On a typical day at Toyota of Boerne, owner Vic Vaughan sees hundreds of faces come through his office. There are customers who stop in to say hello and catch-up. There are sales managers who approach with issues that need his attention.
Various members of the staff will often drop by to give updates on their children’s Little League highlights. His door is almost always open, and from where he sits at his desk, the face he most often sees is that of his oldest son, Shawn, in the office across the hall.
“It hasn’t always been like this,” reflects Vaughan. “Just three years ago, I was finished with the car business.” Then he adds solemnly, “But I had a sudden change of perspective. I found out what’s really important in life.”
The first thing you notice when you walk into Toyota of Boerne is just how sparkling clean it is. There is nary a speck of dust on the floor. The windows are so clear; you might accidentally walk through them if you’re not careful.
“We just believe that the exceptional care we take with our facility is a reflection of how we take care of our customers,” Vaughan says.
This customer-centric strategy is paying off in a big way. Toyota of Boerne recently learned they are the No. 1 volume seller of Toyota Tundra trucks in San Antonio, as well as a recipient of the coveted 2009 Toyota Presidents Award for sales and customer service.
“We’re obviously proud of the accomplishments,” says Vaughan, “but we know we can do even better.”
It’s the kind of competitive spirit that’s infectious to all of the employees at Toyota of Boerne according to Shawn, finance manager, at the dealership. “He’s ultra competitive and wants everyone to perform at their best,” says Shawn. “He’s a tremendous motivator and has one of the biggest hearts of anyone you will ever meet.”
Berto Guerra, chairman & CEO of Avanzar Interior Technologies and co-owner of Toyota of Boerne readily agrees.
“Vic is an outstanding leader with impeccable integrity,” Guerra says. “He has this deep respect and love for his family and friends that transcends into the way he treats our team and our customers at Toyota of Boerne.”
It’s this work ethic and character that has driven Vaughan since he was a high school football letterman at Richardson High School in Richardson. He lived in the Dallas suburb with his mother, Roberta, where at times they struggled to make ends meet.
“My mother had a full time job,” Vaughan says, “but we were barely making it financially. So one day she sat down and told me that if we were going to stay in our house – she needed help.”
Vaughan obtained a hardship drivers license at age 15 and between classes during the day and football practice in the afternoons, he drove to work at local restaurants to help his mother pay the bills. He remains acutely aware of the financial struggles his mother endured, and presently helps others in similar situations by donating time and resources to the “Hill Country Mission for Health.” This Kendall County organization provides pro-bono health work for those who cannot afford medical insurance.
Vaughan continued to work his way through high school and a brief two-year stint in Lubbock at Texas Tech University. After coming home and having a heart-to-heart conversation with his father over dinner one night, Vaughan made the decision to embark on his career path.
“My grandfather was a salesman and my father was a salesman, so it was a pretty natural decision,” says Vaughan.
He was hired at W.O. Bankston Datsun (later Nissan) in Irving and spent 13 years at the dealership in sales and sales management. Soon after the retirement of Mr. Bankston in 1991, Vaughan began a six-month courtship with Fred Haas who owned a successful Toyota dealership in Houston.
Haas was looking for a general manager for his Toyota store, and though relatively young for the position, Vaughan got the job. “I realize now that he was taking his time with me,” muses Vaughan. “I was very young and he wanted to make sure that it was a good fit for everyone involved.”
The fit wasn’t just good – it was perfect.
The business at Fred Haas Toyota skyrocketed over the next decade. A second store was opened in the Houston area and Vaughan was made partner in the organization. He and his wife, Cheri, had just finished building their dream house and planned on living there for the rest of their lives. Then in June 2006, Vaughan and his family’s life was turned upside down, and along with it, his perspective on life.
Cheri woke one Wednesday morning not feeling well, and rapidly worsened. An ambulance was called to take her to the hospital and within 30 minutes of arrival, Cheri was being intubated.
Vaughan was shell-shocked to learn that Cheri had developed ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) as a result of some minor surgery she had days prior. The diagnosis at the hospital was grim and the residing physician advised Vaughan that his children come to the hospital as quickly as possible.
“I asked him if Cheri was going to die,” Vic says. “All he said was that she was in critical condition.”
During the next 24 hours, Vaughan’s family rushed to Methodist Hospital in Houston. Shawn and wife, Stacie, drove in from Baton Rouge, La. His daughter Brittany traveled from San Antonio, and Vaughan’s other son, Blake, already residing in Houston joined the family.
For the next three days Cheri fought for her life while the family held vigil at the hospital. The doctors informed Vaughan that if Cheri made it through the next 72 hours, she would recover and be able to go home by the weekend. To the family’s relief – that’s exactly what happened.
Vaughan took Cheri home that Saturday afternoon. Later, he and his wife attempted to settle in to their dream house, but found something was amiss.
“We had just gone through an incredibly emotional time with all our family together,” says Vaughan. “And then, just like that, they were all gone. The dream house just really didn’t feel like a home.”
Vaughan had also returned to his lucrative job at Fred Haas Toyota and immediately realized that his perspective had undergone a radical shift.
“I started to review my life as a husband and a father,” he notes. “I began to realize that all the material success I had worked so hard for didn’t matter if I didn’t have my family with me.”
The zeal for the business had left him and after some serious soul searching and long conversations with his wife, he made the decision to retire. Little did Vaughan know that his retirement wouldn’t last two months.
Two friends in the automotive business, Mike Calvert and Guerra, were on the consideration list to take ownership of a Toyota dealership in Boerne. They called Vaughan and inquired if he would consider becoming part owner with them, and running the day-to-day operations.
Having just quit his job a month before, Vaughan declined. Calvert and Guerra were persistent, however, and kept knocking at his door. So Vaughan presented a list of needs to Calvert and Guerra that needed to be met in order for him to consider taking on the role.
“None of them were financial,” laughs Vaughan. “Mike and Berto agreed to them pretty quickly.” What the list did include was the desire that his sons be brought in to work with Vic and help run the dealership.
Vaughan became official owner and operator of Toyota of Boerne in August 2008. Shawn and his family packed their bags and left Louisiana to join the family business. Blake moved to San Antonio. Even Roberta sold her house in McKinney to be close to her son.
“It truly is a family business,” says Vaughan. “We encourage all our employees to bring their children and grandchildren down to the dealership to visit anytime.”
Among the children who often stop by are Lola, Vaughan’s 3-year-old granddaughter. On any given day, you’re also likely to see Cheri roaming the dealership and talking to customers, making sure everyone is being taken care of. You might even see Roberta, who often stops in for lunch and chat with her son.
Shawn will be hard at work till late at night in the finance office, and Blake will be splitting time between business development and facilitating Toyota truck training with employees. A steady stream of customers keeps everyone busy and on their toes.
It’s proof positive that Toyota of Boerne is thriving. But for Vaughan – son, husband, father and grandfather – he keeps it all in perspective.
Toyota of Boerne is located eight minutes from Loop 1604 on IH-10 West. For more information, visit www.ToyotaofBoerne.com or call (210) 870-1800.