ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The auto business is primarily a male-dominated business, but that hasn’t in the least bit kept Annette DiLorenzo Thayer from succeeding, if not thriving.
So much so that in 2009, she was named the Time Magazine dealer of the year.
DiLorenzo Thayer is the dealer principal of Quality Mazda and is part of a third-generation family that also owns and operates Quality Buick GMC.
Her grandfather started selling cars in 1957. Her dad continued the tradition and then it was her turn.
DiLorenzo Thayer, however, took a different path into the business than rest of the family.
“I was the first member of my family to graduate from college,” she said, earning a double major from the University of New Mexico in English and economics. “So I can write you a really boring report on finances.”
But she got a something of a jolt at her graduation party.
“My dad said, ‘It’s time for you to pay your dues,'” DiLorenzo Thayer recalled.
Dilorenzo Thayer and the rest of the family children in her generation all worked at the dealerships on occasion, like doing inventory, but they were not allowed to take jobs away from paid employees.
“My father didn’t let us do anything part-time because he didn’t want us to take away from anybody’s livelihood. We weren’t allowed to take somebody else’s space.”
So when she started at the dealership, she got a new education, rotating through the different departments.
“The biggest thing was that our employees are first and ourselves second,” DiLorenzo Thayer said. “I am always trying to be part of the team.”
Never was that more evident than during the recent economic downturn.
“We didn’t fire anybody,” she said. “We lost some employees through attrition. And you had to budget, just like at your house. There were things that we had to remove like the free lunches for sales people on the weekends. Those are back now.”
The big thing, DiLorenzo Thayer said, is that the company’s employees realize that they are there for one reason: “Everybody is here to serve the customer. Nothing happens until you make a sale. Sell a car, sell a part, sell a service. We want to make the customers happy with our service.”