Women in Retail: Vanessa Delegas of Lovering Auto Group

CARY, N.C. – 

In a key complement to our Women in Remarketing and Women in Auto Finance franchises, Auto Remarketing is proud to celebrate our second annual Women in Retail awards, a program sponsored by CarGurus.

We spotlight these honorees in the Oct. 15 issue of Auto Remarketing, which includes Q&As with each recipient of the award.

Next up is Vanessa Delegas, president and CEO of Lovering Auto Group.

Auto Remarketing: What was your path to working in automotive, and what do you enjoy most about the industry?
Vanessa Delegas: I feel very lucky to have grown up in the car business. My paternal grandfather was a business consultant and entrepreneur across many industries. Over the years, he owned several automotive franchises, a furniture store, and several automotive transmission repair franchises. His most successful businesses ultimately were two dealerships in southern New Hampshire: Volvo and Toyota stores, which are where my parents started their careers in automotive.  

My parents eventually branched off from my grandfather in 1996, and purchased their first Volvo store in Concord, N.H. Over the years, they grew to three Volvo locations, which we continue to own today in Nashua, Concord and Meredith, N.H.

I am fortunate to have grown up with very supportive parents who encouraged me and my siblings to pursue a career in whichever field we chose. There was no pressure to participate in the family business; the only rule was that if we did want to join the family business, we needed to spend at least two years post-college working elsewhere before joining. 

Having grown up with the brand, I always considered Volvo part of my identity, but I never knew for sure if I wanted to work in automotive. After I graduated from Babson College in 2010, I started my career in digital advertising in New York City, working with organizations such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Smirnoff, Red Stripe and March of Dimes.

Vanessa Delegas

In 2012 I moved home to join my family’s organization, Lovering Auto Group, initially holding the position of marketing manager. Eventually, I attended the NADA Academy and moved into a new role as an operations manager and then general manager years later. In 2019, I became the president and CEO, which is the position I hold today.

AR: Who is a leader, within the auto industry, that you admire and why?
Delegas: There are many people that I admire in this industry, though the first that come to mind are my parents. I feel very strongly about the importance for young kids, and especially young girls, to have role models in their lives.

Everyone needs a mentor to learn from and to demonstrate that if you really commit to something, anything is possible. As a young girl, I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have my parents as role models, who were both business and life partners. In addition, I feel fortunate to have grown up with a working mom who was a CEO to a successful organization. Because this was my normal, I never felt any limitations on my future and potential. I never questioned if I could be a mom and have a successful career.

Another person that I admire and feel grateful to have as a friend and mentor is Liza Borches. Liza is the president and CEO of Carter Myers Automotive, a 16-store group in Virginia. Liza and I met through our Volvo 20 Group, and we have gotten to know each other personally and professionally over many years (including many early-morning runs together!) I admire so many things about Liza.

One thing that is so unique and admirable about Liza is her ability to lead a large, successful organization with a strong, well-rounded mission, that not only she lives and breathes daily, but so does her entire team through her impact and leadership. Liza was also an important sounding board for me before I started having a family. She pushed and encouraged me to not give up on my ability to both run my family’s organization and also be a great mom to my (at the time) future children.

AR: What accomplishment or moment in your career are you most proud of?
Delegas: There are two accomplishments that come to mind. The first and most recent accomplishment is the performance of my organization and how we have grown and flourished during the COVID-19 pandemic. Talking with many other dealers during the initial months of COVID-19, many experienced one of two things:

1) panic that led to stagnation
2) a coming together of the organization where everyone put their head down and did whatever job needed to get done.

 I’m proud to say my team did the latter. We took action and pivoted daily to the circumstances, while continuing to serve our customers in a safe environment. I feel very lucky that we have grown and seen positive results during a very challenging and dark time for many people.

The second accomplishment I am proud of is the growth we experienced as an organization during several challenging years with the Volvo brand. Volvo experienced a complete rebranding beginning in 2010 when they were sold by Ford to Geely. We managed to grow and improve over the last decade through a strong focus on our people, processes and culture.

AR: What do you enjoy most about working in the auto industry?
Delegas: One of the things I love about the retail automotive industry is that every day is different and it is constantly changing. Like most humans, I thrive on routine and structure, but I could never do the same thing every day. From the changing technology in our products from year to year, to meeting new people every day, there is always something new and exciting to experience.

AR: What aspects of the retail car business would you change?
Delegas: Our greatest challenge that we need to solve in retail automotive is creating a more diverse staff that mirrors the demographics of our customers and the public. More diversity will bring a more balanced perspective and better understanding of people which in turn will help us better serve our customers. In retail automotive, we are open nights and weekends which can be very challenging for many people, especially with families and children.

The more we can make retail automotive a prosperous career for people while also providing benefits that include more flexibility, the more we will attract a wider variety of people.

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