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Personal Meets Professional

Siblings and owners of Dick’s Auto Group work together to face the challenges of today’s auto industry and continue a family legacy

Presented by Dick's Auto Group November 1, 2017

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Image: Jason DeSomer

With Dick's Auto Group, business is both personal and professional. Siblings and owners Scott Inukai and Shannon Inukai-Cuffee have carried on their family business with strategic attention to how they work as a team. Their father, Richard “Dick” Inukai, founded the company in 1985 with a single Dodge dealership—which is now a four-store auto group in the Hillsboro/Greater Portland Area that carries eight different brands. Since Dick's passing in 2011, Scott and Shannon have honored his legacy by working together, to continue growing the company he started.

As siblings and business partners, Scott and Shannon treat their relationship with care. Family businesses often come with a set of challenges. To circumvent any obstacles, the two have a secret to working together: Framed on the wall in Shannon's office is a “Sibling Partnership Agreement,” a sort of creed or code of ethics that reminds them how they like to treat each other and how they do business together. “We are sister and brother, brother and sister,” it reads. “We know each other personally and professionally.” The document helps them keep their goals in mind, even specifying that they should set aside time to do leisure activities and business-related activities together, maintaining a balanced work/play relationship.

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Image: Jason DeSomer

One of the pledges in the Sibling Partnership Agreement is especially important to how Shannon and Scott have made Dick's Auto Group successful: “Build on our individual differences and the values we bring to the success of the business.” Shannon excels at the details—making sure all the little things fall together to make the business run smoothly; Scott sees things in a bigger-picture kind of way, coming up with ideas to improve process by laying out numbers and statistical reports.

The siblings capitalize on their strengths, working together to face the challenges of today's auto industry. With innovations in technology evolving rapidly, the process of searching for, buying and even driving a car could change dramatically within the coming years. “These are the challenges that keep me up at night,” says Shannon.

Scott and Shannon work together to stay proactive, attending forward-thinking meetings and trainings, always considering how the future could change their business. As Dick would say, “You don't want to become a dinosaur.”

“We used to laugh at him,” Shannon says. “But he was right. Dinosaurs are extinct for a reason.”

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Image: Jason DeSomer

Another source of pressure in the auto industry is heavy regulation by state and federal agencies. Regulation necessarily protects consumers, but it can be hard on small businesses like Dick's Auto Group. “There are many people looking over our shoulders,” Shannon says. “Even though we are bigger than we used to be, we’re still a small, family-owned business.”

In Dick's day, his struggles in the auto industry were different. “His challenges were more economic in nature,” says Scott. “Challenges like having the capital to do business the way he wanted to. He was on a shoestring when he started.”

In addition, auto manufacturers were struggling to create high-quality cars. Today, Scott says, all manufacturers are making great cars, with product lines to meet virtually every consumer need.

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Image: Jason DeSomer

This is why Dick's Auto Group sells eight different makes of cars, from Dodge to Ford to Hyundai. The latest lineup includes the new F150 Expedition and Eco Sport from Ford, along with a brand-new Honda Civic and the latest Accord soon to follow this year. Perhaps the most exciting new car to hit Dick's Auto this year will be the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, with all-wheel drive and 707 horsepower under the hood.

Dick didn't see cars with that kind of power when he founded the company in 1985. With many car brands reaching this high level of quality, the only dilemma is choosing which one to drive.

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Image: Jason DeSomer

One of Shannon's personal favorites is the Ford Taurus SHO. “It’s super fun to drive,” she says. “I always loved driving that car. It’s all about the performance under the hood.”

“I like them all!” Scott says.

“The real problem is that he can only drive one at a time,” Shannon laughs.

Learn more about Dick’s Auto Group here, or call 503-640-6500.