City: Little Rock
Category: Category III (76-300 Employees)
Steve Landers and his sons, Scott and Steve Jr., are in an unusual but not unprecedented position. Like Little Rock’s Jacuzzi family, they are in the business of competing against their own name and successful reputation.
The Landers name was synonymous with the high-volume car business in Benton. So successful was Steve Landers Sr. that he sold his business to United Auto Group in 1995 and continued as a UAG executive until 2003.
Then, in an effort to set up a family business for the next generation, Landers bought back Landers Toyota in Little Rock and went into business with his sons. In eight years, it has become one of the 25 biggest-selling Toyota dealerships in the country and in the top five in used car sales. The dealership sold $7 million worth of Toyotas last year.
The Great Recession, for all its pain, was actually good for those dealers who survived.
“We’ve weathered a lot of storms in my time, ... so it helped us more so than some of the other dealers,” said Steve Landers Sr., 58. “Are we in a recession still? Yes. Are we tailing out of the recession? Probably. I look for us to have a pretty good ’12 and maybe a much better ’13. Toyota will come out with 15 to 18 new models in the next 24 months or so, and that triggers business.”
Because UAG is still using the Landers name in Benton, the Landers family has used very personal advertising to differentiate the Toyota dealership (and Steve Landers Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, also in Little Rock). And talking to Steve Landers about the future of the family dealerships is not much different from watching one of the television commercials in which he tries to school Stevie, 36, and Scott, 28, on the finer points of selling cars.
“If I can ever get my boys smart enough to run them, I’m going to go home,” he said.