FLINT TWP. — Knocking down walls that have kept women out of predominantly male-oriented industries is nothing new to Stacy Shea Fields.
As the owner of Shea Automotive Group, 5135 Corunna Rd., Fields said she recognizes she’s in a minority as most automobile dealerships are male-owned.
But having come from a career in industrial real estate development, she said she’s no stranger to being in that minority and sees it as an opportunity for empowering women.
“We have 198 employees here, many of the key players have stuck with us,” said Fields, referring to her purchase of the dealership from Don and Patsy Lou Williamson last year. “We have a lot of different talent here, but our operations director is a woman, many key positions are held by women.”
Fields said she will go as far as to call Shea Automotive Group a “female friendly dealership.”
While this is her first venture in owning a car dealership, she said her brother and husband both have experience in the industry and were instrumental in helping her get started in the industry.
Still, the move from industrial real estate to automotive sales was a major career change for Fields and she admits, it’s taken some adjustment after 25 years in her former career.
But overall, she said she’s spent the past year learning the ropes and getting herself acclimated to the job.
“Selling an asset is selling an asset. It’s the same in industrial real estate as it is at a car dealership,” said Fields. “I felt it was a good opportunity here. It’s been an easy transition, I thought it would take longer but I dove right in.”
The Shea Automotive Group is in a unique situation, said Fields, selling two brands, Chevrolet and Buick/GMC, on 71-acres at the corner of Corunna and Linden roads. In addition to many new cars and trucks for sale there, the dealership boasts a “Megalot” of used cars and has ample service space.
But cars are only part of the business, said Fields. The other part is customer service, which is something Shea Automotive Group is making strides in.
“We want the community to know this is a new dealership,” said Fields. “We are truly a dealership that is customer-oriented”
Fields said she sends cookies to new car buyers as a thank-you and includes her direct number so the customer can talk to her with any comments of feedback they may have.
She said when she first started this practice, she found herself inundated with calls and almost considered discontinuing it. But in time, she said it has become more manageable and is a good way to form a relationship with her customers.
“Now it’s a personal thing to me,” said Fields. “I have people calling to thank me for my thank-you. That’s what we want.”
Shea is also working to have her dealership involved in the community as much as possible. Shea Automotive Group is a proud sponsor of Dort Financial Event Center events ranging from Flint Firebirds hockey to high school graduations.
The company is also a sponsor of Ele’s Place of Flint & Genesee County, Whaley Children Center, Ronald McDonald House, The Ally Challenge, McLaren Hospitality House, Back to the Bricks, Swartz Creek Hometown Days fireworks, Denim & Diamonds for Voices of Children Advocacy Center and Durand Area Youth Baseball & Softball.
The dealership also has a Salute to the Troops and the Shea Pet Page, part of the PAWS spring event.
Fields said she also likes to stay connected to her team members by taking them to lunch and doing things for them to show they are appreciated.
She cites the porters for instance, a necessity at a car dealership but an often-overlooked position.
“When it’s cold out, no one wants to be a porter,” said Fields. “That’s why we have hot lunches for our porters in the winter.”
She said she tries to walk around the buildings on the Shea lot and talk to the employees, sometimes pulling them aside to ask how everything is going.
“I have an open-door policy,” said Fields. “When you announce that, people will talk to you.”
Fields said she’s glad to see the Shea name becoming known in Genesee County and the surrounding area. At first, she said, many people didn’t know what Shea was.
She points out Shea is not only her middle name, but also a name shared with a niece and daughter.
“People are starting to understand the Shea name,” said Fields. “It’s feels good for the community to know this is a new dealership, one that is truly customer-oriented.”