When you are the only female in a room you tend to stand out—and that can be an advantage—says Carter Myers Automotive president and CEO Liza Borches.
Borches is the fourth generation running Carter Myers, taking over for her father in 2012.
“We started out in 1924 with just one Ford store,” Borches said in an interview with Mega Dealer News. “Now we have grown to owning 13 dealerships.”
Borches said coming into a business that was traditionally all-male was a great opportunity.
“I’ve learned from a lot of great guys,” Borches said. “I was able to see a lot of different styles of ways people run dealerships and I got to learn from a lot of guys who were typically a generation ahead of me and many of them took me under their wing and helped educate and mentor me.”
Borches said a longtime family joke is that her great great aunt, her namesake, might have been the first woman to ever own a dealership in the 1920s.
“She was selling life insurance for Northwestern Mutual in New York City and she was the only person in the company to have enough cash to keep the company afloat through the depression,” Borches said.
Borches said when she came back to the retail side of the business in 2003 from the wholesale side because she felt she could make a better impact running a dealership and she wanted to put down roots.
“I came back to Charlottesville and bought this little Volvo dealership in town,” Borches said. “I had never run a store before. When I came that first day to introduce myself to everyone, aside from maybe two technicians, I was the youngest person in the room.”
Borches said there were only three women who worked at the store.
“I definitely got the feeling of the male-dominated industry early on in my career,” Borches said. “But I give men a lot of credit. I've always felt very welcomed in meetings.”
Borches said she had confidence in her ability to connect with her team and with other dealers and tried to learn from those around her.
“I think the biggest positive that comes from being a female in a male-dominated industry is that many times I'm the only woman in the room and I stand out,” Borches said. “Sometimes you're able to have a little bit louder of a voice at the table and many of them want to take you under their mentorship and tell you their ideas that they may not want to tell their fellow man.”
Borches said she always tried to use being the only female to her advantage by making connections and make other dealerships realize she's not a threat and wants to learn from them.
“I believe there have been customers who have come to our dealership because they've gotten to know me and feel more comfortable with a woman,” Borches said. “I also think it's helped with recruiting more women into this industry.”
Borches said now, just under 50 percent of their service advisers were women.
“We believe strongly we need a diverse workforce,” Borches said. “We need to represent our customer base.”
Carter Myers Automotive has dealerships in Richmond, Charlottesville and Staunton, VA.