A Drive for Success: Flow Automotive Companies’ Journey of Employee and Community Empowerment

by | Mar 7, 2024

Flow Automotive is a proud sponsor of IGNITE DAVIE as an Employer of Choice. Flow Automotive has 15 dealerships in Statesville and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Flow Automotive is a proud sponsor of IGNITE DAVIE as an Employer of Choice. Flow Automotive has 15 dealerships in Statesville and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

In the bustling world of the automotive industry, where trust can be scarce and customer loyalty hard-won, Flow Automotive Companies (Flow) stands out above the crowd as more than just another dealership. Flow’s approach to doing business shines as a beacon of integrity, employee empowerment, and community involvement.

In a recent interview with Annie Carper, Flow’s director of team member experience, and Dixon Douglas, director of partnerships and customer loyalty, Flow’s principles shine as they discussed Flow’s commitment to employees and the local communities where they do business.

Three male team members conversing at Flow Honda, a Honda dealership located in Winston Salem, NC
Flow takes seriously the development of its emerging leaders. Through Flow GMIT (General Manager in Training Program), recent college graduates are trained in all departments of retail automotive stores. This prepares them to step into leadership roles themselves one day.

It Takes a Team 

Flow focuses on ensuring that employees thrive in their careers and feel a sense of belonging and purpose within the company. Carper emphasized the importance of considering every team member a vital part of the organization, fostering a culture where everyone’s contributions are valued.

“We use the language of team member rather than employee because we believe we’re all a member of the body of this organization, so there’s no role that’s more significant than another,” Carper said.

“A lot of times, when people think about automotive dealerships, they think about sales because that’s what people see. But our service technicians are the ones who keep people on the road and keep people in their vehicles. They’re an imperative part of our business.”

Given this company culture, it’s not unusual for the Flow family to have a team member stay with the organization for decades. 

“We have any number of folks that have been with our company for 30-plus years,” shared Carper. “I think that goes back to trusting the leadership of this company – that we’re doing things the right way, that we’re doing things with integrity.” 

Technician working on computer while helping customer within the service department at Flow Honda, a Honda dealership located in Winston Salem, NC
Flow’s service departments are a vital part of its business and relationship with the community. By providing world-class service to customers and their cars, Flow builds lifelong relationships through the ongoing maintenance of their vehicles.

Customer Loyalty

Douglas echoed this sentiment, emphasizing Flow’s dedication to their customers. He describes the company’s commitment to providing the best service possible, driven by a desire to build genuine customer relationships. 

This commitment extends beyond transactions to initiatives like the Flow Rewards program, which rewards customers for their loyalty and engagement. Both vehicle purchases and general maintenance rack up points that go toward a customer’s next service with Flow. Using the FlowGarage App, users can track Flow Rewards points, vehicle service history, and even real-time updates regarding vehicles brought in for service.

Carper shared, “In the automotive industry, I think there can be a level of distrust that customers have when they interact with folks that are servicing a car, buying your car, or trying to sell you a car.”

“We understand that when people invest in vehicles, that’s one of the most expensive items they’ll ever purchase in life. It’s our promise to our customers that we’re providing them the best-in-class service and sales and that we’re being honest from day one,” stated Douglas.

“So when it comes to customer loyalty, we wanted to differentiate who we are as a company in the market. And when we talk about loyalty, that’s not only about having upstanding teammates but creating a relationship of trust with customers.”

“If you think about how much we value relationships, this is one of the reasons why the rewards program can be so meaningful. Through it, we get to know our customers, and they get to know us,” Carper elaborated.

Exterior of Flow Honda, a Honda dealership located in Winston Salem, NC
Flow Honda of Winston-Salem is a landmark of Flow Automotive Companies. Sitting on Peter’s Creek Parkway across the street from Flow BMW and Flow MINI of Winston-Salem, the location has been the training ground for many of the company’s strongest leaders.

A Family Legacy

At the heart of Flow is its legacy as a family-owned business with an enduring commitment to giving back to the communities they serve. 

“When you’re hired by a family business, you become part of it. You’re not just representing a brand, but the values the Flow family created and maintained since 1957,” shared Douglas.

Douglas commended Flow’s practice of opening dealerships in new markets, noting that their commitment to the community is always front and center. This commitment goes beyond mere philanthropy; it’s about actively engaging with local organizations and initiatives that make a difference in people’s lives.

“Flow has a great legacy of always giving back to this community,” he said.  “Yes, we sell vehicles, but we are committed to the communities that we are in.”

Carper elaborated by sharing that “As a company, we recognize we’re representing more than our retail stores – we’re representing a family and one that has a long history of living in this community, serving this community, and building something in this community.”

“So we take that seriously – that we’re representing not only our colleagues and our peers, but a family, and one with integrity. That should reflect who we are as individuals and how we engage professionally with everyone we come into contact with.”

Two men with business attire smiling and posing for photo representing Flow Automotive Companies leadership
(L to R) Brian Nicolay and Alex Paschold are group presidents at Flow Automotive Companies, overseeing Winston-Salem (Nicolay), Statesville and Asheville (Paschold) stores. Through Nicolay’s role as board chairman with the Davie Community Foundation, Flow became aware of the opportunity to support IGNITE DAVIE and were eager participants.

IGNITE DAVIE is a Win-Win

Flow’s latest initiative in community involvement comes with their decision to partner with the IGNITE DAVIE College Promise program (IGNITE DAVIE) by becoming an Employer of Choice. Carper and Douglas speak passionately about Flow’s decision to partner with IGNITE DAVIE, emphasizing the company’s belief in investing in a community’s future by empowering its young people. 

“We want to create opportunities for our young people to stay local and to develop their talents here so that they can serve the community that is their home,” said Carper. “So whether that is paving the way for them to be able to go to school in Davie County and have opportunities they may not have otherwise had or opening the door to professional opportunities, internships, and training in our company, we want to do that.”

“We look at partnerships, not sponsorships,” Douglas explained. “Partnerships are relational – it’s a two-way street. It’s a relationship that we can build. And that’s exactly the relationship we want with IGNITE DAVIE- two entities working together to better the community.”

Brian Nicolay, group president of Flow Honda Winston-Salem, and Alex Paschold, group president of Flow in Statesville & Asheville, made the decision to jointly partner with IGNITE DAVIE.

“As a Davie County resident, I am personally and professionally invested in IGNITE DAVIE,” shared Nicolay. 

“I believe the program is a significant asset for our county. At Flow Automotive, our team is wholeheartedly dedicated to supplying the necessary resources to fully support this initiative. We are eager to work with the bright talents that will go through IGNITE DAVIE for years to come.”

Paschold was eager to share his insight as well. 

“At Flow Automotive, we are presented with many partnering opportunities each year. We spend quite a bit of time trying to find the ones that create the biggest impacts within the communities we work. When IGNITE DAVIE approached us, it quickly became evident that this program was almost tailor-made for our company to partner with,” Paschold stated.

“The wholeness of this program is truly overwhelming, and the impact in our communities from a program like this will positively affect our communities for years and generations to come. We are ecstatic about this opportunity and are eager to start this partnership.”

“We believe Ignite Davie has the potential to impact generations of students, and so it is a privilege to partner with IGNITE DAVIE, to create opportunities for growth, for learning, to help young people find their meaning and purpose,” expanded Carper. 

“We all see it as such an obvious endeavor that will do meaningful work for our young people. If we can be a part of creating an opportunity for our young people to have a place to come to work, a place to learn, a place to find out more about who they are and what their purpose is in the workplace, that’s an incredible opportunity and truly a privilege.”

Carper and Douglas emphasized the diverse range of career paths available within Flow, from automotive technology to management services.

“I think that’s the beauty of being in this industry, that there are so many different skill sets we need, so there’s always a place for somebody that wants to grow, whether it’s automotive related or not,” shared Carper.

They stressed that Flow values individuals for their skills and potential, not just their academic credentials. 

“We believe each person brings value regardless of the letters that may be behind their name or what opportunity has been afforded to them previously. So if there’s someone eager to learn or try something, we’re the first to want to coach, teach, train people into opportunities,” said Carper.

An empty conference room located on the upper level of a skyscraper, where Flow Automotive Companies is headquartered, overlooking downtown Winston Salem, NC
Flow’s Headquarters at 500 West 5th Street in Winston Salem house Management Services, the central offices supporting the operations of over 50 dealerships. Professional opportunities at Flow exist in many departments – including marketing, IT, accounting, and human resources.

The Roadmap is Clear: The Future is Bright

Flow Automotive is poised for continued growth while maintaining its core values of integrity, community engagement, and employee development. With initiatives like IGNITE DAVIE, Flow demonstrates its unwavering commitment to serving both its customers and its community.

In an industry often marked by impersonal transactions, Flow Automotive stands out as a shining example of how business can be conducted with integrity and empathy.  Flow Automotive’s dealerships are key employers in any community where they do business; Flow has dealerships in Winston-Salem (Acura, Audi, BMW, BUICK-GMC, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Honda, Lotus, MINI, Subaru, Volkswagen dealers) as well as in Statesville (Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, and Toyota dealers).

To learn more about job opportunities at Flow, visit their Careers page. Flow welcomes inquiries from all interested candidates. Inquiries about career opportunities at Flow Automotive can be directed to Casey Smith at cpsmith@flowauto.com

This article was published with the permission of the author and the original publisher, the Davie County Blog.