Once upon a time, the world was inundated with evil doers. Ok, perhaps not inundated, and maybe not the whole world, but evil doers in the car business?  Most definitely.

Which is why when I saw a social media post by Shaun Raines, it gave me cause to pause.  As a direct result of a glorious parting gift from his previous employer known as a non-compete, my long-time friend was announcing a change in direction professionally. Shaun had been swimming in shark-infested, legal waters, when an incredible idea was born.

Since he wasn’t going to be allowed to use his experience and talents (dare I say, “superpowers”) to help other companies thrive, he could build a powerful weapon in the shadows, while the legal clock wound-down.  And that’s exactly what he was posting about…a new company, created to do good, where good is sometimes hard to find in our industry.  Dealer SuperHero was born from the ashes of the absurd.

Now if you know Shaun Raines, you know these three things are unwaveringly true:

  1. He cares.

  2. It all matters to him.

  3. He always tries to do the right thing.

For those who don’t, in a nut-shell, Shaun is part Rockstar, part Internetologist.  He has a panache for telling the right story, mixed with a ‘customer-centric, always-do-the-right-thing’ mentality.  I learned this first-hand about 2 decades ago, when Shaun and I found ourselves working together at Reynolds & Reynolds and have been close friends ever since.

Early in our friendship, we knew there would come a time when we had to escape corporate bonds and do our own thing.  Initially, that 'thing' was the beginnings of what eventually became Dealer Advisor. We had a few minor wins, but life got in the way and corporate America won us both back.  Nevertheless, a fire had been ignited.

Fast forward to the past couple years, where I had left the glitz and glamour of my Fortune 500 President’s Club, sales management role to go back into the automotive retail world to prove I could effectively deploy the mojo I was pushing.  I did. I still can. But as 2018 began to wind down, I was reminded why I left the showroom in the first place.

Turns out, the universe was trying to bring us together again, as we were both exploring what's next.

So, I called Shaun to ask him what was going on, whose feelings he'd hurt and what the hell was up with this caped-crusader-themed startup.  Dealer SuperHero? Who would take his talent, connections and years of experience seriously with a name like that?

Shaun said, "Only those who want something truly different."


He continued on, saying, "I like to look at it like this:  the car business is full of evil-deed-doers. Some are consultants, some vendors and some are the dealer's themselves.  We need a company who champions for the good and the just. For those who are driven to do the right thing. In a world where transparency has become cliche, I want to work with those who still believe.  I want to put the industry on notice that someone is watching. Surveying. Vigilant."

Ok, I get it.  I like it and understand the references completely.  But I had to ask, “Wasn't there a better option to convey your inspired vision other than, Dealer SuperHero?”

"Not at all.”  Shaun explained.  “Not after you’ve seen the garbage being pushed on good businessmen by unscrupulous vendors just because dealers don't understand the technology.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars...HELL probably millions of dollars, are wasted every month on crap. On duplication of effort. On zero-return investments.  What better description than that of ‘superhero’ could describe exactly what I want to do for our industry? There is a need for a superhero. My company will be the dealer's superhero."

With all the passion and none of the Jim Jones kool-aid, I was hooked.  I was a believer. I brought my unique talents, experience and sense of humor to the team.  There will be wool suited warriors with silk ties, snaffle-bit shoes and Wall Street swag who may scoff at the Dealer SuperHero brand.  Potentially there will be those who attribute the reference solely to Marvel or Disney or whatever. Perhaps, we may get an Adam West reference somewhere down the road.  It really doesn't matter as long as there are dealers to save and charlatans to banish. Dealer SuperHero will be there. Vigilant. Surveying.

Who knows, maybe someday I may be able to fly.  Probably not, but that won’t stop me or the entire Dealer SuperHero team from trying to save the world, one car dealer at a time.

Cary D. SmithComment