school systems, prisons, and hospitals. I never really made any money in that business, but I learned some valuable lessons that helped propel me in the automobile business.”
Jackson received a master’s degree in finance and marketing from Atlanta University’s Graduate School of Business where he met his wife, Jacki. They got married in 1982, and she eventually joined her husband at Prestige as executive vice president of corporate strategies and business development. “My experience in commercial lending was very good for both of us because I got to see how people made money,” says Jacki, a former vice president for First of America National Bank.
CREATING A SUCCESSION PLAN
Looking ahead, the biggest challenge for Prestige Automotive will be how to respond to the uncertainties of consumer tastes and the changing economy. Diversifying into more car brands is Jackson’s answer to making Prestige more resilient to changing consumer preferences. “We want to have something for everybody, which, from a strategy standpoint, allows us to float better long-term,” he explains.
The key to Prestige’s growth in the past has been its ability to develop a strong, capable management team from within the company. Jackson is guiding Prestige through a stabilization period — strengthening its management team as well as preparing younger family members to be future leaders of the company. “I have several nieces and nephews, in addition to my children, who have expressed an interest in the business and are already working here in some capacity. They are all college students right now,” says Jackson. “I’m hoping that four or five of them actually decide to come into the business.” Jackson is already grooming his daughter, Anika, 20, and his son, Gregory Jr., 16, to assume leadership roles in the company with the ultimate goal of succeeding him in the big chair.
Passing on control of the business to his children makes sense to Jackson. It’s part of his continuing efforts to manage the company’s growth while training the next generation of its leaders. “A lot of my efforts are geared around how I prepare my daughter and son,” he says. “I see my nieces and nephews as future dealers, future chief financial officers, and future vice presidents. But they all will have to earn it.” Jackson is resolute about getting young family members more involved in his operations. He knows that under his direction, they’ll have what it takes to see Prestige Automotive to the next level.