JACKSON — Just hours after Florida investors acquired Blackwell Import Motors Inc., the dealership’s sole saleswoman, Sherry Broadus, rang up one of the first sales: a 2001 ML320 Mercedes-Benz.
Broadus, 30, a Jackson native and a five-year veteran of selling luxury import cars, and consistently one of the top sales associates in the business, averages selling nearly 100 new and used import cars per year. Broadus was talking in a rush of excitement as she juggled paperwork and chatted amiably about the import business, change of ownership at Blackwell Import Motors Inc., now Higginbotham Automobiles, LLC, and challenges of working in a male-dominated field.
“I am very excited about our new ownership,” she said. “The new owners are already putting in new computers — something we haven’t had — so that every sales consultant has one. Keeping up with all the changes in the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche lineup is important, and is easily accessed through the Internet. Also with the change of ownership, I’ll be able to offer a broader selection of pre-owned cars. I have numerous clients who are looking for something specific like a reasonably priced 1994 C-Class with good gas mileage, around 30 miles per gallon.”
On March 1, Trudy Higginbotham and her father, Dennis Higginbotham, completed the purchase of Blackwell Motor Imports Inc. from the Blackwell family who owned it since 1976. After reviewing results of a survey of Jacksonians that indicated the community was ready for expanded product lines and services, the Higginbothams announced plans to focus more attention on the sale of used luxury cars carrying extended warranties. They’ll employ the same sales strategy and service plans that have been successfully implemented at their Daytona Beach, Fla. Mercedes-Benz-Porsche dealership. (Even though the Blackwells sold both new and used Mercedes-Benz and Porsche cars, they concentrated primarily on newer models.)
Broadus started out selling import cars at Herrin-Gear Infiniti before she “moved up in resale value” to Herrin-Gear Lexus, and stepped over to Blackwell Motor Imports, Inc. last May to sell new and used Mercedes-Benz, the only import car she considers a real investment, and Porsche, the “best choice for getting the most money for trade,” she said.
“Whether it is pre-owned with 80,000 miles or new, I’d rather have my child driving a used high-mile Mercedes Benz that is 10 times safer than most new domestic cars,” she said. “These cars last longer. Maintenance is minimal. The sound German engineering is second to none. Mercedes-Benz need to be regularly maintained, but the good news is, you only have to bring it in every 10,000 miles. And with the new cars, regular maintenance is free for four years or 50,000 miles.”
Bill Brame, a first-time customer from Madison who purchased a 1995 C230 Mercedes-Benz last summer for his wife and daughter, said that Broadus’ professionalism played an important role in his decision to purchase an import car.
“She understands her clients, what they’re buying and why,” Brame said. “Sometimes, there’s an air of arrogance from salespeople with upscale products like Mercedes-Benz or Porsche, but Sherry makes you feel at home. She’s a good people person, and she knows her product line.”
Broadus said being the only woman in sales has made her more aware of how females are treated during their car shopping experience.
“We just want to be treated with respect and feel as if we are able to make an intelligent buying decision without the need of a spouse,” she said. “I think that might be why Bill felt so comfortable sending his wife and daughter to me.”
Broadus, who studied finance at Louisiana State University after a stint at Hinds Community College, stays sharp by poring over industry information and listening to motivational books on tape while tooling around in her import sedan.
Her male counterparts say it’s her integrity — not gender — that makes her a vital member of the team.
“We make her do the same things we do. We don’t cut her any slack,” said Monroe Milton, a fellow sales associate. “Everything here is equal. When we’re on the lot, she’s a sales consultant, not a salesman or saleswoman.”
Broadus, who is married to Steve Broadus, owner of Stevens Golf Shop in Jackson, and mother of Dylan, an active five year old, mixes work and home life easily, thanks to the support of her current and former employers, she said.
“I’ve always been fortunate that my employers have supported me while I’ve worked to balance a successful sales career as a wife and mother,” she said.
When she’s not selling import cars, Broadus likes to head to the country to get dirty — by finding the muddiest terrain in which to ride her four-wheeler.
“Everything I love to do seems to revolve around being outdoors,” she said. “And why not do what you love?”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 853-3967.