Findlay group grows during Great Recession

When the economy collapsed in 2008, Findlay Automotive Group was in the midst of a growth spurt that had seen five dealerships opened in 2007.

Already opened were Findlay Chevrolet off the 215 Beltway in the southwest valley, Findlay Acura in the Valley Automall, and Findlay Honda in the northwest valley on Azure Drive. The new Audi Henderson signaled the expansion of the Valley Automall to the east side of U.S. Highway 95, just as Findlay Toyota was breaking ground across the street.

Meanwhile, the group expanded out of state with Findlay Hyundai/Mazda in Idaho and acquired Findlay Toyota Flagstaff in 2008, the same year that Findlay Toyota opened a new dealership, three times the size of its original store, in Henderson.

As the economy continued through what was termed the worst recession since the Great Depression, Findlay continued bucking the odds by opening Findlay Volkswagen Flagstaff in 2009, Findlay Kia in St. George, Utah, in 2010 and Findlay Honda Flagstaff and Findlay Volkswagen North in Las Vegas in 2011. As the country began its rebound in 2012, Findlay opened another Southern Nevada location with Findlay Fiat in the Valley Automall, along with Audi Reno Tahoe and Findlay Nissan in Idaho.

The addition of Land Rover Reno this year at least temporarily capped the growth spurt.

Considered one of Nevada’s largest independently owned companies, maneuvering through the past five years was a challenge.

“We definitely had some sleepless nights during the recession,” said Findlay Chief Financial Officer Tyler Corder. “It wasn’t easy expanding at a time when the economy was rapidly declining. We owe a debt of gratitude to our staff because what makes this company so strong is the fact that our people work together through thick and thin.”

While cost-cutting adjustments were made to meet the challenges during the recession, each of the dealerships was completed and opened on time. And, according to Corder, all are operating successfully for the company founded more than 50 years ago by the late Pete Findlay, who moved his family to Las Vegas to open a used car lot on Boulder Highway in 1959. With operations now run by his son, Cliff Findlay, the automotive group has grown to 28 dealerships in Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Idaho.

Corder added that the Findlay organization has grown to more than 1,450 employees. Also, sales continue to grow in an industry that is usually the first to feel a recession and the first to signal a recovery.

Especially important during the past five years have been dealerships’ general managers. They include Findlay North Volkswagen’s James Cobbs, who has been with the group since April 1998. He has been with several of the group’s dealerships throughout the years.

“Our overall success is due to sound business practices and the customer appreciation,” said Cobbs, whose dealership was No. 1 in Las Vegas and the Volkswagen region in August. “We sustained because Findlay Automotive Group continued to support the community during the downturn. We didn’t give up when things got tough and instead, we hunkered down and worked harder.”

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