When he arrived in Boston from the Dominican Republic 20 years ago, Jose Oliver had the clothes on his back and $70 in his pocket. This month, he achieved his American dream when he bought his own business, the former Rutland Subaru in Vermont, made possible thanks to a team that recognized his potential.
Oliver’s purchase of the dealership, now called Oliver Subaru, from its most recent owner was brokered by Nancy Phillips Associates of Exeter, New Hampshire. The company handles the sale of auto dealerships throughout New England and New York and works exclusively with major auto dealers and auto dealership groups from around the country. With the support and advocacy of Nancy Phillips Associates in conjunction with Live Oak Bank, JP Morgan Chase Bank and Subaru New England, Oliver is now the incredibly proud owner of his first dealership.
“In today’s business climate this type of story is rare because there are so many barriers to entry, primarily the capital investment and financing and to Jose’s credit, he had that lined up,” said Bryan Dumais, Vice President, Market Development for Subaru New England. “We supported him because we knew of him, he’s worked with Subaru, he had a good reputation, and he did his research. Quite honestly, we’ve been successful as a family business for over 50 years because of the concept of single store operators like Jose.”
Connor Duncan, VP of Dealer Operations for Live Oak Bank, served as the lender for the transaction and was immediately impressed with Oliver when they first spoke in January of 2022. “At Live Oak Bank, we have a few mantras that have permeated our culture throughout the years. One of those is to identify those people who have the ‘eye of the tiger’ meaning they embody a certain grit and tenacity as to how they go about their business,” he said. “Jose’s passion was evident, and it was clear that he would continue to persevere in order to attain that singular important goal he had set when he first got into the car business – buy a store and become a dealer principal.”
Oliver, 41, was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to Massachusetts in 2001 where his mother was already living. He worked multiple jobs as he put himself through school to become a civil engineer but as he prepared to graduate, he found the only jobs were desk jobs that didn’t fit with his personality. “I’m a people person,” he said.
His decision to pursue a sales job in 2006 at Auto Fair Honda in Manchester changed his course. “From the moment I started my career in the car business, I wanted to own my own dealership, but everybody told me it would never happen for someone from my socioeconomic background who moved here from another country and didn’t have the resources,” he said. Undeterred, he went back to school and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a minor in accounting from Southern New Hampshire University in 2015. He finished his degree while working 60 hours a week at his dealership job with a newborn child at home. “Then I started researching what it takes to get to the next step,” he said.
He completed a one-year general manager training program and got his first GM position at Auto Fair Subaru of Haverhill where he worked 362 days his first year. Most recently he was the General Manager of Twin City Subaru in Berlin, Vermont.
When he began reaching out to auto dealership brokers and franchisors to ask how he could buy a dealership, most of his calls were not returned or the response wasn’t encouraging. After connecting with Nancy Phillips in the winter of 2022, with the benefit of Live Oak as lender, the tide started to turn for Oliver.
“Nancy was the only broker that took the time to sit down with me and tell me what we needed to do to get this accomplished,” Oliver said. “She delivered the perfect dealership located near where I lived in Vermont and helped me through every step of the acquisition. It was an enormous challenge for her as well as for me and without her perseverance and my determination, this would not have come to pass.” Phillips said her company prides itself on having the distinct ability to find the right candidate for every dealership transaction as well as identifying those like Oliver who possess the tenacity and drive to succeed in business.
“First and foremost, that individual must be a top producer with a track record of success as a dealer or general manager who the franchisor will be excited to do business with. Secondly, it is a person with solid funding in place or the ability to get there. Jose met the first criteria. While the second was certainly a challenge, I believed in Jose, and I was convinced by Connor Duncan at Live Oak that they did too,” Phillips explained.
Oliver is thrilled to bring his approach to car sales to his new dealership and thankful to those who helped on his journey. “It was a lot of hard work and the biggest thing for me is to never listen to the naysayers. If you believe in it and yourself and you are willing to work harder than you ever have before to achieve it, then then go after it,” he said.
Oliver lives with his wife Claudia and their children in the community his dealership serves. Oliver is immensely grateful for the support of his wife and his mother. The family and the dealership have embraced their community and are committed to giving back to the people they share the beautiful state of Vermont with.