcomed a fresh and innovative idea from a female employee that led to a first-of-its-kind sales division devoted to women-to-women sales. With an appreciation for the fact that some women may be intimidated in the car-buying process, one of the company’s female sales executives, Marie Szczesny, broached the idea, and it was accepted and implemented at the company’s Dallas location.
While business flourishes at their multiple Texas locations, selling and operating online is not unusual for this fast-growing auto group. This year in the recognition by WardsAuto, Reagor Dykes was ranked #78 in the top 100 U.S. auto dealers and fourth in the country for
Smith says both company leaders think well beyond the usual borders that other businesses impose on themselves. “We have brick and mortar dealerships in Lubbock and Dallas selling Ford, Lincoln, Toyota, and Mitsubishi, but we can sell any car you want…and we will take and deliver cars anywhere in the country. We get a lot of business from outside of Texas,” says Smith.
It doesn’t matter that Madison Capital is several thousand miles away, “we’ve become friends,” he notes. But he said Madison’s speed and communications during the process are what makes them different. “They respond quickly, keep us in the loop, and they make decisions quickly. Then, they execute very rapidly. They are the only ones that I have dealt with that offer electronic signatures, so they are ahead of the game in that regard.”
In addition to working with Madison Capital, the company has agreements in place with other national firms such as US Bank, Ford Motor Credit and Ally Financial. Smith formerly worked for Ford Motor Credit.
Financing is a good way to free up capital for other business needs, says Smith. It has helped the company grow even during the economic downturn. The Reagor Dykes Auto Group attitude, he says, is to look at economic trends and industry data, but to keep its focus on the things they can control: customer service, employee relations and financing choices.