One on One: Robby Pierce and Gordon Stewart

One on One spread

Photos by Beau Gustafson

Our one on one conversation this month features two business execs who bring their own individual world views to their jobs and companies.

Gordon Stewart grew up in the automobile business in Detroit, Michigan. His father owned a management group that operated Chevrolet dealerships in Michigan, Florida, and Georgia. In 1999 they went shopping for a Toyota store and purchased Hoover Toyota. Though he did not originally plan to be hands-on at Hoover Toyota, Stewart moved to Birmingham in 2003 as the full-time general manager and co-owner of the dealership.

“We take real pride in being in the car business. We are honored to work in this industry and want to restore the car business to its rightful place of being a really honorable way to make a living,” Stewart says.

“Our growth as a business has resulted from rebuking the conventional ways of doing business. We don’t holler and scream. We aren’t car dealers yelling at you during the news. The way we look at it the creative marketing options available now are unbelievable. We focus on what fun videos can we create, how can we create a social media buzz.

“We want to distinguish ourselves. I did no advertising whatsoever for a couple of years and focused on our staff. In order to find good people, I went with guaranteed salaries. You would think that would adversely affect my profits, but it was the opposite. We hired people who had never sold cars before. We hired pastors, policeman, soccer moms, realtors. The business flourished, and then we did the creative marketing, which I love.

“I did not do it out of a rebellious nature. I did it because  I resented what was wrong with the car business, and I wanted to fix it here at Hoover Toyota. We have had record years. Today, I feel like we have all the bases covered with 500 new Toyotas in stock. We have grown to become the largest new car volume dealership (of any brand) in the entire state of Alabama,” Stewart says.

When he first moved to Alabama, Stewart missed the pro sports teams and the varieties of ethnic experience he grew up with in Detroit. Today he sees metro Birmingham as “just a lovely place to live.”

Stewart lives in Greystone with his wife Nicole and their four children, aged 6 to 14. “From a family perspective, it is just delightful,” he says. A secret electric guitar player, Stewart loves to write and record music when not doing stuff with the family.

Robby Pierce is the founder and owner of SourcePointe, Inc., a human resources outsourcing firm that primarily works with small and mid-size companies. His business is full of hot topics these days with growing regulations from federal and state governments for which compliance can be cumbersome and costly.

“Our company allows business owners to focus on their core business and outsource the items that are not revenue producing, such as HR. A significant part of  SourcePointe’s business revolves around workplace consulting and managing conflict,” Pierce says.

For Birmingham Pierce sees nothing but promise. “Good things are happening, and the new Regions Park/Birmingham Barons move to downtown is huge. I am a season ticket holder with a box at the stadium, and I can see how much the Barons move impacts the community as a whole. There is a tremendous amount of revitalization going on out there. As a business owner with offices in other cities, I can see how much Birmingham has going for it,” he says.

Business aside, Pierce has been inspired by his several trips to Africa. He and his daughter climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to celebrate her high school graduation. “You can’t visit Africa and not take an interest in that part of the world,” he says. Pierce is involved with the actor Edward Norton’s African charities that promote sustainable lifestyles to protect wildlife. In addition he sponsors a school in the Chula Hills part of Kenya, and each year sponsors a runner from Kenya in the New York City Marathon.

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