When Dr. Gerald “Doc” Hollingsworth founded Quality Imports in 1968, he had already delivered thousands of babies as a successful general practitioner in Fort Walton Beach near Destin. Little did he know that his labor of love, his car dealership, would become his most prodigious business and a source of great satisfaction in a long standing, distinguished career.
For Dr. Hollingsworth, a graduate of Ole Miss in 1951 and one of the youngest graduates ever of Harvard Medical School in 1955, it all goes back to his childhood where his life revolved around cars.
“I always loved everything about automobiles – the sight, sound and smell, the thrill of being able to be transported from one place to another. It was a lot better than a horse and buggy!” exclaims Dr. Hollingsworth, who helped his father sell cars door to door, as it was done in the 1940s, before modern dealerships became the norm.
When he started Quality Imports in 1968, Dr. Hollingsworth had three employees, including his loyal receptionist, Jo Alice Chalk, who became the first general manager of the dealership.
Fast forward 44 years later, and Dr. Hollingsworth’
“Integrity is the basis of all customer decisions. We are fortunate to have the benefit of the best people in our industry working for us for a long time,” says Matt Marsteller, vice-president and general manager of Quality Imports, who, with tenure of 19 years, could be considered a short-timer.
It is that thread of consistent leadership and integrity that originated with Dr. Hollingsworth that remains at the heart of the success and sustainability of a business that has survived many a bump in the road.
Dr. Hollingsworth says his key to success lay in offering extremely good products and attracting outstanding people who enjoy selling the products. His business philosophy for the car business is the same as it is for his medical practice.
“Treat patients the way you want your family to be treated and treat customers the way you would want to be treated,” says Dr. Hollingsworth.
He founded Quality Imports with the Toyota brand of cars after volunteering with Project Hope to provided medical care in war torn areas of Vietnam in 1968. In return for his medical services, Dr. Hollingsworth was given a roof over his head, food rations and a small 4-cylinder vehicle to traverse the terrain. The car was a Toyota product called a Toyopet and he was impressed with the durability and gas mileage of the car.
After returning to Fort Walton Beach Destin, the first gas shortage hit the country and Dr. Hollingsworth felt there would be an interest in smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. So he did what any self-respecting medical practitioner would do: he wrote a letter to the Toyota company inquiring about opening a dealership.
“To my great surprise, they sent a representative to talk to me,” says Dr. Hollingsworth.
And the rest is history.
Today, Quality Imports proudly sells Mercedes Benz, BMW, Mazda, Scion brands in addition to top-selling Toyota.
“Selling cars is the most fun I’ve ever had and also the most challenging,”
Quality Imports Mercedes believes in giving back to the community that has been so good to them. Within their business stewardship they support many community organizations and causes, including military fundraising events, high school programs, food drives, children’s services and art organizations.
For the rest of the story of Quality Mercedes, visit www.qualitymercedes.com
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Mercedes Dealer in Florida located in Fort Walton Beach serving Destin, 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, Panama City, Panama City Beach and Tallahasse.