Men have dominated the car dealership industry for generations. It has always been rare to see a woman owning a car dealership, much less a woman of color—let alone a Lexus dealership.
So when Ellenae Fairhurst opened her Lexus dealership, she was not just the only black female to own a Lexus dealership, she became the only female ethnic minority to do so. Fairhurst also holds another accolade as well; she is also the first black woman to own an Infinity franchise.
Ellenae’s career in the auto industry began in 1968 as a secretary at the Ford Motor Company. Twenty years later she was awarded her own dealership in Huntsville, Alabama, which she still runs today. Those years in the auto industry paid off for Fairhurst. She clearly knew what she’s doing and increased her sales to the point where she was able to pay off her dealership in eight years—half the 15 it normally takes.
According to Auto Trends, women make 85% of the car-buying decisions in America, yet own only 975 (5%) of the roughly 20,000 new-car dealerships in the United States. Minority women are represented even less, with only 56 dealerships—just over 5% of that 5%. The National Association of Minority Auto Dealers reports that of these 56 dealerships, there are only six black female owners, which amounts to less than 3/1000s of 1% (.0003%) of the total.
Infinity Division Vice President Tom Orbe said this about Fairhurst: “Ellenae is such a vivacious person. She is fully devoted to customer service and ensuring that her customers are treated well and remain happy.”
Fairhurst says of herself, “I’m constantly dealing with customers. My job is to ensure that they are satisfied. And I feel that we do that very well.”