Herb Chambers is owner of The Herb Chambers Companies, which currently operates 50 dealerships across New England. Together, Herb Chambers auto dealerships generate nearly two billion dollars in sales each year â€“ that is more than three times larger than any other dealer in the area. But you would never know it just by having a conversation with him.
Herb grew up in a blue collar neighborhood in Boston, where he remembers only two out of 100 families coming home with a new car each year. â€œI had this passion for autos from a very young age, especially Cadillacs. To this day, I remember a Dr. Molimo who owned a Cadillac convertible. I never went to see the doctor, but I knew of him because of his car,â€ Herb remembers.
From a young age, Herb was driven. His approach to the working world was to treat it as a game and he constantly asked himself, â€œHow can I do this job faster, more efficiently and produce better results?â€ His first job was working in a supermarket fetching carts and bringing them back to the store. His goal â€“ ensuring the parking lot had zero carts at all times. From cart collector, to cashier, to mopping the grocery store floors, Herb made sure he always gave his best by competing with himself to be the fastest and most efficient. He was born a businessman.
He knew, however, that to be the best he had to continue perfecting his trade. He pursued Dale Carnegie Training and became a skilled rhetorician. He explains, â€œThe best, and even the worst, leaders of the world are the best public speakers. Itâ€™s a critical talent for people in business, especially sales.â€
Prior to entering the automobile business, Herb served four years in the U.S. Navy, where he was put in charge of 10-12 aircrafts per day. His goal this time would be to assure all aircrafts were kept clean and fueled for the next flight, and he offered paid time off to those who would make it happen. â€œIt wasnâ€™t in the rules, but it worked!â€ he says. â€œThey wanted me to extend my service, but I was eager to get back to the real world.â€
Herbâ€™s next venture was into the world of sales. He started as a copy machine repairman, discovering his knack for sales along the way. He sold service contracts, extended warranties, and ultimately copy machines. He was so successful that he decided to go into business for himself. At 23, he founded A-Copy America, a company that would become the largest office copier dealer in the world. In 1983, he merged the company with what is now known as Ikon, an international company listed on the New York Stock Exchange with operations in eight countries.
A lifelong car enthusiast, Herb looked to the automobile industry for his next big opportunity. In 1985, he purchased a Cadillac and Oldsmobile dealership in New London, Connecticut. Herb admits that â€œI didnâ€™t go to buy a dealership; I went to buy a car. I thought the dealership was horrible. I saw their terrible sales force, a rundown facility and I knew this guy didnâ€™t like his business. So, I waited for the dealer to get back from lunch, sat him down, and within 35 minutes I had him sign a sales agreement. The rest is history.â€
He assures his past experience with dealerships â€“ good and bad â€“ helped his business achieve phenomenal success; after all, having acquired hundreds of cars for his personal use and for his companies, he likes to say he had been a â€œvictimâ€ of more car dealers than anyone he knows. Itâ€™s why Herb Chambers sought to create the ultimate ownership experience. â€œWith the first dealership I bought, I offered car washes with every service. I always believed clean cars run better than dirty ones. Seeing customers react to these small changes, I thought, â€˜Wouldnâ€™t it be great if I had 50 of these?â€ he says. Today he has 48.
Next, Herb set his sights on a Cadillac dealership in Providence, Rhode Island, and acquired it with the approval of General Motors. That same year, he was chosen by Hyundai to be their local car dealer, just as the Korean manufacturer was preparing to enter the U.S. market. Just six months later, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche dealerships were available in Boston. Of the many applicants interesting in selling these prestigious brands, only Herb Chambers was chosen by all three manufacturers.
Similar experiences occurred with other franchises. When Toyota opened its new Lexus division, they chose Herb Chambers in their “Relentless Pursuit of Perfection” above all other dealers to represent them on “The Auto Mile” in Norwood. Today, Herb Chambers Lexus, now of Sharon, MA, is the largest and most successful dealer in all of New England. Herb Chambers is also now the largest Honda retailer in New England, with four Honda locations: Burlington, Boston, Seekonk and Westborough, Massachusetts. He also has the largest volume Porsche, BMW, Hyundai and Dodge dealerships in New England, and his three Mercedes-Benz locations are ranked one, two and three in New England.
Almost 30 years after purchasing that first Cadillac dealership, Herb Chambers dealerships have won numerous awards in the automotive industry. In 2003, Wardâ€™s Dealer Business, a publication of PRIMEDIAâ€™s Wardâ€™s Communications, presented Herb Chambers Companies with the Wardâ€™s Dealer of the Year award for â€œfor honesty, exemplary customer service and employee care.â€ Also in 2003, J.D. Power and Associates awarded seven of the Herb Chambers dealerships with the Certified Retailer award. In 2007, Wardâ€™s Dealer Business recognized the Herb Chambers Companies as the 7th most active auto group based on Internet Sales Volume. The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) nominated Herb Chambers Companies as the Massachusettsâ€™ nominee for the 2008 TIME Magazine Dealer of the Year award. In 2011 Herb Chambers Dealerships was the Winner of the Dealer of the Year Award.
Herb Chambers Companies was also selected for “The Boston Globeâ€™s Top Places to Work” by the Boston Globe for 2009, 2010 and 2011 â€“ the company is the only car dealer to ever achieve this special recognition. In addition to providing each customer with the highest quality treatment, Herbâ€™s success is also in how he treats his employees: Great benefits (like a 401K plan with a company match), great work environments, state-of-the-art training and the best franchises are only the beginning. Herb Chambers also offers incredible recognition programs, like the annual â€œMasters of Excellenceâ€ awards ceremony and banquet, where he recognizes the companyâ€™s top performers.
When Herb is asked for his best advice, he smiles and states, â€œIf you are passionate about what you do, you will never work another day in your life. In all honesty, I love what I do so much, that I wouldnâ€™t consider anything else.â€ According to Herbâ€™s calculations, he has not been working since the 1970s.
When Herb isnâ€™t tending to business, he enjoys boating, building yachts and traveling. He is also a regular on the Discovery Channelâ€™s TV document, Chasing Classic Cars, where he uncovers the worldâ€™s rarest and most exotic cars with Ferrari expert and master car restorer, Wayne Carini. He is also a big supporter of the community, giving back to charities like the Joselyn Diabetes Foundation, Camp Harvard and The Opera House.