Kimberley Zacharias has been in the business of selling cars for more than half of her life but seems to have found a home at Kuni Lexus of Colorado Springs. The 39-year-old New Mexico native, who has been with the company for six years, was recently promoted to general sales manager. In her new position, she oversees the dealership’s day-to-day sales operations and essentially makes sure cars keep rolling off the lot — and she does it all atop her role as the single mother of a 4-year-old boy. Zacharias took time from her busy schedule this week to talk to the Business Journal about her role at Kuni and the dealership’s role in the Colorado Springs community.
When did your career in the automotive industry begin?
I got into the business at a very young age — I was 18 and it was almost by mistake. I was going to college and looking for a part-time job, so I started at a Ford dealership doing administrative work. Once I got out, I did juvenile probation for a while and figured out that my passion was in the car business. So I moved to Colorado to work for a General Motors dealer out here and now I’ve been with Lexus for six years.
How did you become general sales manager?
I originally interviewed for a finance position because that was my background for the largest portion of my career. So I interviewed for that position, got hired on as a sales manager because of my background in the finance department and worked my way up to becoming general sales manager not quite a year ago.
What originally brought you to Colorado?
I had a family member who was living here and it was the time when I was working in juvenile probation. I just knew that it wasn’t for me and that I wanted to get back into the car business. So I came to visit and loved it, and now I’ve been here for 16 years. I love the trees and the mountains and all that Colorado Springs has to offer.
How do you spend your time away from work?
I have a 4-year-old boy who keeps me very busy, and I’m usually working when I’m not working — we’re all constantly connected with smartphones now — but I try to devote my time to him.
What makes Kuni a good company to work for?
I’ve worked for a lot of different automotive organizations, and Kuni is by far the best. I don’t say that because I’m employed here … Kuni was founded on “You take care of the employee, the employee will take care of the guest, the guest will take care of the bottom line.” That is truly how we live, and that was Wayne Kuni’s quote that lives on through all of their dealerships. We’re also an automotive organization that gives back: Every dealership that they own gives back to the community in some way.
Are you involved with the young professional community in the Springs?
I actually live in Pueblo, but I need to get more involved here. I need to network more, and I’m going to. I have this niche that I’m involved with in Pueblo, but I know that I need to have that same connection with Colorado Springs.
What are your professional goals and aspirations?
My goal right now is to continue to grow this store in the Colorado Springs community. My future goal is to be a partner with Kuni Automotive. … I’m not OK with being general sales manager for the rest of my life — I’m always looking toward the next level.
Can you tell me about Kuni’s philanthropic and community involvement?
Each individual dealership is involved in its own way with giving back to the community. Kuni Lexus of Colorado Springs is heavily involved in Ronald McDonald House charities, Goodwill … and the Kuni Automotive Foundation gives a lot to further medical research.
How do those values affect Kuni’s business practices?
I think in any business that you should take care of your employees, and so many businesses fail in that sense. … We try to make every day personal, and have respect for what people have going on in their lives, and make sure that everybody is OK. And if we can give something back, we will.
To what do you attribute your success in the automotive industry?
This business is very much a man’s world. I’ll say that I had some men doubt that I could do it and doubt that I could be successful, but that was my motivation to show not just them but myself that I could do it.
People always say that if you work hard, you’ll get there — it’s true. I feel like as a woman I sometimes have to work harder and push harder, but that’s what I’m willing to do.