Our Record Courier Article!
Posted on: September 17, 2013
Finally got my hands on the Record Courier paper that featured a story about yours truly and all my female co-workers. I am so thankful for author Tom Nader for writing up an article that captured my story and DJ Toyota’s story. Here is the article:
Led by general manager Jess Joseph, Kent Dealership Don Joseph Toyota/Scion driven by women in typically male-dominated industry
by Tom Nader-Business Editor
Perceptions are something Jess Joseph has dealt with for a long time. It’s easy to add them up. She is the daughter of a car dealership owner. She is a woman working inside a typically male-dominated industry. And now, some think she is too young to be the general manager of a company.
Ever since she can remember, those same perceptions have been recycled into motivation for her to create her own success. She wanted to build a reputation that she could own, using the work ethic instilled in her by her father, Jeff Joseph, who is owner of Kent’s Don Joseph Toyota/Scion and never gave any free passes to his daughter.
When Jess started working for her dad in the parts and services department at the age of 15, he viewed her as another employee. He was still dad, but he directed his daughter to answer to her immediate supervisor, not him.
For Joseph, who is a graduate of Walsh Jesuit High School and earned a business degree at The Ohio State University, the hard work was recognized over time with promotions. First as a receptionist, then into sales and then she eventually took over the dealer’s finance department.
Joseph was recently appointed as the new General Manager of Don Joseph Toyota/Scion and has led a unique transformation of woman holding management positions — in a male-dominated industry — at the dealership.
“We say that we are driven by girl power, not horse power,” said a smiling Joseph, who is the third generation from her family to oversee the dealership.
“All of our employees are very good at what they do, and we all work together as a family,” Joseph said. “But I just find it fascinating the number of talented women we have working here. It is not just a job to them, I really think they see it as a career with opportunities.”
Joseph also thinks that it has its advantages in the atmosphere it created for customers.
“For our customers, we know that most walk into a car dealership feeling a little intimidated. I remember being intimidated walking into my own family’s dealership,” Joseph said. “We want to break down those walls, show that they can trust us and have faith in us. We are different.”
In total, the dealer has eight women, including Joseph, holding sales and upper management positions: Assistant finance manager Maggie McNamara, assistant service manager Jen Sheldon, internet sales leader, Brittany Bayus, finance manager Dana White, product specialist Marilyn Bonina, internet director Karen Tomaszewski, and director of finance Rachel Ringo.
Joseph took over as general manager for her father Jeff, 60, who is still the dealer’s acting owner and involved in the daily operations. At the forefront are plans to celebrate the dealer’s upcoming 50th anniversary in February. Don Joseph, the grandfather of Jess and father of Jeff, first opened the dealership in 1964.
Some of Joseph‘s initial plans after taking over as GM were to cater all processes to the customers, with immediate importance placed on the finance department and over all efficiency throughout the company.
“People are busy and time is money. We know that people don’t have all day to sit at a car dealership, so we want all of our processes to not only be quick and efficient, but transparent,” Joseph said.
Joseph also introduced a new marketing strategy and increased the dealer‘s online presence.
Joseph’s confidence in her abilities, accountability and passion to fulfill obligations has opened the eyes of her co-workers.
“Truthfully, I find what Jess is doing as inspirational,” Tomaszewski said. “To see a woman working in her capacity and being part of it day-to-day is something special to be associated with.”
While maintaining daily assignments and guiding the future of the company brings its satisfactions, Joseph said it is only part of what she feels is her proudest moment.
“I think what I am most proud of it that I was being told, ‘You can‘t do this. You can’t run a car dealership and be a mom’,” said Joseph, who is the mother of son Avery, 4, and Emilia, 2. “Not only did I do it, but I am doing it and not at the expense of my children. I am a very hands on mom.”