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Alexander gets behind the wheel of family business

It appeared Dane Alexander went missing for the past 18-months, but he’s back and ready to have fun. Since leaving his position with Automotive Management Services – the company that purchased 17 of the Alexander family’s 23 automotive stores – Dane has been spending his time on a project that brings him back to his roots.

He recently reopened the former Alexander Chrysler, Plymouth, Jeep building on Fifth Avenue North, under a new name – Alexander Automotive of Downtown Franklin. R.C. Alexander opened the building in 1963 as Harpeth Motor Company as the second of what eventually became one of the largest automotive retailers in Middle Tennessee. Reopening is an opportunity for Dane Alexander to bring the family business back to Franklin – focusing on the family and community values his grandfather R.C. instilled in him.

“My grandfather used to say, ‘Make a little bit and move on,’ and he said, ‘You can tell how good a business is by how good the community treats it,” Alexander said. “I still plan to serve our customers and the community.”

The building also has sentimental value. “This location was the first job my father [Barry Alexander] had – sweeping floors and washing cars; the first job I had – sweeping floors and washing cars and the fi rst job my 9-year old son has,” Alexander said. “Three days a week he comes in to sweep floors and wash cars. When I started here I got paid $2 an hour – my son complained when I offered that and he negotiated for more."

R.C also taught him, to get anywhere in life, one had to work hard.

“I came from a family of farmers,” he said “I learned a dealership is just like a farm – there’s always something to do. I have to make my son work – it was the way I was raised. If I didn’t, I would be doing him a great injustice.”

The car business wasn’t Alexander’s fi rst choice in a career. Before his grandfather convinced him to join the family business, he owned three businesses – lawn care, landscaping and a mobile detailing business.

“I took a cut in pay to join the family,” he said. Alexander Automotive of Downtown Franklin is not a new-car franchise, nor is it a used-car lot.

Alexander’s niche involves classic cars, certifi ed late-model, pre-owned vehicles.

“I get to sell old cars that were sold here when my grandfather and father were here,” he said. “And we have late-model, preowned certifi ed cars. We have anything for anyone from $50,000 to $3,000. I learn a customer's wants, needs and desires and match them up with a car. This is a no-pressure lot. I want to be known as the people’s car guy. I want to earn their trust.”

The Alexander auto tradition began in 1961 when R.C. Alexander opened his fi rst store on Main Street. And with the reopening of his grandfather’s store on 5th Avenue have come several previous customers.

Customer and employee loyalty was established early on in the company’s history. And that loyalty is continuing, even with the staff. The employees have been with the Alexander company for more than 10-years – some more than 15-years.

“It’s been fun being a part of the family,” Alexander said. “I love people and I love my gang.”

The Alexander family has been a part of Williamson County for three generations and Dane Alexander hopes the tradition will continue for several more generations. “I want to bring some life back to this end of town,” he said.

“Since the [2010] fl ood this area has been struggling to come back. I want it to be fun. I want to have fun.”


Posted on: 4/18/2013


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