Gregory Jackson: Business leader, Legacy in Motion Company of the Year

Gregory Jackson has gained national prominence for his success launching, expanding and managing a network of well-branded, highly visible businesses in the ultra-competitive automotive industry.

When Jackson’s Prestige Automotive Group grossed $1.67 billion in sales in 2005, he made history by becoming the first African-American to lead an auto dealership group with more than $1 billion in annual sales. His firm then became one of only three Black-owned companies to have reached yearly sales of $1 billion or more.

Although the decade-ending shakeup of the global auto industry changed the brands Prestige Automotive carries and reduced its size, the unit remains the heart of Jackson Automotive Management, based in St. Clair Shores.

Gregory Jackson leads Jackson Automotive Management as chairman, president and CEO.

Today, the company consists of four auto dealerships: Mercedes-Benz of St. Clair Shores; Toyota of Warren in Warren; Courtesy Ford of Okemos, Michigan; and the new Prestige Cadillac in Warren.

Jackson Automotive Management also owns Copper Ridge Golf Course in Davison, Mich. Jackson is excited about his new venture as owner of the New Lafayette Towers Residential Complex. His company, Lafayette Ventures, LLC, is aggressively working on plans to restore one of Detroit’s many jewels to its original grandeur by the end of this year.

Jackson’s venture is not a gamble. Rather, it is an investment in the people and the city of Detroit. Just as he approached the automotive industry, he is anxious to take on this challenge.

“There’s no magic wand or secret to success, just good old-fashioned hard work,” he said. “I may or may not be the smartest person in the room, but very few people will outwork me. So when others are asleep, I’ll be doing my research and, most importantly, learning every aspect of a business.”

Gregory Jackson is also an owner and a member of the Board of Directors of two separate Chinese-American joint venture corporations based in Beijing and Wuhu, China.

He appreciates the acclaim his organization has received as a diverse business, but what really matters, he believes, is great customer service.

“Our service is key. Each employee will be passionate and have a caring spirit, which will allow us to present a great automotive buying experience,” he said.

“In addition to the service advantage, we measure our success by attracting and retaining loyal customers from every part of the community, and executing a business plan that leads to outstanding financial performance.”

Jackson Automotive Management’s financial success begins with Jackson’s background as a certified public accountant, which has taught him to quickly analyze financial statements and understand the true story a business tells about itself.

Another key to success is Jackson’s commitment to hiring and training the best managers and making them responsible for measurable results, without micromanagement from him. Yet, Jackson immerses himself in every aspect of operations, so that he can ask any manager “30 questions” about his or her department to assess progress.

Jackson holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Morris Brown College in Atlanta and a master’s degree in finance and marketing from Atlanta University’s Graduate School of Business. He worked for the tax and consulting firm of Arthur Andersen & Co. from graduation in 1981 to 1984.

He then became controller of Stroh’s Transportation, a division of the former Stroh’s Brewery Company. During his tenure at Stroh’s, Jackson launched and was simultaneously working on his own gourmet cookies venture, The Kastleton Company.

Prestige Automotive Group earned Black Enterprise magazine’s top ranking for annual sales among African- American auto dealers in 2001 and each year between 2003 and 2008. The editors named Prestige Automotive Group Dealer of the Year in 2006. In 2008, Mercedes-Benz named Prestige Automotive Group as winner of its Best of the Best award.

In addition, Jackson served two terms as president of the General Motors Minority Dealers Association (GMMDA). He also served on the GMMDA Board of Directors for seven years, was a member of the Board of Directors for the Automotive Hall of Fame; was first vice chairman of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers; and was a council member of the General Motors Minority Dealer Advisory Council.

Jackson is an active member of the National Automobile Dealers Association and several other auto industry groups.

His career as an entrepreneur began in childhood, when he delivered newspapers door-to-door for the Detroit Free Press. By early adulthood, he had formed The Kastleton Company and began baking and selling specialty cookies at eight regional Kastleton-owned retail locations.

But when a more health-conscious public became less interested in pricey treats, he entered the GM Minority Dealer Training program, graduating in 1989. He learned the business by working for a number of dealerships in a wide array of jobs.

In September 1993, he purchased his first dealership — Prestige Pontiac-Oldsmobile in Mt. Morris, Michigan, near Flint.

Jackson participates in events as a speaker and seminar facilitator for public schools, business and community groups, and has been a guest lecturer at the Harvard University and Atlanta University graduate schools of business. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition; the Board of Trustees of Morris Brown College; a lifetime member of the NAACP; and is a consistent supporter of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) and a host to UNCF fundraisers at his dealerships on behalf of deserving African-American students.

In addition, he is a member of the Music Hall Board of Directors and a Henry Ford Health System Foundation trustee.

He has been a devoted life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. since March 26, 1977, when he was accepted into Beta Delta Chapter at Morris Brown College.

Gregory Jackson resides in Detroit and during his leisure time, enjoys playing golf, watching sports and spending time with his family. While he has enjoyed a career full of success, the married father of two says his greatest accomplishment is “raising two honest, trustworthy, respectful, hard-working, caring and loving young adults.”

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