With Volusia County’s rich racing heritage, it seems only natural that the automotive sales industry would thrive in our area. And it has. The Daytona Auto Mall is the largest auto mall in Florida and among the largest in the United States. We asked Randy Dye, one of the original owners, to tell us what drives his business and fuels his success.
From Dirt Lot to Daytona Beach
Dye came from modest beginnings. He worked his way up from the dirt lot he opened in the winter of 1979 in a distant Pennsylvania town, to owning some of the most successful auto dealerships in Daytona Beach. He was driven to this business by his passion for cars. Dye remembers loving cars at a young age, and he was first introduced to the Daytona Beach area at age 15 when he and his father attended the 1976 Daytona 500. Dye fell in love with the place and the people and knew immediately this was where he wanted to build his future.
That future started when he moved to Daytona Beach in 1982. He purchased his first dealership—a Dodge dealership located on International Speedway Boulevard—in 1997. Dye moved that dealership into the Daytona Auto Mall in January 2002, after the auto mall broke ground and while it was still under construction. He continued to expand, and in the years since, has worked his way to owning a number of dealerships within the Daytona Auto Mall, including Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, and Fiat. Dye is proud to be one of only 25 dealerships in the United States that are part of the Chrysler Dealer Council. Dye’s current operations employ more than 150 people, and he is eager to bring more locals into his employee family.
The Right Place, The Right Time
Dye is just one of several owners in a business complex that currently includes 13 auto dealerships. The Daytona Auto Mall is an impressive facility that covers over 27 acres and offers consumers 16 major auto brands. In 2000, when the Auto Mall broke ground, many of the original owners, including Dye, believed it would be tough to fill all 100,000 square feet with vehicles. It was a novel concept, but it took much less time than anyone expected. It turns out that the community loved having such a wide selection of all types, makes, and models of vehicles on the same property.
Fueling Success: One Part Strategy, Two Parts People
Dye attributes his success, in part, to his philosophy on how to grow and manage a business. According to Dye, in order to progress in any business, you need to combine “instinct with knowledge” to figure out the best path for your business. For example, back in 2008—when the financial market was in a slump, many auto dealerships and manufacturers, including Chrysler, were struggling, and politicians were talking about how some very well-known brands may disappear in the near future—Dye’s gut told him that Chrysler wasn’t going anywhere. He looked into purchasing a Chrysler-owned Jeep franchise. He did his research. He found out the government was offering financing and ultimately concluded it was a good purchase to make. He was right—buying low allowed him to reap benefits when the economy and Chrysler stabilized. Dye also believes that if you cannot mesh your gut instinct with research that backs up what you feel, then you are best to let that opportunity pass until you find the right one. He also recognizes the importance of finding a balance, making sure you do not stretch yourself too thin. “You need to pick and choose what ventures you opt into so that you can be more sure of what your future may bring,” he says.
Dye combines his savvy business sense with his love of people to turbocharge his businesses. A people-person by nature, Dye considers his interactions with others as one of the most rewarding parts of his job. Were it not for his meaningful relationships with his employees, customers, and the community that his dealerships are proud to be a part of, Dye believes he would not have achieved the same level of success. These connections make him who he is.
Dye likes to share his multi-faceted perspective of success with others. Instead of seeing himself as a boss at his business, Dye prefers to be a coach. The strategy Dye imparts to each of his employees and co-workers is this: “Always challenge yourself. Have long- and short-term goals. Don’t just think about what you can do today, but what you will still be able to do a month or a year from now. Think about what you are able to do for others, and always strive to reach for more.” He believes that by teaching others, everyone can reach greater levels of success.
Dye’s love for the Daytona Beach community is a recurring theme, and he believes in giving back to the community that supports his business. “We have an obligation to our community,” Dye says. It’s not all about business either. “You do it because it is the right thing to do [and] if you do it the right way, people reciprocate, because they see you are genuine and real. They see you care,” he explains. Since coming to the area in the early 1980s, Dye has been a strong supporter of community and local organizations. His advice to others is to “make sure to talk to current and potential community members, and find out how you can help.” Dye is involved in a number of community activities, such as:
When asked which he most enjoys, Dye says he could not pick one—each plays an integral role in our community’s success. However, he says, “In general, those things where children are involved are especially close to my heart, because adults can take on the responsibility of bettering their situation, but children sometimes need help to have a chance.”
Too often, as businesses grow, they take certain aspects of their community for granted. At the Daytona Auto Mall, those under Dye’s leadership and direction recognize that winning the race takes more than just an excellent driver with a fast car; you need a dedicated team and a strong relationship with your fan base.