Ralph Lauren Corp. experience helps shape auto retail strategies

Growing up in suburban Detroit, dealer Katie Bowman Coleman lived too far from her dad’s rural dealership to work summers there. Instead she sold clothes, which interested her far more than cars anyway. Coleman, now president of Bowman Chevrolet in Clarkston, Mich, says she watched her dad go through a lot of hard knocks in the car business. That was influential to making her think she was not sure she wanted to go into that business. But she was always interested in retail and she liked fashion.

So Coleman pursued a fashion career that led her to New York and Australia. But in 1993, when she returned to her roots in auto retailing, she applied lessons from the fashion world to the car business. For example, she display-ed cars the same way that she arranged shirts in a store and promoted online retailing before it became a trend in autos. Her skills have helped turn her father’s store into one of the fastest-growing Chevrolet dealerships in Michigan in new-vehicle sales. Coleman says she has a passion for customer service. Read more

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