But for Robin, giving up has never been an option. “When you are part of a team, when you have people working for you who have families to provide for, you carry that responsibility. You do whatever it takes to help everyone be successful.” Robin and her husband drew from their savings to keep the business afloat, and to keep every employee on the payroll. When their savings were exhausted, they begged and they borrowed until the economy turned around.
PHOTO: THERESA WENGEL
trust the wait …
PHOTO: THERESA WENGEL
Work Hard, Be Patient, Never Give Up! If you chose the latter, you already know about Robin Smith Salzman, co-owner of two local dealerships: Lake Norman Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, and Gastonia Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. Robin may be the mother of three kids, and the grandmother of eight, but she takes care of her employees like they’re family. While some folks have humanistic maxims stitched on their throw pillows, Robin truly lives by hers, and puts her money where her mouth is.
P O P Q U I Z . When
you hear the word “success,” what kind of person pops up in your mind? Is it a Wall Street tycoon, an Ivy League-educated businessman who learned at his father’s knee how to make a killing in stocks? Or is it a grandmother who drained her savings to save her car dealership, and retain every employee, when the economy tanked?
“A few simple things have guided me in my life and my career,” she says. “Treat people how you want to be treated, and give back more than you take.” Her commitment to this philosophy was tested in 2008, when the financial collapse took its toll on the auto industry. When folks are struggling to pay the rent and put food on the table, buying a new car becomes an impossible luxury. And when cars aren’t selling, it’s tough for car dealership owners to pay their employees. Robin and her husband were faced with some tough decisions.
L A K E NORMAN
“We have been blessed to come back stronger than ever. We’re grateful, now, to give back to our community, and to our employees who helped us make it through a rough time.” The proof is in the pudding: in 2013, five years after the economy collapsed, Robin and her husband were able to add the Gastonia dealership to their flagship in Lake Norman.
The auto industry offers tremendous opportunities for women, from sales to service to accounting. “Women tend to be more detail oriented than men,” Robin says. “This can be helpful when it comes to all the paperwork that comes with purchasing an automobile.” A standout example of a woman succeeding in the auto industry is sales associate Maggie, who recently celebrated her 15th anniversary at the dealership. Maggie is Ram certified; she drives a Ram truck. “Truck sales are the most fun for Maggie,” Robin says. Along with all of the loyal employees at Lake Norman’s and Gastonia’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealerships, Maggie embodies Robin’s prescription for success in automobile sales: “Work hard, become an expert in your product, provide great customer service…and always be respectful of your second family: your coworkers.” w
WRITER CYNDY ETLER
PHOTOGRAPHER CHELSEA BREN
Lake Norman Woman Magazine July 2019