Scott and Jonathan Allen of Allen Automotive Group

SONY DSCScott and Jonathan Allen were born into an automotive industry family that began with their grandfather, Bert Allen, who opened his first dealerships in the 70’s. In 1987, with his son, David, by his side as General Manager, they opened Bert Allen Toyota together. David Allen finished buying out the Toyota franchise in late 90s and renamed it Allen Toyota. Then in 2002 David Allen acquired the Hyundai franchise and finally in 2004, the Scion franchise became part of the prestigious Allen group. Jonathan and Scott Allen, joined the management team with there father David Allen in 2007. That same year, Bert Allen retired and sold his dealerships Bert Allen GMC Pontiac and Mercedes Benz. This very successful family business has been thriving on the Mississippi Coast for over 40 years. Under the leadership of David Allen’s sons, the Allen Automotive Group is firmly ensconced here and continually rises above what is expected in automotive sales and service in South Mississippi. A 7 time President’s Award winner for Toyota Motor Sales USA, the Allen’s were just notified that they have won again for 2012.
Jonathan and Scott are like peas in a pod yet as different as night and day. Many people assume they are twins, which they are not. Jonathan is the eldest and they are two years apart. Everyone feels like they know Scott and Jonathan personally, the two come into our homes on a daily basis through their very familiar TV commercials, and often talk to us as we get around town during their many radio spots. They are funny and always come across as very nice fellas, all of which are true but more importantly, they know the automotive industry inside and out. They both hold degrees in Automotive Marketing and Management which they earned at Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Jonathan always knew that this would be his career path but Scott left his options open because he was not so sure as a child. “Whenever I thought about how I would make a living, it always came back to something automotive related and when I finally settled down and got serious, there was no doubt about it, I could not imagine myself doing anything else,” Scott said. They grew up in a very traditional family environment, and a home full of love. Dinner time was very important as the Allen’s always sat down and shared the meal together, talking about what happened that day and enjoying each other’s company. “That was so important and it kept us all close. I never realized how rare that really was,” Scott said.
Both Jonathan and Scott burst with pride when talking about their beloved grandfather, Bert Allen, and their recently deceased father, David. Bert graduated from Ole Miss and remains one of their biggest football fans to this day. He attended a career fair held at the college, and became acquainted with representatives of GMAC and took a job. He soon began working at a dealership and was well on his way to a very successful career in sales. Gulfport beckoned and an opportunity arose for him to own his own dealership. Scott said, “Gulf National Bank gave our grandfather a loan to start his business…and the rest is history!” Allen Automotive Group holds the distinction of being a third generation Gulf Coast business. “We are very proud to be following in our grandfather’s and father’s footsteps. They both taught us many less, but integrity is the most important and we learned that from both of them,” Scott added.
David Allen is deeply missed by his sons but his legacy will live on. He was a man who guided them with a gentle manner, and who offered the benefit of his experience without pushing or demanding they follow his lead. “We were all so much alike that it was impossible not to have the same mission and goal,” Jonathan said. They boys started working in their dad’s dealerships when they were in their early teens while on summer vacation from school. “We had very specific jobs and they were to be done well and correctly. I started sweeping the ramp that lead to the front doors and picking up trash, then we graduated to washing cars,” Jonathan said. Quite often after school, the boys would visit their father at work and hang out. They loved to spend time there, and soaked up all the sights and sounds that were going on around them. They paid very close attention and learned a great deal even though to them it was all in fun. Jonathan added, “Nothing meant more to me than being able to drive and I drove long before the law permitted me to, but only on the car lot. I could navigate around those cars like a pro!” Both Jonathan and Scott also learned about diplomacy and keeping an open line of communication with staff members and employees. “Dad always kept us on our toes, he made us think and taught us how to create solutions and focus on the task at hand. Dad always expected a lot from us and that in turn made us both strive for excellence,” Scott said.
As Jonathan and Scott matured and gained experience, they were given more responsibilities and continued to learn about the Allen family business. Next, they worked as service advisers in the Toyota shop on Pass Road in Gulfport. They wrote service tickets for repairs and oil changes and were the liaisons between the technicians and the customers. Getting the cars out in a timely manner also was their responsibility. “Service is such a huge part of our operation, we do ten times the volume in service that we do in sales,” Jonathan said. “A tech taught me the basics of maintenance as well. We worked every level position in every department. I didn’t always take it that seriously back then, but now I realize what an education it was and it gave me a great perspective of the business,” Scott said.
While attending college at the University of Mississippi, Jonathan began selling cars at Oxford Toyota. He found Oxford wasn’t the perfect fit because he could not attain the degree he was most interested in at Ole Miss. Being a car salesman in a smaller market, with no affiliation with his family’s business, was an excellent opportunity to garner more experience and a fresh perspective. Jonathan sold eight cars in his first ten days! Selling cars came very naturally and he was totally comfortable in the environment. There was no question what he would choose to do. He took a semester off and then decided to move back home and change direction. He soon joined Scott at Northwood University in Florida and everything fell perfectly into place.
Scott also started college up in Oxford, Mississippi but it was never quite the right fit for him either. Following the first semester, he made the decision that he did not belong there and chose to take a step back and reassess his options. He took a year and a half off , when he discovered Northwood University. One of the key majors offered is Automotive Marketing, exactly what Scott wanted. “It is known throughout the automotive industry as the best education you can get in order to run a dealership. All the higher-ups in the corporate sector of Toyota or Hyundai are very aware of the school,” Scott said. He started in 04 and was never happier. The following year he begged his brother to join him. Jonathan and Scott were always close but they feel that this meeting of the minds “catapulted” their relationship into a whole new realm of mutual respect and an eagerness to become business partners. “We are stronger together then when we are apart and it just works well between us,” Scott said. They credit their professors at Northwood for teaching them how to be at ease in front of the camera and how to reach their audience. They found themselves in front of classmates and later the student body on numerous occasions when presenting projects each semester. It honed their skills for public speaking and media work. “Scott is such a dynamic public speaker and he fuels me,” Jonathan said.
“The plot thickens” as Jonathan says, as they took on a major project in college that really set the tone for what the future would hold. They served as co-chairmen of the Auto Show for the Palm Beaches. What was once a conservative auto show held on campus each year, morphed into a massive event at the local convention center which became part of the South Florida Auto Dealers Association circuit of car shows that took place in West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami. “We had every major manufacturer represented and had over 75,000 people attend. We were two college kids that filled over 100,000 feet of convention space and surpassed all other Northwood auto shows in the past ten years. Everyone said we couldn’t do it but we did and it is probably the most proud moment of our lives,” Scott said.
While in South Florida, Scott and Jonathan made the rounds, taking tours of every dealership in the area with note pads in hand. They were gathering information in preparation for the planning and construction of the brand new Allen Toyota Scion that was on the drawing board. They explored the concepts used at the biggest and best dealerships with the most customer satisfaction and with the happiest employees. “It was like a field trip. Every weekend we would hit multiple dealerships in a row. We took lots of pictures and talked to all the managers and staff we encountered, asked a million questions and took books full of notes. When the time came to begin serious steps to build our new location…we were ready,” Jonathan said. It took ten years for the dream to become reality. The beautiful, brand new, state-of-the art store and car lot sits on several parcels of land. It was a long and arduous task to purchase each piece and then assemble them to fit the desired specifications. “I spent the entire year of 08 as project manager of building the new Toyota facility. I could even tell you where every outlet was going to go before it was built! Jonathan and I spent hours each day discussing every nuance of every inch of the building and every part of the business and how we could best serve our employees and our customers. It was great fun to see it all come together,” Scott said.
Following graduation in 2007, the brothers came back to the Coast, ready and eager to preside over the Allen Automotive Group. Scott runs Allen Hyundai on Pass Road, Gulfport and Jonathan is the general manager of Allen Toyota which is located just off the interstate on Helen Richards Drive. The Allen Automotive Group employs 87 people. They are extremely friendly and knowledgeable. The staff are passionate about the cars they sell and the work they do. Jonathan and Scott can be found on property every day of the week, always happy to be of assistance and to make sure you in the right car at a great price. They arrive each morning by 9:00 and hold sales meetings to “rally their troops.” The enthusiasm and passion is infectious, and sets the tone for the entire day. “This is a business where you must be in tune with everything that is going on, the job changes on a dime and you must be ready to meet whatever challenges arise,” Jonathan said. Scott likes to do a walk through, checking in with each department to see what is scheduled for the day so he is familiar with what is going on. They each run a tight ship but genuinely care about the people who work for them. They put in long hours but are happy to do so.
Time off is reserved for hobbies, favorite people and relaxation. Scott loves salt water aquariums, particularly collecting rare coral. He recently owned a 210 gallon salt water aquarium that was filled with spectacular coral that he tended and nurtured for many years. Jonathan loves to play golf and pilot his boat on the back bay. He also has quite the green thumb and can grow just about anything! Marriage is right around the corner for Jonathan, his bride-to-be is Nicolle Chubb, and for the past year they have been planning their wedding which will take place this month! Scott is also recently engaged, and will marry the love of his life, Andria Palmero, next spring. They just bought a new house on the Tchoutacabouffa River!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s