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Saturday, August 16, 2008

And, It Gets Great Gas Mileage!

foundercontact group

By Lydia Sugarman

Entrepreneurial Editor

Lydia's article is brought to you by foundercontact group

In the interest of full disclosure, this month’s interviewee is a great guy I affectionately refer to as my cousin-in-law, Greg Jones who married one of my favorite cousins.

Greg and Ann have lived all over the country and Canada while he worked for some of the major home improvement retail chains. Greg’s job was to come into troubled stores as “the Cleaner” making hard decisions and doing what needed to be done to turn the stores around. After landing a fantastic job with a Canadian company that would move them from sunny California, he was RIF-ed (reduction in force which is a fancy term for laid off) at the end of the first week.

Eventually, they found themselves in San Antonio, Texas and when the opportunity presented itself in the late 90’s, Greg took it to start Automania with a partner on the freeway between San Antonio and Austin, a very cool dealership for classic and collectible cars, motorcycles, memorabilia, and detailing service.

They launched their website,, very early on and one of their first sales was to a collector in Singapore. Since then, they’ve expanded their company with several locations in other Texas cities.

For all the fascinating similarities we are seeing in the entrepreneurs we’re introducing to you, it’s also interesting to learn how very different people coming from disparate backgrounds end up following an entrepreneurial path.

Greg Jones is one of those entrepreneurs who has taken all the lessons he learned within a unique corporate environment, retail building and home improvement supplies, to build a successful business that benefits from those lessons and feeds his soul by letting him pursue a personal passion.

Hey! We all want to be able to go to work every day in shorts and Hawaiian shirts like Greg!

His wife, Ann, is a successful real estate agent with Phyllis Browning in San Antonio, Texas.

1. Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.

I am 61 years old, married, four children and five grandchildren. I own a business buying, selling and consigning classic and muscle cars for sale. I spent most of my career in the retail Home Center industry managing multiple units and thousands of employees.

2. What is the single biggest reason you have followed an entrepreneurial path? Was there a signature event as you were growing up?

My parents were in business for themselves starting in their 40’s and I was a partner with them for a few years. After 30 years in the Home Center business I decided to start a business from a lifelong hobby.

3. Are entrepreneurs born or can it be learned?

I believe that it takes a certain personality to want to be in business for yourself and then to have the fortitude to hang in there long enough to make that business successful. Most people don’t make it past the first year if they don’t have a good business plan in place and are willing to work hard enough to see the plan come to fruition. Capitalization is extremely important.

4. What makes entrepreneurs different? What do you think are the qualities/characteristics that make entrepreneurs different?

The entrepreneurs that I see become successful are the ones who have imagination, courage, fortitude, intelligence, and have had experience in the corporate world. They are also people who like people.

5. Do entrepreneurs network differently?

Not necessarily. An entrepreneur uses his/her sphere of influence like other people do. What sets them apart is the diligence factor. What networking lessons can others learn from entrepreneurs? Just a personal note, I never miss an opportunity to “advertise” what I do in a group of people that I happen to be with. The website and the Internet are the biggest generators of new business for us. (*Note: Heh-heh, Greg thought I was a little crazy when I told him he had to have a Website ASAP to build his business. Thank goodness; he decided to give a try!)

6. What have you found to work well when networking?

The ability to “sell” myself and my business is important. I am confident about what we are able to offer our customers and confident that they are willing to tell others about us in a positive way. (Hey! When I was relocating to San Francisco from New York and needed to buy a car, I found a really sweet little Chrysler Maserati TC on the site. Uh, it’s for sale. Anyone?)

What caveats can you offer? Deliver more than you promise.

What's unique about networking from an entrepreneur's perspective? The business is yours and no one represents a business better than you. No one can sell your unique proposition like you can. You may hire very responsible and dedicated employees but they will never be as devoted to the business as you are.

Do entrepreneurs have an advantage in the networking arena? Not necessarily, but the successful ones are better at it and use all the resources at hand.

7. What is the “successful” model for a master networker?

Be hands on. Use the modern technology available i.e. the internet. “Sell” yourself before you “sell” the business.

8. What are the primary goals for most networkers?

To have your customers say great things about you and your business and to come back to you when they have similar needs in the future.

Do you feel these differ from those of an entrepreneur? With a couple of exceptions, obviously to create a business that is scalable and successful.

9. How do you help other entrepreneurs find and network with each other in your business?

Our business is a very “closed community” that speaks to others in the business all across the country. Our networking sometimes involves “sharing” inventory for sale or to help provide a “search and find” service. So, while we don’t necessarily share our customers, we share inventory and build trust within our community.

Check out the Automania site at You can reach Greg directly at 830-629-4843 or by email at

If you’re thinking about moving to San Antonio, be sure to get in touch with my cousin, Ann Jones at, 210-410-5151. And, be sure to tune in for her interview in my next column!

You may ask what I’m doing these days? Or, not. Anyway, we’re preparing to launch our new site, that will better reflect the solution we provide to SMBs to make working your business easier. Venntive = Email Marketing + CRM = Web Tracks. If you’d like to be added to our mailing list so you’ll be notified of all the exciting developments as they happen, please visit the site and provide your email address.

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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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