Member Spotlight on Mark Kelley: A Technoid of All Things Mercedes

 

“I’ve been obsessed with Mercedes practically my whole life,” says Mark Kelley. “And I never imagined as a kid that I’d be doing this for a living.”

“This” is his gig as a Product Specialist with Park Place Motorcars Dallas. In a nutshell, his job is to familiarize himself with all the ins and outs of every Mercedes product – no small task, given the company’s expansive portfolio – then share that knowledge with clients who might have questions about their model’s advanced technology and performance.

He also shares his expertise with team members to help them understand a particular vehicle’s features and functions. In some cases, that might mean diagnosing and explaining an electronic application – a nav system or alarm feature, perhaps – that eliminates the need for a service drop-off.

“Sometimes we can solve an issue right in the service driveway without having to take the vehicle in,” he says. “Saves a lot of time.”

He joined the dealership just a year ago as part of the concierge team. But his infatuation with learning all things Mercedes quickly led to his current role, which also includes actively posting (along with his buddy Joni Tsosie) for the store on social media.

“She’s everything a good co-worker is supposed to be,” he says. “Super-kind, always has new and original ideas. We complement each other well and I think we’re a really good team.”

He recalls his first days at the store with unbridled enthusiasm. “On my first day, I was handed the keys to an AMG GT 63 S for a client delivery and was thunderstruck. This environment is just a dream for a car nut like me. It’ll never, ever get old.”

Recounting his fascination with cars, the southeast Kentucky native admits that when he was younger, Corvettes and the Italian breeds were his thing. But even then, he always admired the style, power, luxury and storied history of Mercedes.

Then he got to ride in the legendary SLK55 AMG, with its hand-built 5.5-liter V-8 cranking an impressive 415 hp, mated with the silky-smooth seven-speed automatic transmission.

And that, as they say, was that. “To say that my impression was lasting is a huge understatement,” he laughs. “It’s been Mercedes, Mercedes, Mercedes, ever since.”

As to the thorny issue (for car nuts, at least) of what his favorite Mercedes product is, Kelley pauses, then whistles. “That’s really difficult, but I’d have to say the Maybach. The execution, the tech, the luxury, the performance – it has no flaws. It’s perfection.”

In his spare time, Kelley’s a fancier of anything outdoor-sports related, such as hiking and playing disc golf, a game that involves Frisbees instead of the traditional clubs and little white ball. The degree of difficulty, however, is similarly frustrating. “I try,” he says with a sigh.

One thing he misses from Kentucky – homestyle chicken and dumplings. “I’ll get a hankering, but nobody knows how to do it in Texas. I’m still looking, though.”

He also says he’s into all kinds of music. “Country, pop, and a lot of the stuff from the early 2000s, like Britney, NSYNC, Destiny’s Child, TLC and Backstreet Boys. “Kind of weird, but I like it,” he grins. At the moment, he’s into “Midnight Sky,” the latest single from Miley Cyrus’ upcoming album. 

Hey, bet she sounds really good coming through the 26 speakers of the Maybach’s Burmester® High-End 3D Surround Sound system.

“I’ll let you know,” he chuckles.

Member Spotlight on Kara Connor: The Epitome of Exceptional

Kara Connor can be forgiven if, every once in a while, she sounds a bit out of breath. “I just got asked to run downstairs and help someone with …”  (Fill in the blank with any of the hundreds of business activities at bustling Park Place Motorcars Arlington.)

She’s what’s known as a “multipotentialite,” which is a multisyllabic mouthful that describes someone with particularly strong intellectual or artistic curiosity who displays aptitudes across multiple disciplines.

To her credit, she cracks up at the lofty description, then dismisses it with an always-ready smile. “We’re a team, and we all pitch in when we can,” she says. “It’s just the way we’re wired.”

The Mansfield, Texas, native seems to pop up all over the place – greeting clients at the welcome desk, running down a service question, fielding calls and emails from local media, as well as other sundry and myriad daily activities. All that’s in addition to her official duties as General Manager Malcolm Gage’s Administrative Assistant and Mercedes Benz Certification Program Coordinator.

“Kara is truly an asset and an integral part of the Motorcars Arlington team,” says Gage. “Her positivity and accommodating attitude toward our members, and her dedication to the dealership’s community marketing and presence, proves that she is truly the epitome of Park Place core values.”

The gregarious Connor graduated from Texas Tech with a degree in (not surprising) Public Relations, and remains a staunch Red Raider fan. After graduation and a brief stint with the marketing team at a commercial construction company, she got wind of an opportunity at Park Place, wangled an interview and (also not surprising) was hired immediately.

“That was 13 years ago,” she marvels. “I served as a marketing coordinator for eight years, mainly handling community relations and dealer events but also anything that sailed over the transom. It’s a great team. In fact, the person who now heads up Park Place marketing, Anam Ali, was my intern! We talk all the time! It’s cool to see how far she’s come and deservedly so.”  

Five years ago, her growing family (she and her husband Tim have two equally super-active kids, 10-year-old Cade and six-year-old Quinn) prompted her to reassess her schedule, which often included late-night promotional events. Aware that the then-new Arlington location would be seeking qualified people, she was emboldened to request a lateral transfer in order to take advantage of the location’s proximity to home and hearth.

“That’s yet another great thing about Park Place,” she says. “The family-first concept is a paramount priority. So when the opportunity arose to make a change, everyone was encouraging, positive and happy to help.”

The switch allowed her to direct more energy to her family’s life – she’s president of her school’s PTA – while still doing the work she loves for Park Place.

As an example, she worked with the Park Place marketing team to create a “Summer Road Trip” video series with Gage as host. Her behind-the-scenes energy is apparent.

In her rare spare time, she’s a big reader and admits to liking “chick flicks” as well as thrillers. She’s also a fan of social media but tries to limit its use at home. “It’s really easy to go down that rabbit hole for hours,” she says. “But it’s important to show kids that you don’t need to be on a device all the time. Even in these times, personal interaction is paramount.”

The same is true of how she approaches her job. “The people and the relationships I’ve made throughout the years gives me a real sense of satisfaction and fulfillment,” she says. “Our standards of integrity, a passion for people, owning it and grit aren’t just words on a poster,” she says. “I agree with them and try to live by them, because I think they’ll take you far. The sense of team, family priority, belonging and contributing – they’re all here and it’s just wonderful. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

Member Spotlight on Travis Tittle: It’s a Family Affair

It’s been said, usually tongue-in-cheek, that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. But in the case of Colleyville native Travis Tittle, his friends ARE his family. And as an added bonus- his coworkers too!

“My step-dad and younger brother both work here,” he beams. “Dad’s a team lead and Joseph is in the parts department. “Practically every day when we get back from lunch, we hang out. It’s great.”

Tittle graduated Colleyville Heritage High School (Go Panthers) and spent a few semesters at Fort Lewis College (Go Skyhawks) amid the magnificence of Durango, Colorado. He came back home and immediately entered the automotive industry, serving in a variety of roles at several dealerships before signing on to join the parts department at Park Place Lexus Grapevine in 2004. He worked his way up from the warehouse to back-counter, then front counter, then Assistant Service Manager, and then began his current role as Service Manager seven years ago. It’s a high-velocity role and he relishes every second of it.

“I’m one of two service managers here and on average, we see about 150 vehicles a day,” he says. “Basically, my job is to make sure each of those clients is well taken care of, and to help move the vehicles through the shop. It never stops, really, and that’s what makes this job so much fun.”

The role occasionally offers other “amusements,” such as rescuing hidden kittens and other assorted wildlife. But the topper has to be when a tech opened a hood to examine what was initially suspected to be rodent damage.

“Normally, our shop functions like a well-oiled machine,” he says now, chuckling at the memory. “But we spent about 30 minutes trying to fish out a five-foot-long snake, and it seemed like the whole shop was freaking out a little. It was probably the most intense half-hour we’ve all ever spent at work.”

The snake was rescued, uninjured, and taken to a local creek to join his friends, much to the relief of the service team and, presumably, the snake.

Other moments, however, are much more serious, such as the time when Tittle and several co-workers were driving to Austin and by sheer coincidence, witnessed a severe collision involving a Park Place Lexus client.

Lexususa shared the story on their isntagram in November of 2019:

How do you make a customer feel like a guest? Lexus owner Joyce Lee was involved in a head-on collision on I-35 in Fort Worth, TX that totaled her Lexus. Greg Duerr, Rod Moreno and Travis Tittle of Park Place Lexus were nearby and helped Joyce to safety inside their own vehicle. They then aided as witnesses to the accident. As Joyce put it in her letter to the dealership, “These outstanding men took Park Place’s above-and-beyond reputation to a higher level, in that they stopped to help render aid to me after my head-on collision.” The hospitality and empathy of Lexus dealers and their employees extends beyond the dealership.

“That was really frightening,” says Tittle. “I’m just glad we were there and could help.”

He says the episode speaks to the Park Place culture as a place of camaraderie unlike anywhere else.

“We all get along extraordinarily well,” he says. “In fact, we hang out with each other after work. And in my case, since I’ve been here so long, our kids are also hanging out with each other, too. That’s very rewarding.”

In his spare time, you can find him and his wife, Vanessa, chasing after their two extremely active kids – three-and-a-half-year-old Trenton and one-and-a-half-year-old Tessa, at their Colleyville home. “I met Vanessa in middle school and I guess you could say it was love at first sight,” he confesses.

He also enjoys pursuing mostly outdoor activities – golf, hiking, sports of all kinds. “I grew up playing a lot of soccer and hockey, so if it’s physical, yeah, I’m trying to do it.”

He acknowledges that in terms of his direct, all-business demeanor, he might initially come off as a little brusque. “But really, I’m nicer than I initially seem to be,” he laughs. “When people first meet me, they think I’m sort of mean. But once they work with me for ten years or so, I’ll lighten up … a little bit!”

Member Spotlight: Park’s Place’s Very Own Joni Tsosie is a Multi-Tasking Marvel and Jack of All Trades

As bubbly as her favorite beverage – Champagne – Joni Tsosie is nevertheless a study in contrasts. Case in point: She’s as comfortable behind the wheel of a low-slung, high-performance Mercedes AMG GT as she is pushing a Boeing 757 from the gate with a lug tractor.

And yes, she’s actually done that. 

“Quite often, in fact,” she laughs, waving her hand in the air dismissively, as if hauling around a 240,000-pound airliner is just another part of an average day. “I worked United Airlines gates for three years and we were well-trained to handle everything – passenger check-ins, ticket counter, re-books, ramp service, stacking luggage and yes, aircraft push and pullbacks. I nearly froze when it snowed!”

She came in from the cold when, in 2006, United transferred her from her hometown of Salt Lake City to DFW. Airline hours being what they are (or were), she had the flexibility to accept a part-time greeter gig with Park Place at the Smart Car Center. And then along came the 2008 recession, and airlines everywhere started laying people off, Joni included.

“I debated moving back to Utah but hadn’t said anything to anyone,” she recalls. “And that exact same week, Park Place offered me a full-time job and I thought that I’d try it out and if I wasn’t happy, I’d just move back. But I’ve been happy ever since, and it’s been an amazing job. So getting laid off was a very good thing.”

In her current role as New Car Executive Administrator, the whole study-in-contrast thing arises again. The always-stylish, ever-smiling, super-chill Joni is an absolute demon when it comes to banishing the devil in paperwork details. She inputs data every time a vehicle is sold, registering each sale with Mercedes Benz USA, double-checking to make sure all incentives and rebates are accounted for, as well as scheduling weekly training sessions for her team. And if something’s amiss, she does the research to find out what, why, and how to fix it.

“I guess I’ve always had an eye for detail,” she admits. “Plus, working at an airline teaches you time management, and that every single person needs to be on their game to work together as a team. That’s very much what it’s like here, and really speaks to the whole Park Place culture of creating exceptional experiences for both members and clients alike. Our team is second-to none.”

One of the best parts of her job is posting social media about the dealership, the members, the clients and the vehicles. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to share how we feel about our store, and bring the love and loyalty and amazing experiences to everyone,” she says. “I love being able to showcase what makes us different and special. It really makes me happy to bring that feeling to others, especially with my family so far away. This is my family here, too. I truly want the best for them and for the dealership. It really feels like home so I’m protective and proud and want everyone to be happy.”

The current pandemic has curtailed many of Joni’s favorite activities, such as in-store shopping for the latest fashions, attending concerts, traveling with long-time friends – she’s been to Miami, LA, Mexico and Greece, among other hot-spot destinations, with long-time friends from elementary school. “One of my best friends is from fourth grade,” she chuckles. “I keep friendships for a long time and we all love traveling together.”

Like many of us these days, she keeps in touch with friends and her large family (seven siblings and 22 nieces and nephews) via Zoom. And with concerts on pause right now, she enjoys listening to some of her favorite performers such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Chris Brown and Kendrick Lamar. “It’s not like seeing them on stage but it’ll have to do for now,” she says.

What she really, really misses, though, is … “BRUNCH! I love, love, love brunch. That’s my one true talent!”

She also longs for the return of nearby Shinsei, a world-class sushi restaurant where the hip neighborhood vibe is all about relaxed, fun elegance.

Come to think of it, that’s also a suitably accurate portrayal of Joni. And there’s no study in contrast about that description at all.

Member Spotlight: Daniel Conklin Finds His ‘Home Sweet Home’ at Park Place

Some people have just got it – and by “it,” we mean “IT,” that indefinable, “je ne sais quoi” star quality. Maybe it’s the smile that lights up their eyes as well as their face. Or the easy yet confident way they carry themselves. Or their style. Whatever it is, some got it and some don’t.

Daniel Conklin’s got it. Not that he’d ever admit it, of course.

“I’m just a small-town farm kid from Caddo Mills, Texas,” he laughs, something he does easily and often. “I graduated from Greenville High School, got a partial scholarship through cheerleading to Texas Tech, endured the West Texas dust storms for my B.A in business management and was lucky to get a job at J.P. Morgan Chase where I’d interned. I was very grateful.”

No doubt the same can be said of the people who hired him, as he quickly made himself indispensable for nearly four years until larger forces, namely the mortgage crisis of 2008-09, forced mass industry layoffs. He tried out a gig as an investment business banker for a while, then was tapped for a recruiter role at GEICO that kick-started his interest in all things HR (Human Resources). Park Place reached out to him in 2014 with an HR Generalist role and, as he says, “the happy journey began.”

“Park Place didn’t really have a talent acquisition function back then,” he says, “and leadership entrusted me to build and lead the department from scratch, which was a huge honor.”

As happens in recruiting, however, connections and offers abound, so after four years of recruiting for Motorcars Dallas and Park Place corporate, he left for another opportunity. “Hardest decision I’ve ever made,” he says now. Fortunately for Park Place, after a short year, he jumped right back in and has been a hard-charging HR star ever since.

“I loved the new job but really missed Park Place, which is what I consider my home insofar as my career,” he says. “We really have some wonderful, amazing people and such a great organization – especially Robert Morris and Patrick Huston and their teams.” (Robert is General Manager of Motorcars Dallas: Patrick is GM of Porsche Dallas.)

He also proudly lists the certifications of SPHR and sHRBP on his resume. SPHR stands for Senior Professional in Human Resources®, a rigorous accreditation from HRCI®, the HR industry’s premier credentialing organization for more than 40 years. sHRBP stands for Strategic HR Business Partner and comes from HCI, Human Capital Institute, a research-based learning solutions company for human resource and talent management professionals. And that’s on top of the MBA in Human Resources Management he earned from Trinity University of San Antonio earlier this year.

“Maybe it’s the cheerleader in me,” he grins, “but I’ve always wanted to stand out, to always be the most qualified in whatever I do. These are demanding programs and I was the first HR person at Park Place to receive the accreditations, so I’m pretty happy about that.”

He even finds time in his crowded schedule for hobbies, such as his dedication to cooking and baking – you can find examples of his handiwork at www.definitelybydaniel.com, which includes mouthwatering recipes for barbecue ribs, clam chowder, banana nut bread and even limoncello.

Somewhere with all this going on, he also managed to find time to get married two years ago, and he and his husband Spencer just welcomed a son, Carter Ian Conklin, on July 14.

Lately, Daniel has been busy decorating their son’s nursery with thousands – literally thousands – of Winnie the Pooh-themed balloons. “Might have been a bit more ambitious that I thought,” he chuckles. 

Ambition is a characteristic – just maybe it’s that “IT” quality – that Daniel seems to be blessed with in abundance. But he points with genuine humility to another source. 

“My father is a Baptist bishop and I was raised in the church to believe in a higher power,” he says matter-of-factly. “I truly believe if you exude good vibes and karma, you’ll receive it back in kind. Thinking positively, and having faith in the things you want in your life, will ensure that they’ll come to pass.”

Teacher Appreciation is Personal at Park Place

It’s a small world, after all.

 


Connectivity between people pops up in the most unlikely places. Like on the service drive at Park Place Lexus Plano. That’s where two fellow team members, who didn’t know each other from Adam, first discovered that they shared a surprisingly meaningful connection- and no, it wasn’t that they both worked at Park Place.

It All Started with a Vowel (read more to see “Y”)

 

One sunny morning back in 2013, Brandon Gillespy, body shop manager at Park Place BodyWerks, was at the service drive at Park Place Lexus Plano, picking up a client vehicle for transport to the body shop in Dallas.

“This guy comes over to me, big smile, introduces himself and asks if I’m related to Jamie Gillespy,” Brandon recalls.

The guy was Don Mitchell, sales experience manager at Lexus Plano. The unusual spelling of Brandon’s last name, with a “y” instead of an “ie,” caught Don’s eye.

“My daughter Meredith was always raving about a wonderful teacher at Plano’s Jasper High School named Jamie Gillespy,” Don explains. “Jamie taught an elective course in ASL, or American Sign language, and Meredith absolutely adored Jamie and I remembered the unique spelling. So Brandon and I both remarked on what a small world it was.”

In most cases, a random coincidence like that results in a pleasant conversation and that’s the end of it.

But then something else happened. Two somethings, in fact.

Jamie-Mania

First, Brandon became increasingly aware that his wife was starting to enjoy a kind of Jamie-mania.

“Since that moment, it seems like anywhere we go, a store or a restaurant in Frisco or Plano, we hear someone yell, “MISS G!” And then a former student runs across the room to give my wife a giant hug. Don’s story first opened my eyes to this phenomenon, and since then it’s been nonstop. And a lot of fun for both of us!”


Jamie Gillespy, ASL teacher at Frisco Centennial High School with husband, Brandon Gillespy, Body Shop Manager at Park Place BodyWerks

Second, Jamie’s impact on Meredith carried on well past the classroom into adulthood. After graduating from Plano Senior High, she went on to earn an education degree at the University of Arkansas and is, in fact, now a teacher at a Title 1 school in Springdale, Arkansas.

Don Mitchell, Sales Experience Manager at Lexus Plano with daughter and teacher Meredith.

“Meredith was already starting to show a passion for teaching, and Jamie really reinforced a lot of the values that made teaching a compelling career choice,” says Don. “My mother was a teacher, and just like Jamie, her example had life-lasting positive impacts on her students, too. Meredith is that same kind of person, that same kind of teacher.”

Don Mitchell, Sales Experience Manager at Lexus Plano with daughter and teacher Meredith.

“I felt inspired to learn how much my wife meant to Don’s daughter,” says Brandon, noting that Jamie is now the ASL teacher at Frisco Centennial High School as well as Student Council Sponsor. He’s especially proud that the school created a video about what her days are like during this time of uncertainty. Check it out.

Park Place Cares

Don and Brandon’s story alludes to just one of the reasons why Park Place has been such a passionate supporter of education over the past 30+ years. After discovering their small-world connection and shared values, these two members are even more gratified that their chosen place of work, Park Place, actively supports education as a corporate initiative, sponsoring the Teacher of the Year program in nine local school districts. The company is also active in the Plano ISD Education Foundation’s Grants to Educators program.

“I was amazed when I first learned of the connection between Don and Brandon, as well as Jamie and Meredith,” says Anam Ali-Hashambhai, Experiential Marketing Manager at Park Place.

“It really brought home to me that the Park Place commitment to education is all about connecting people, ideas, inspiration and creativity. These kinds of connections are out there, and makes our Teacher of the Year sponsorship even that more special and personal.”

Thank You, Thank You

“I was honored to attend a ‘Teacher of the Year’ event where I represented Park Place, says Don. “But I was even more honored and proud to be the parent of a teacher.”

“Showing educators that they’re valued is outstanding,” adds Brandon. “I’m really glad that Park Place is willing to show this kind of commitment. Especially since I married into a family of teachers. Jamie’s mother, aunt and grandmother are all or were teachers. It’s important that we honor teachers for the lifelong impact they have on their students.”


So has this connection also spawned a friendship between Don and Brandon?

“Oh yeah,” smiles Brandon. “We’re good pals.”

“Who do you think sold Jamie her Lexus?” teases Don.

And it all started with a “y” instead of an “ie.”

The power of vowels, indeed.

 

More Park Place #TeacherAppreciation Stories

 

 

 

 

 

Carter BloodCare and Park Place Dealerships Team Up to Potentially Save 339 Lives Through Blood Drive

Carter BloodCare says their ability to provide blood to hospitals for urgent transfusion needs of patients has been in severe jeopardy. Recently, Carter BloodCare and Park Place Dealerships came together for a blood drive that has potentially made the difference in 339 lives. 

Members from Park Place Motorcars in Arlington Participate in the #ParkPlaceCares Blood Drive

“The members at Park Place Dealerships are extremely generous with their time and resources, including their blood,” noted Dave Evans, Chief Marketing Officer for Park Place Dealerships. “We asked members if they would like to participate in this event and we had an overwhelming response. We were happy to know this event made the difference for people in need.”

Members from Park Place Motorcars in Arlington Participate in the #ParkPlaceCares Blood Drive
Members from Park Place Motorcars in Arlington Participate in the #ParkPlaceCares Blood Drive
Members from Park Place Volvo Participate in the #ParkPlaceCares Blood Drive

Park Place Dealerships hosted the blood drive over two days at seven locations with 114 donors and 113 units collected equating to about 339 lives saved. Park Place encourages more Dallas/Fort Worth companies to organize blood drives throughout the summer, especially during the period of critical need.

Park Place Porsche General Manager, Patrick Huston, leads the charge to donate blood during the #ParkPlaceCares Blood Drive
Members from Park Place in Dallas Participate in the #ParkPlaceCares Blood Drive

IMPORTANCE OF A BLOOD DRIVE

The pandemic’s impact on the blood supply has been profound and sudden. Blood drives were cancelled after businesses, school, universities and houses of worship shut down. Giving blood is essential with or without the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blood donors are the only way to provide for transfusions because blood cannot be manufactured. Since the state of Texas has reopened, hospitals are trying to resume a full capacity of medical and surgical services. Six hundred to 800 patients a day require transfusions.

SIGN-UP WITH CARTER BLOODCARE

Companies and the community can get more information or sign up to give blood at carterbloodcare.org.


Park Place Dealerships was founded in 1987 by Ken Schnitzer with a single Mercedes-Benz dealership in Dallas. For the past 33 years, the company has been engaged in the community supporting the arts, medical research, children’s advocacy and education. Park Place employs more than 1,500 members and operates 18 full-service dealerships representing luxury brands Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Koenigsegg, Rolls-Royce, Bentley, McLaren, Maserati and Aston Martin. For more info, visit parkplace.com.

 

 

 

Member Spotlight: Dreams Changed for Malcolm Gage as Doors Opened for New Opportunities

Malcolm Gage Enrolled in Pre-Med Courses at SMU until a Part-Time Job Led Him Down a Different Road

Malcolm R. Gage Jr., current General Manager at Park Place Motorcars Arlington, never envisioned a career in the automotive industry. In fact, he was in a Pre-Med program at Southern Methodist University in 1997 when his college roommate suggested he could get Malcolm a job at a Lewisville Ford dealership during his college break.

“My friend thought my quick wit and personality would be a good fit,” recalled Gage. “Reluctantly, I took his advice, and they hired me the same day I interviewed. I fell in love with the job, and changed my focus to a career in the automotive industry. Now, 23 years later, I know it was the right decision.”

A Journey to Automotive

In 2005, Gage joined Park Place Dealerships as New Car Sales Manager at Park Place Motorcars Bedford, which is now located in Grapevine. Gage quickly rose up the ranks at Park Place, where he spent the past five years as New Car Sales Director at the Park Place Premier Collection in Dallas, representing luxury brands Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Maserati, and McLaren. He was recently named General Manager at Park Place Motorcars Arlington.

“The automotive business is unlike any other,” said Gage. “I’ve made some amazing contacts, and it’s given me opportunities I never could’ve imagined. Having the opportunity to work in state-of-the-art facilities with world-class brands, and interacting with professionals of the highest caliber, one cannot put a value on that. I consider myself blessed to have reached this point, but I credit a lot of mentors and managers that have supported me and given me guidance to reach this point.”

Rolls-Royce Sales Manager of the Year, Coach of the Year, and SMU Alum

Some of his greatest accomplishments are being named Coach of the Year from two different Park Place dealerships, and being part of teams that were recognized as Dealerships of the Year, both nationally and internationally. Gage was also named the first-ever Rolls-Royce Sales Manager of the Year by Rolls-Royce Motorcars North America.

“As leaders of this organization, we try to predict future trends based on metrics and the past,” explained Gage. “But there are so many external factors that can affect it at any moment. Hiring and retaining the best talent is a challenge, but we pride ourselves on our industry-leading retention rates. I think the biggest challenge is probably the pressure we put on ourselves to exceed expectations.”

Gage graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, and he is still involved with the SMU Alumni Association. He is an Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Lifetime Member, and he volunteers with Equality Texas, the Human Rights Campaign, the Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce, and several other organizations.

“I’m involved with these organizations to give back to the Dallas/Fort Worth community that has given so much to me. Much of my success in this industry has been from networking and forming relationships with business and civic leaders in the area. I’ve always believed in dedicating time to serve others.”

Featured on the Food Network, Too!

Food Network fans may remember Malcolm Gage and Ophelia’s New Soul co-owner Cordey Lash as winners of the acclaimed TV show’s Food Court Wars. Formerly located in Plano’s Collin Creek Mall Food Court, Ophelia’s New Soul launched in 2014 and specialized in modern interpretations of classic soul food dishes served in a fast, yet relaxed, atmosphere.

“We have been approached by fans of the restaurant asking if we were going to open a new location,” Gage explains. “But I think my time in the restaurant industry has passed. We achieved great success and national recognition with Ophelia’s New Soul, and it allowed us to create a franchising plan for someone who might want to continue the brand. Who knows what the future holds? It’s still a treat to see the episode on Food Network at times.”


Park Place Motorcars Arlington is located at 4201 Beltway Place off I-20 at S. Center Street. Founded in 1987 with a single Mercedes-Benz dealership on Oak Lawn in Dallas, Park Place Dealerships also represents luxury brands Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Maserati, McLaren, Koenigsegg, Lexus, Porsche, Volvo, Jaguar and Land Rover. For more information, visit parkplace.com.

 

Member Spotlight: Alycia Johnson, Business Improvement Manager, Park Place Porsche Dallas

Spend two minutes chatting with Alycia Johnson and one thing becomes abundantly clear – her cheerful determination to do the right things right.

As Business Improvement Manager for Park Place Porsche Dallas, determination comes with the territory. The cheerfulness comes from the heart.

“I love training people,” she says while explaining the role of a business improvement manager. “I mentor, coach and train new hires, and make sure their desktops and logins are ready to go on day one. I also make sure that our long-time members are using all the tools and techniques of our various systems and software programs to best advantage. If I do my job well, then they do their jobs well, and our business thrives. It’s that simple.”

She may call it simple, but there’s a complex set of procedures behind what Alycia does so well. Preparation is the key, and she sets a blistering pace for herself when it comes to exceeding expectations. “I worry about the details so nobody else has to,” she declares.

Welcome to Dallas

The Okinawa-born Johnson arrived in Dallas at an early age and attended W.T. White, R.L. Turner and Brookhaven College before accepting a job with aircraft leasing pioneer Flexjet. She served first as flight coordinator and then customer account manager and, after more than a decade, transferred her expertise to a successful sales role at a local dealership in 2016.  

At the persistent urging of several friends who already worked at Park Place, she joined Porsche Dallas in July 2018 as a Sales Experience Manager, then moved to her current role on September 2019. “I got to Park Place as fast as I could,” she laughs.

In Her Spare Time

In her spare time, she says she hangs out with pals and indulges in creative handcrafts – as a grandmother-to-be, she assembled a Star Wars-inspired diaper cake for a recent baby shower. “I can’t believe I’m going to be a grandmother,” she enthuses. “This is so exciting!” (Editor’s Note: at the time of posting, we are happy to report that Alycia is a  proud Grandmother!)

She also admits a weakness for footwear, confessing that she owns around 200 pairs of shoes. “Macy’s loves me,” she says with a mock groan. 

She also admits to a fondness for rom-com movies like “The Ugly Truth” and “The Perfect Man,” and her musical tastes run to Prince and Michael Jackson.

But what really gets her jazzed is Taco Tuesday. “I love Tex-Mex food. Tacos every day as far as I’m concerned!”

Her outlook on life is practical and courageous. “We all have personal struggles,” she says. “It’s important to always look at the positive side. Everything happens for a reason – the good, the bad, and the ugly, but it always passes and, in the end, makes us stronger.”


Visit our team at Porsche Dallas in-store or online at ParkPlace.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Member Spotlight Featuring Diki Terry: A Rare Bird Takes Flight

Diki Terry spreads cheer, optimism and professionalism at Park Place Motorcars Arlington


She’s that rarest of North Texas birds – an actual Arlington native!

“Born and raised right here,” says Diki Terry with an easy laugh. “I graduated James Martin High School, which is only 15 minutes west. Go Warriors!”

And while she’s still a proud supporter of the school’s black, red, and silver, she’s unabashed about her dedication to Park Place Motorcars Arlington, where she’s served as Parts Director since October 2015.

“The pace can be quite hectic at times,” she freely admits. “The key is focus. Our clients need us at the top of our game every day.”

She’s a firm believer in the power of teamwork and doesn’t miss a chance to praise the six members of her busy team. “Our team works extremely well together and we get along really well together, too,” she says. “When you’re responsible for selling, tracking and replenishing inventory, for a huge variety of vehicle models and years, things can get pretty complicated fairly quickly. But our team gets it done!”

Diki holds brief (15-minute) “tune-up” meetings every morning with her staff so they can identify challenges and solutions. “I believe in the power of team communications and being open and up-front,” she says. “You can only control what you can control, so we take it one day at a time and focus on what needs to get done.”

She came to the world of automotive parts service after stints at another local dealership where, after serving as a receptionist, her office manager approached her with an opportunity – parts administrative assistant.

She accepted and thrived in the fast-paced environment. “I was like a sponge, absorbing all the action,” she says with typical enthusiasm. “I especially liked being a backup service dispatcher, it was a blast!”

She’s also typically frank about her experience as a woman in a traditionally male role.

“This was back in the late 1990s when it was sort of weird to see a girl at the parts counter,” she says. “But once clients have confidence you know what you’re doing, it’s all systems go and really not a big deal at all.”

Her Park Place Journey

She joined Park Place Motorcars Fort Worth in 2005 as a Parts Advisor and moved up to Assistant Parts Manager in 2007. Her sunny outlook and positive attitude garnered management attention and ultimately led to her current role. She keeps her team enthused with shared book studies about practical tools to enhance culture, communication, and performance.

“We’ve studied Jon Gordon’s ‘Power of a Positive Team’ and ‘Who Moved My Cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson,” she says. “Right now, we’re on ‘The Mamba Mentality’ by Kobe Bryant and it’s great,” she adds.

In Her Spare Time

In her spare time, she gathers strength from her faith and her family: her husband of 23 years, their 19-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son. From their home base in Aledo, they jump into their Sprinter RV and head for the hills as often as they can. “We all love camping,” she chuckles.

She also acknowledges being a fan of Def Leppard. “’Hysteria’ is a great album,” she says with a smile. Seemingly on the opposite side of the cultural fence, she admits that her favorite movie is the classic weeper “Sixteen Candles.”

Some Real Advice

What advice does she have for women who’d like to explore careers in the automotive industry but feel uncertain?

“Just be yourself, go out there and be willing to learn and ask questions,” she states. “Nobody’s standing in your way. Immerse yourself in what you’re learning, figure out your niche and just keep going.”