Meet Ellenae Fairhurst, the owner of the first-ever Black-owned Lexus dealership in the country. Her company, Lexus of Huntsville, located in Huntsville, Alabama, is the nation’s 48th largest dealership owned and operated by an African American entrepreneur. Because of COVID-19, her dealership, like many others across the country, now allows you to customize your car online and have it delivered to your home.
Breaking the mold
Ellenae’s career in the auto industry began way back in 1968 when she was a secretary at the Ford Motor Company. She then enrolled in the Chrysler Corporation training program, and later even secured an Infiniti franchise.
But as of 1988, she has owned the Lexus dealership that she still runs to this day. She has been credited with increasing her sales to the point where she was able to pay off her dealership in half the time it usually takes — in just eight years, versus the average 15 years.
Changing the rules
Men have dominated the car dealership industry for years, and it has always been rare to see a woman owning a car dealership – and exceptionally rare to see a woman of color in the industry.
Although 85 percent of auto purchases are made by women, according to several credible sources like Auto Trends, less than 8 percent of all car dealerships across the nation are owned by women. Only about 1 percent are held by women of color.
Thankfully though, Ellenae Fairhurst’s example inspires many others to believe that they too can break barriers!