Dealers Care

Car Dealer, Family Man and Community Leader

Third generation Texas car dealer, Ray Huffines has continued the legacy of one of our state’s most respected franchised dealer families.

The Huffines Dealer Group started in Denton in 1924. Ray Huffines’ grandfather, J.L. Huffines, Sr., was first a Willys-Overland dealer, adding Chevrolet a few miles down the road in 1927 in Lewisville. Ray’s father, J.L. Huffines, Jr. opened a second Chevrolet Point in Commerce, Texas in the 1950’s.

From that modest beginning in Denton County, the Huffines organization under the leadership of Ray Huffines has grown to nine dealerships in three north Texas counties, selling 15,000 new and used vehicles per year.

Known for his devotion to his family and his faith, Ray Huffines has instilled that culture throughout his organization. Caring for the Huffines employees is paramount to Mr. Huffines even going so far as providing a chaplain service to counsel team members in times of crisis. This caring approach is typically only experienced in a closely held family business such as a franchised car dealership. The Huffines model is representative of how Texas dealers take a personal interest in those who make their dealerships successful and who are respected and recognized for their contributions to this great industry.

Mr. Huffines, like his father before him, is also recognized for his conservative political principles. He has spent much of his career supporting candidates for office who are faith based, family oriented, supportive of education and the businesses who create jobs and build our local communities. Ray Huffines has helped numerous qualified candidates achieve public office and has influenced many issues critical to the future of Texas and Texans. He never asks for recognition, accolades or credit, but he as much as any individual defends the rights of Texas dealers, their employees and their customers.

Ray Huffines and other Texas dealers provide essential transportation to 26 million Texans while making our state a better place to live and raise a family.

Tom and Susan Durant and The Classic Chevrolet Family Still Number One

Tom Durant’s Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine swept the Chevrolet National Sales crown for an unprecedented eighth consecutive year.

What made this accomplishment even more remarkable was the fact that major highway construction surrounding the dealership for all of 2013 had made it almost impossible to reach the dealership.

The incredible staff at Classic Chevrolet never took their eye off of the national leadership goal in spite of blocked road exits, ever changing detours and shutdowns of the main roadways on key sales weekends. It took a sprint in the homestretch, but there are now eight national championship trophies displayed in the showroom at Classic Chevrolet in Grapevine, Texas.

Tom and Susan Durant, the owners of Classic Chevrolet, are as well known for their community service as for their sales leadership.  

The heat of the national sales race in 2013 never took away from the dealership’s mission of outreach to Texas communities in need. From the $10,000 raised by Classic Chevrolet employees and matched dollar for dollar by Tom and Susan to aid the victims of the devastating explosion in West to the seven local organizations supported by the “Classic Employees Charity Fund” which raised over a quarter of a million dollars in 2013, including a matching gift from Tom and Susan Durant, the Classic team provides essential transportation to their customers and funding for programs that help literally thousands of Texans.

Classic executives Erv Randle and Ken Thompson say it best. Erv speaking for the dealership staff relates, “Tom and Susan have steadfastly matched every penny that our employees have raised for charity for years. Their support of our efforts is nothing short of inspiring. We sincerely appreciate the Durant family for what they let us do.” Ken Thompson of the Thompson Group at Classic explains, “Our employees fully embrace the example that Tom and Susan Durant have set in regards to giving back to the community. I believe that everyone here feels a moral obligation to help in a tangible way.


Jerry and Vickie Durant

Jerry Durant and his wife, Vickie are the role models for leadership and community service in the cities and towns touched by the Durant family of dealerships. True Texans, they combine their love for horses and their love of people, particularly children, in their charitable and educational outreach.

They are honorary chairs of the Careity Celebrity Cutting Horse Competition supporting cancer patients and children suffering debilitating diseases.  The Don Allen Health Science Building at Weatherford College is also named for Jerry Durant’s partner, Don Allen.

Weatherford High School has a new Durant Auditorium thanks to the donation of 60 acres of land to the school by Jerry Durant. Cook’s Children’s Hospital, the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse, the Weatherford Rodeo, Weatherford Youth Soccer, Weatherford FFA, and the Weatherford Blue Belles are other programs near and dear to the hearts of Jerry and Vickie Durant and the Durant Auto Group.

At his Silverado Arena just outside of Weatherford, Jerry Durant and his Brazos Valley Cutters hold a weekend cutting horse competition each month and a ten day show every fall called the Brazos Bash. This year the Brazos Bash had over 1,000 entries from all over the world. Just another example of a Texas dealer preserving the heritage of our state and spreading that western culture around the globe. No one does it better and creates more good for others than Jerry and Vickie Durant, their employees and the Durant family of dealerships.

Community Heroes
Sykora Family Ford and Greg May Chevrolet

On April 17, 2013 a disastrous explosion occurred at a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas, which left the town in a state of shock. Nearly every citizen of the town of 2,800 was affected in some way by the tragedy. Today the community is still recovering, but has Sykora Family Ford and Greg May Chevrolet to thank for their immediate and ongoing support in the healing process.

When the magnitude of the explosion became apparent to the community, the response from West’s two franchised new car dealers was immediate. Sykora Family Ford went on social media the night of the tragedy to notify residents that the dealership was available as a meeting place. The following day, the Sykora dealership was established as a collection point for goods to distribute to families who had suffered a loss.

Greg May Chevrolet was equally involved in the community outreach to those in West and surrounding areas, in spite of suffering significant physical damage to their own dealership. With the dealership closer to the blast area, the Greg May Chevrolet staff, led by General Manager Gary Rodenbaugh, protected their customers immediately following the explosion by securing them in a cement block building in the back of the dealership until it was safe for them to travel home to assess the damage to their own property.

In the days following April 17, Greg May Chevrolet served as a donation drop-off point, provided free towing of cars from the blast site, and provided food and drinks to police officers who were securing the scene of the explosion.

Like so many Texas towns, dealers don’t come and go; they become part of the fabric of the community, and are the first businesses to make a difference in a time of need.

Ronnie Sykora, in addition to being the General Manager of Sykora Family Ford, is also an ordained Catholic deacon. In that capacity he provided counseling to many of his fellow residents.

Greg May Chevrolet loaned police vehicles to the City of West and served as a drop-off point for middle and high school students who were forced to attend school outside of the city of West because of the destruction of their own schools. To raise funds for the city’s recovery, the dealership also sponsored “God Bless West” tee shirts which were sold at Greg May Chevrolet in West and Greg May Honda in Waco. All proceeds went to the victims of the tragedy.

Sykora Family Ford donated $500 from every new and used vehicle sale to the West Relief Fund, and Ford Motor Company is contributing a $500 rebate to anyone living in McLennan County as well as adjoining counties until July 8, 2013. In addition, the Sykora dealership loaned used cars to citizens who lost their vehicles in the blast. The two new car dealerships, both Ford and Chevy, got people back in their cars as quickly as possible so the citizens could resume their daily lives and help their families begin the process of recovery.

General Motors came through in a big way for West by giving $100,000 to the Red Cross, and initiating a $500 rebate for those affected by the blast.

Car dealers are much more than a business providing transportation to Texas citizens. They are a big business with a bigger heart. Ed Sykora, Greg May, their families and employees, in support of a community suffering its darkest hour, exemplify everything that is good about Texas and Texas dealers.

Guardian Angel of Loving Pets

In recent years Denton, Texas was desperately in need of a new facility for animal rescue and adoption, but without sufficient city funding they needed someone from the community to step forward and make the initial commitment to launch the project.

As is the case in so many Texas communities, that commitment came from a car dealer family, the McNatts – Jim and Linda. Here is the story of how one dealer family came through for their hometown in a very important way.

Jim decided to honor Linda for her dedication to animal rescue, especially cats. The opportunity arose when he was approached by Denton Animal Shelter Foundation, Inc. (DASF) Chairwoman Bette Sherman concerning the need for a new municipal animal shelter.

The current Denton city shelter is 34 years old, outdated and out of capacity. It has a service area of approximately 200,000 people and yet holds only 114 animals. The city is not under obligation to provide adoption services; therefore taxpayer funding was not available for an updated adoption and care facility. However, DASF obtained a public/private partnership agreement with the city to build a new 15,300 square foot animal control municipal facility which includes a state-of-the art-shelter and on-site veterinary clinic. The city agreed to purchase six acres of park land and match private funds raised by DASF. Of the $5.0 million total cost, DASF raised $2.0 million specifically for the shelter and clinic areas. Due to Jim’s efforts, $30,000 in matching grants were received from Toyota Corporation.

As a surprise to Linda, Jim generously agreed to donate $500,000 for the entire new building to be named the Linda McNatt Animal Care and Adoption Center. The new building is surrounded by park and recreation land which will include walking trails and playgrounds. The building itself will be a significant addition to the Denton community and will be a model of modern shelter design which emphasizes healthy and attractive animal habitats, making shelter pets more adoptable and thus saving more lives.

The Denton City Council has recognized the enormous contribution of the McNatts as well as that of DASF. The foundation board has noted that Jim played a key role in the success of the capital campaign by being a lead donor early in the process. His generosity allowed DASF to attract other major donors and complete the campaign early.

Additionally, the McNatts provide on-going support to DASF and to the current shelter on programs that increase adoptions. Recently, their support in the national ASPCA $100,000 Rachael Ray Challenge was integral to DASF/ Denton shelter’s final ranking of 6th in the nation.

Throughout Texas there are essential institutions named for automobile and truck dealers and their families. There are schools, stadiums, libraries, parks, hospitals…and soon there will be the Linda McNatt Animal Care and Adoption Center in Denton to confirm once again that franchised dealers more than any other group of Texans are essential to the fabric of the state and the communities in which they live.

Dealer Associations Support Don A. Buckalew Elementary School

Former TADA Chairman Don A Buckalew recently presented contributions from the NADA Charitable Trust, the TADA Foundation and the HADA Foundation to his namesake school in The Woodlands.

Dedicated in 1998, Don A. Buckalew Elementary School is an award winning institution whose vision statement, “A Learner-Centered School and a caring community preparing students to be successful in life” reflects the principles and values of Conroe Chevrolet dealer Don Buckalew.

Accompanied by TADA staff members Bill Wolters and Karen Phillips, as well as Houston Automobile Dealers Association President Wyatt Wainwright, Don Buckalew presented checks to Buckalew Elementary School Principal Linda Crews. Principal Crews and Conroe ISD Superintendant Dr. Don Stockton thanked Don Buckalew and praised him for his outstanding leadership in the Conroe/Woodlands education community, including multiple terms as Chairman of the Conroe ISD School Board.

Out of respect for their namesake, the school carries the title of “Buckalew Bears” with school colors of green and gold. It is not a coincidence that Don Buckalew is a staunch Baylor Alumni, who believes that you might as well start out in kindergarten wearing the school colors and singing “that good old Baylor line.”