The automotive industry may be an unconventional place for women, but it’s an industry in which Julie Huttig is perfectly at home. Originally from Minneapolis, MN she graduated from the College of St. Benedict with a degree in both English and Business. Finding a job in her home state after graduation proved challenging. A friend told her of a Service District Manager position with Chrysler in Syracuse, NY. She interviewed, got the job and a lifelong career in the industry began.
That first job led Huttig to a second territory in the Adirondacks, where she met her husband, George. “Moving to Elizabethtown 28 years ago was, well, quiet. But raising our family, interacting with people that genuinely care about you, your kids and your business has made it the best thing I could have ever done.” said Huttig. She joined George’s family business, Adirondack Auto Service and in 1999 they opened Adirondack Chevrolet Buick with Julie as the general manager. In 2004, their hat trick in E’town was complete with the opening of a NAPA Auto Parts store. A new NAPA anchor store is slated to open in Plattsburgh this spring, expanding their auto- motive parts and service dynasty.
With a stellar reputation and a great customer base in the North Country, the purchase of the Nissan dealership in Plattsburgh in July of 2015 seemed like kismet. “We always had our eye out for an import brand if it were to become available,” said Huttig. She retained the dealership’s excellent staff, moved in, filled the parking lot with vehi- cles, and has been hitting all the sales numbers required by Nissan. “It’s a great product: good quality, good value,” she explained.
Julie Huttig likes being her own boss. She understands that reputation is everything in the automobile industry and knows that it is the one thing on which you cannot compromise. With fair prices, no stress negotiating and a service policy that will always make it right, she should be the boss for a long while to come.
FOLLOWING ARE EXCERPTS FROM SB’S INTERVIEW WITH JULIE HUTTIG:
The best advice I ever received: During a leadership training session a mentor of mine told me, “Everybody you come in contact with has something going on in their lives that requires empathy and understanding. Every employee or customer has a ‘deal’.” My husband, George, has always lived with the adage, “Nothing hap- pens until you sell something.” In the automobile and parts business that certainly rings true.
One lesson I learned the hard way: It goes hand in hand with the best advice I ever received. Early in my career, there were times that I didn’t really sit and listen to people, and I may have jumped to the wrong conclusions. Now I take my time and really try to con- nect with what someone is trying to tell me.
My mission: In both the Nissan dealership and the soon to open NAPA Auto Parts of Plattsburgh, my hope is to establish a trusting relationship with our customers and provide customer service that exceeds their expectations. If there are times when that doesn’t happen, we will do everything in our power to do the right thing.
My real job description: It is different every day. I work hard and I am not afraid of doing what needs to be done. Everything from selling a vehicle, washing it if needed, taking out garbage, working with employees on our processes, building shelving at NAPA, sweeping the floors, I really don’t care. I have an unbelievable staff that makes my job easy. They are kind, smart, hardworking and fun. That’s important.
Julie Huttig likes being her own boss. She understands that reputation is everything in the automobile industry and knows that it is the one thing on which you cannot compromise.
My advice: For any woman or man, to pursue any career, automo- tive related or not, is to work harder than anyone else, be willing to listen and learn from seasoned employees and know that you don’t know everything.
My strengths: I believe I am fair, honest, sincere, fun, tough, happy, grateful, and passionate about what I do.
Changing with the industry: When I started with Chrysler 30 years ago, fuel injection was just coming on the scene. Vehicles were still carbureted and had plenty of driveability issues. I don’t have to tell anyone how technology in automobiles today surpasses any- thing we could have imagined back then. All manufacturers provide plenty of training for sales and service personnel and it is imperative to keep up with it. And when all else fails and I don’t understand something, I ask my sons.
Advantages of doing business in the North Country: I find the women that I have working for me are very strong, and they have such respect for all of our employees. They are compassionate, funny, motivated, and keep the men in line. Actually, the men are pretty exceptional, too. There is such a kindness in the North Country, and people really believe that it is important to do the right thing and be your best you.