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Herb Chambers – The value of confidence

Workers want a leader they can believe in

By Elizabeth Cooney, Globe Correspondent

HERB CHAMBERS WAS in the middle of expanding his car sales business when the recession hit, but he kept right on going with plans to open new dealerships and expand others. Now Chambers is hiring, and employees are glad they’re at a company that’s growing while their industry is gasping.

When the climate is gloomy, employees want company leaders to offer confidence, communication, and a sense that a bright future is being built.

Workers at these companies believe their professional fate is in good hands:

Herb Chambers Top 10 Places to WorkHerb Chambers Cos.: Twenty-five years ago, it wasn’t the norm for an auto dealer’s service department to wash the cars before returning them to customers, but Herb Chambers did it. “My feeling was a clean car always ran better than dirty one did,’’ said Chambers, head of his namesake business.

This year, going against the grain meant completing $50 million in new facilities. It’s that kind of thinking that has allowed Chambers auto dealerships to grow while other dealers are struggling or even closing down.

That sits well with employees, especially in the high-pressure world of auto sales. “I think it gives our people a great deal of confidence,’’ Chambers said. “They feel good about our company. They believe they are in the right place.’’

One after another, Chambers employees surveyed for Top Places cited the boss himself and the company’s growth as reasons for their satisfaction.

Not that Chambers has escaped the recession entirely. Sales are down 19 percent this year compared to last year, when the expansion was planned. But national numbers are down even more: from 30 to 34 percent.

“We never had a doubt about the future,’’ said Michael Hannafin, service director at Flagship Motorcars, a newly refurbished Chambers dealership in Lynnfield. “He’s a guy who believes in what he is doing. That trickles down.’’

Hannafin said Chambers recently pulled aside a manager who had reorganized a parts department, saying he wanted the rest of the company to copy the system. “You can’t measure what that does for an employee,’’ Hannafin said. “That guy was on cloud nine and the rest of his team was motivated, because he was singled out in a positive way by the CEO of the company.’’

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