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Family Business Works with the John Maxwell Company to Continue Solid Growth

Family Business Works with the John Maxwell Company to Continue Solid Growth

The Davis Automotive Group drives home the very definition of a family business. Founded by John Davis Sr. and passed down to his son, John Davis Jr., the business is now run by the next generation of tightly-knit brothers: Tim, Mike, and Luke.

Working in a family business means receiving personalized attention that most employees never have the chance to experience elsewhere, such as valued employees receiving travel packages on key anniversaries. The three Davis brothers even travel over a thousand miles every December to deliver Christmas turkeys to every employee in the group, taking the time to shake their hands and offer a sincere “thank you.”

But this personal touch does not stop Davis Automotive Group from becoming a rapidly growing organization. With 10 automotive dealerships, the company expanded to include a wide variety of related businesses including an R/V store, a heavy equipment store, a detail center, 3 body shops, a property development arm, a wholesale automotive division, and a rental franchise, totaling of over 550 employees. This diversification is intentional, as family businesses that make it past the second generation usually get there by thinking strategically. And the strategic thinking of Davis Automotive Group is paying off. For five years in a row, the organization has been recognized as a Top 50 Employer in Canada.

But healthy growth in a family-run business brings its own unique set of challenges. “We have some excellent leaders in our organization, but human capital is the toughest arena to navigate in any business,” explained Mike Davis, General Director for Davis Automotive Group. “Making each of our strong leaders even better is the way we want to grow. We want to help our people achieve their goals.

In the past, I don’t think we did a good enough job developing the leadership qualities in our people, which is an essential part of a family run business. It takes a concerted effort to develop leaders internally, and we knew that we needed support in this effort.”


Mike Davis knew what he wanted in his search for a partner. “I was looking for specific leadership training, comparing programs through my research and referrals from other people. I found the John Maxwell Company to be the best fit and their program made the most sense. To me, The 5 Levels of Leadership and the Maxwell Leadership Assessments are the best resources for leadership development. It really aligned with what we needed in a leadership program. I also appreciated the John Maxwell Company’s idea of ‘intentionality’ in terms of defining specifically where we needed to go as a business. That hit home with me.”

The John Maxwell Company used the Maxwell Leadership Assessment to show the leaders at Davis Automotive Group how well they actually lead, and what other team members think of their level of influence. This comprehensive 360-degree assessment helps leaders accurately identify both their areas of strength, and their opportunities for growth. Trainers from the John Maxwell Company help the senior leaders at Davis Automotive Group discover what it means to be intentional in their own development, and how to develop and nurture skills in others.

Working with the John Maxwell Company, Mike Davis created a plan to bring in past leaders from Davis Automotive Group, including his father and another influential employee that had 27 years of experience with the company. As part of the on-boarding process, all new employees attend a session with these mentors to learn about the Davis values, history and culture. New leaders in the company can also book time with them to get more one on one mentorship.


So far, the results are very promising. “I’m seeing more conversations happening around the idea of being leaders,” said Davis. “There’s more discussion with staff around our values and alignment to those values.”

“Speaking personally, I think the John Maxwell Company program has given me a confidence I did not have before in terms of an understanding of where I’m at in my working relationship with certain individuals,” he continued. “When I understand the level of influence I have, I can leverage that to work with them better.”

The initial rollout with the John Maxwell Company has involved over 60 leaders and potential leaders  at Davis Automotive Group. The plan is a deep vertical initiative with this first segment, followed by a phased rollout to the rest of the Group. Word is spreading and Mike Davis feels acceptance of the program will be better in other parts of the organization using this approach. New recipients will already have a baseline understanding of the program and its importance from those that have gone through it previously.

The overall goal to Mike Davis is simple. “We want to find people early in their careers and do everything we can to help them become the future leaders that we need.”