Rob Kendrick started out at Bartow Ford at a very early age – in fact, much earlier than anyone might think. His journey began as a small child, when his mom, Hazel Kendrick (Finance and Insurance executive officer), brought him to Bartow Ford every day after school while she finished her shift. “When I was younger, the daycare’s would close at 6, but my mom had to work until 8 or 9 at night,” Rob continued, “she would have to go pick us up from the daycare and we would do homework or sleep on the salesman’s couches until it was time to go.” Rob recalls, as a child, being here for company picnics and other events.
As with most any company, one begins at entry-level positions, working their way up in the company. Rob followed suit with this premise, “I started working in the cleanup department while in high school, and then became a rental agent. After I graduated high school, I started working here full-time. I didn’t want to work here when I was older, at first, because I didn’t want people to think that the only reason I had my job or was successful was because [my mom] made it so.” To his credit, Mr. Kendrick has achieved great success at Bartow Ford.
During his early years of employment, Rob continued to date Lee Ann, his high school sweetheart. Lee Ann eventually took an open position and they worked together briefly before Rob and Lee Ann married. Shortly after, Rob took a leave from Bartow Ford. “I was gone for about 3 or 4 years but then Benny (Robles Sr.) started calling me wanting me to come talk to him,” Rob explained, “I finally decided to come back and I was hired as a Commercial Sales Assistant.”
After 2 years of working in sales, Rob was promoted to Sales Manager. As he recalls, this happened unexpectedly. “I hadn’t been here for long but one of the sales managers that used to work here quit and the day he was supposed to work a night shift he ended up leaving,” Rob continued, “Benny Sr. called me into his office and handed me a key to the dealership saying, ‘The show is yours tonight.’” Needless to say, Rob was nervous and did not know what to expect, but with more experience he has become a refined leader.
10 years later, Rob and his team has led the Commercial/Fleet department, spearheaded changes, applying efficiency and processes that have kept Bartow Ford a leader in the commercial transportation industry.
Many people have inspired him and helped guide him to where he is today. “Bob Ambrose gave me great advice, I value his advice so much, he really helped me through many things,” Rob said. “John Hunt, Herb Duff and Mike Bedenbaugh Jr. are others who I admire and have learned much from, over the years.” The Fleet department added Government Municipal sales two years ago increasing business significantly. “Government Municipal sales have become a large part of our business,” Rob stated, “Most of the businesses we were selling to decreased when the economy crashed and so we had to get resourceful and find other areas to sell – that’s where the municipalities came in to the picture.”
The success of the Commercial Fleet department is attributed to the entire team of commercial sales representatives. Rob commends each one saying, “Success is achieved when you have good, quality people that are trying to achieve 110% of their capability and this sales team has a good set of morals and values which help them build a good rapport with each customer that comes in our doors.” Rob continued by saying that his department always treats their customers like family. “I operate on this premise: If I was selling to my brother or family member, I would make sure they got the best and most honest deal possible – that’s how we want to treat all our customers.”
Rob is not all business. Some of his favorite things to do outside of Bartow Ford are hunting, fishing, and golfing with family and friends. He is involved with the Bartow Chamber of Commerce and coaches Little League baseball.
Benny Robles Sr., President of Bartow Ford, adds, “I have watched Rob grow from a ten-year-old industrious “good boy”, through the formative challenging years of high school, to becoming a successful commercial sales manager at the number one (commercial) Ford store in Florida.” Being homegrown at Bartow Ford turned out to be a very good thing for Rob Kendrick and he continues to find new, innovative ways to keep top status in the commercial and fleet transportation business. Rob says, “There has never been an ‘I’ in team and every member of our team contributes to our great success.”