The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce has named Rex Perry Autoplex as the 2014 Large Business of the Year – one of three Gary Justice Business Excellence Awards presented annually. The business owners and employees will be recognized at the chamber’s 93rd Annual Meeting and Membership Banquet, Tuesday, Sept. 30, beginning at 6 p.m. in the SFA Grand Ballroom.
Growing up in the business, becoming a part of the heart of the business, gave Rex Perry the start that he “wouldn’t trade for anything.” He started as a kid changing oil, washing cars, working in the service and parts departments and moving to sales when he was around 17.
The family’s car dealership business began with Rex’s grandfather Will Kendrick and uncle Bill Kendrick at Kendrick Chrysler Plymouth located at 201 North St. across from the Mize Department store. The dealership moved through the hands of the family with mom Betty Kendrick Perry running the office. Rex’s dad Mike Perry joined and did well in the business, and Rex recalled some of his “fondest memories of growing up” in the family business.
“My dad and I would ride out to appraise a car, and we’d study the book and he would write on his hand with an ink pen what he thought it was worth. Then, I’d have to tell him what I thought,” Rex said. “As time went by and I learned, we got closer and closer to what we thought about the value of a car. Of course, I’d jokingly tell him he was getting pretty good at this, because his number was getting closer to mine.”
In August 1996, Betty, Mike and Rex went in to a partnership with a Cadillac and GMC dealership at 222 South St. Rex gives credit to his parents for helping start that business, and help from brother Hunter who later went on to run a GM dealership in San Augustine. Rex stayed at the South St. location until 2007 when the construction finished and Rex Perry Autoplex moved to the northwest loop. During that time in December 2004, Rex purchased a Pontiac, Buick, Hyundai and Jeep dealership.
“Jeep ended up at the Dodge Chrysler lot,” Rex said. “The Pontiac line didn’t survive GM’s brand realignment, but I got really lucky by picking up Buick and the Hyundai franchise.”
In August 2007, when Rex brought it all together at the new facility, he ended up with an empty property at 4017 North St. So in 2010, he invested in the Polaris and can-am ATV lines, added Mahindra tractors and equipment, and along came T-REX-S Outdoor Store.
Over the years, Rex has seen success with selling cars, and attributes that success to a combination of taking care of the customer and keeping in mind that “while you have to make a little money to stay in business, profit is really just a by-product of doing business the right way.” He is grateful that his investments in things that keep his business going – such as expanding service areas when needed or meeting new technology demands – have paid off for him and the customer.
Keeping good relationships with the Autoplex employees is just as important to Rex. Handing out paychecks personally and giving a sincere thanks to all are what he considers a key to success, because “there are easy ways to mess up a dealership” and he trusts his staff to watch and give input on the status of inventory, parts and finance.
The newest investment in Rex Perry Autoplex will be visible to everyone passing by the dealership. Work started earlier this year on a major remodel supported by General Motors to the original building. The cost of the remodel is offset by Rex agreeing to criteria set up by GM that includes keeping a certified internet manager, certified technicians, well-trained sales and service staff and a good customer satisfaction rating. All these form what Rex considers “a good program with good business practices.”
He also believes the remodel will be a good addition to Nacogdoches. He values the relationship that exists between business and the community.
“You strive to have a better business, because the people you sell to you’ll see in church, at restaurants and at the baseball fields,” he said. “I have to be committed to have a good service department and have good prices and make good deals. If I drop the ball I may not be able to go out and eat!” His customers become friends and friends become customers, and Rex appreciates that as a unique characteristic that goes along with doing business in Nacogdoches.
“Rex has an incredibly positive economic impact on Nacogdoches and the surrounding area, but he is much more than just a business man,” said Chris Oglesbee, executive vice president at BancorpSouth. ” He has a giving heart and does so much for the Nacogdoches area, both financially and otherwise, and he does so not expecting any recognition.
“He has provided cars as prizes benefitting the Nacogdoches County United Way, for hole in one contests and other donations for numerous benefit golf tournaments for entities such as the Boys and Girls Club and Nacogdoches Jaycees. He has given back monetarily and in man hours to many religious organizations, schools and other worthy causes.”
Oglesbee recently had the honor of presenting Rex with the Paul Harris Fellow Award through Rotary. “That is a tremendous honor, and it is an award that is rarely given and is used to recognize those who go above and beyond in service to humanity,” Oglesbee said.
Recent past recipients of the Gary Justice Business Excellence Awards – Large Business of the Year sponsored by R & K Distributors, Inc. are:
2013 Drewery Construction, Inc.
2012 Hotel Fredonia
2011 Tipton Ford
2010 J.E. Kingham Construction Company
2009 NIBCO, Inc.