I started out in Port Lavaca with Port Lavaca Ford in 2002. I just love putting a deal together. I love growing and expanding our success, which has turned into 19 dealerships, selling 12 different brands in 10 different cities across Texas
On top of the 19 dealerships, Keating Auto Group consists of an insurance company, Apex Protection, an advertising agency, Tropacaval Media and Viper Exchange. ViperExchange.com is where we sell all of our Vipers. We’ve been the top volume Viper dealer in the nation for the last several years.
We have proven very successful over the years and I enjoy teaching the business to other people. I enjoy the growth that comes from buying dealerships, hiring from within the company, and teaching those individuals how to have their own business and be successful at it. Meet a few members of Keating Auto Group below.
Owner / President
Keating Auto Group
I grew up in the car business. However, I wanted nothing to do with it when I was younger. My understanding of the business was washing cars and picking up trash. Therefore, I went to Texas A&M to get an Engineering degree.
In the summer after my junior year, I worked as an intern for a car dealer consulting company. What I saw during that summer was an industry filled with people who were running great businesses despite the fact that they were not great business people. It was then I decided that if these people were my competition, then THIS was the business for me. Plus, I began to realize how incredibly huge the Auto Industry in our economy. I saw a big opportunity for both proving great service and applying analytical strategy and game theory, which was missing “old-school” dealerships.
I did very well in school. I graduated from the College of Engineering with Honors. I had a great GPA. I could have gotten one of the more coveted jobs. However, I had already made the decision that I was going to go sell cars to learn the business. The year I graduated, the top job offer I ever heard of was $40,000 per year. This was a TON of money at the time, and in my first MONTH as a car salesman I made $11,400. I was rich! It was at this moment that I decided I would come back to hire TAMU grads just like myself to give them the same opportunity.
I sold cars. I eventually became a Used Car Sales Manager. Then, I went on to buy into my father’s dealership and become the General Sales Manager. In March of 2002, I purchased my own dealership. Since then, I have purchased a total of 19 dealerships around the State of Texas. We have grown very quickly. This is not because of me, but because of the incredible people who I have surrounded myself with. They too have grown quickly.
I hired Aggies in 1995, one of which worked his way up through the organization to be a partner in a dealership and run a store by himself. I hired Aggies in 1996, one of which worked his way up through the organization to be the leader and director of our Advertising Agency. I hired Aggies in 1998, one of which is the most respected salespeople in the business. And it goes on and on.
I have been very successful in hiring Aggie grads. I fully realize no one goes to college with aspirations of getting into the car business. However, I believe that is because most people do not realize the opportunity available to them in the car business.
It is very safe to say that most Aggies made $80,000+ in their first year. In fact, many have made $100,000+. I can also say that several were making $180,000+ within their first 5 years. This is not something you will find in big corporate America. Yes, the hours are long, but they are way less than the tremendous hours my friends put in at the accounting firms or consulting companies, and they were all on salary.
We are now generating $1.3 Billion in revenue with around 1,200 people in the organization. We continue to grow organically from the inside, which allows us to continue to operate as a family business.
I believe this opportunity is the best available. This business is competitive, but that is what I love about it. This business is fun. We are a young and vibrant organization full of young and vibrant people. If you think it is a fit for you, I hope that you will give us the opportunity to get to know you better and that you will get to know us better.
Honestly, Tomball Ford was supposed to be a practice interview. I had started looking late because I wasn’t sure I would graduate and I had not been on any interviews except Luby’s and they didn’t like my GPA. Apparently, it takes a 3.5 or better to make their delicious macaroni and cheese. So I showed up in my new suit and shined shoes and sat down with Ben. We interviewed in the press box at Kyle Field. I had 15 minutes with him and then 15 minutes with the general sales manager and another Aggie recruit from 2 years earlier. Ben asked me about going for the win on 4th and goal from the 1 with no time left or kicking the tying field goal and going for overtime. Mind you overtime had just come into existence in college football so it was a fresh question. Anyway, I hit it off with Ben, the other 2 guys thought I was average, but we all went to dinner that night. After dinner, I went home, wrote my thank you letter for the interview(yes, they do get opened and read). Then I drove to the Bryan post office that night and mailed it. Ben got it the next day and knew it wasn’t planned because I mentioned stuff we had talked about in the interview and dinner. They made me an offer within a week and then came the hard part, telling my parents I was considering going into the car business after they just paid for my 4 1/2 years at college to get my bachelor’s degree.
It was a tough sell. My dad seemed disappointed from the start. My mom thought it was going to be too much time and there would be no future in it. 13 years later, they are proud. I am the marketing director for all 7 of our stores and one of only 4-5 people that influence decisions at every store, in just about every department. I have a staff, a great family, and I’ve made great business relationships with people within our organization, people that have worked with us and moved on, and people in the industry of automotive, marketing, and the Internet. I consider myself a“car guy” first and foremost, but I’ve learned how to take those skills to help our organization from a marketing and advertising standpoint.
I was given the opportunity to grow quickly. I was trained, I was given the tools to succeed, and I was rewarded for my achievements accordingly. Is it a traditional career you go to college for? No. Can you make more money than your friends that are still borrowing money to finish a degree that will take them 10 years to repay the loan? Yes. Being an Aggie was a foot in the door, I still had to take advantage of the opportunity. Let’s put it this way, my dad is proud of me now and if I had it to do over again, I’d make the same decision. That’s why we keep coming back to A&M, to give more opportunities for Aggies to succeed. If you have questions about anything, call me at 361-574-8568 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to meeting you to see if we can be a good fit.
2019 update–I’ve been running the ad agency for Keating Auto Group for 13 years now. I get the opportunity to continue my education with practical conferences, alliances with industry experts, and real-world experiments. Every year presents new challenges as the retail, digital,and advertising realms all change frequently. What hasn’t changed is the opportunity to grow, the opportunity to make money, and the opportunity to be a part of something great happening right here in Texas. After 21 years, almost 22 years it is still a great decision
Keating Auto Group
“Dude, I didn’t go to college to be a car salesman.”
I had been out of college for 4 years, had a degree on my wall from Baylor University, but no money in my savings account to show for. All my friends were making $40-50k a year out of school, but little did I know that their pay would remain static over the next 5-10 years at Hewlett Packard, Conoco Phillips, or Lilly Pharmaceuticals. I was a communications major, I wanted to be a salesman, but everyone wanted an experienced salesman for a well paying outside sales job. Four years into my search, through 2 different jobs, I had to make a move. I had been married for 2 years, my wife and I wanted to have kids, and yet we were committed to her desire to stay home and raise them. How could I continue selling marketing goods at a rate of $3,000 to $4,000 a month, keep my wife at home, and pay the bills? I could not, I was stressed, and I saw no light at the end of the tunnel. Life is so expensive. If I could only find the magical $10,000 a month job, life would be easier! On a rainy Thursday afternoon in Houston, Tx I was making the turn off of Loop 610 on to I-10, and I made a phone call to a buddy of mine in the car business, whom I bought my 2004 Taurus from. He said, “Stephen, you should come to sell cars for me.” Inside I chuckled, and my next words I can still hear as clear as day. I responded, “Dude, I didn’t go to college to be a car salesman.”
The next 5 1/2 years have been a blur. I am now the General Sales Manager for three stores in Port Lavaca, TX. Selling a car is my favorite thing to do. I am a sports guy, competitive, and a family man, and the people I work with are like me. I have always been a “people person”, but I had never been able to capitalize on my skillset to make money. I built quick relationships with people, I became their friend in the car business, and I got paid! Everything we do is so tangible, including the immediate gratification of completing a sale within 3-4 hours and making $1000. The hours are long, your weekend plans will look way different, but the return on your investment of time and effort will crush any of your fellow graduates.
There is an incredible opportunity for advancement. If you can become a person who has a high closing ratio, a high gross average, and high customer satisfaction, then you’ll shoot up through the ranks. If you can be the person who just seems to always figure out how to put a deal together, and who can overcome customer objections in a way to where they still love you when it all over, then you will be put into a position to touch more customers. Our goal is to maximize the opportunity we have. Some people are better coaches than they are players. However, even though it may take a little more effort and commitment upfront, we believe that you’ve got to be able to perform the things you are asking your players to do. The fact is that there are people in this business who can just visualize how a car deal is going to come together. We call them “deal makers”.
When people ask what I do for a living I always say; “I sell cars.” From the service technicians, the service advisors, title clerks, our sales professionals; everyone in our organization works and drives toward this common goal. I have been the General Manager of Victoria Dodge since July of 2019 and with the Keating Auto Group since 2011.
I found myself in this business totally by accident. For most of my college career, I knew a job in the automotive industry was my calling and I knew a degree in Mechanical Engineering would put me well on my way to realizing that goal. I had several offers on the table when I took a “practice interview” with the Keating Auto Group. I did not have any desire to sell cars, nor had I given it a second thought. What I discovered during that interview turned my entire career outlook on its head and smashed so many stereotypes and misconceptions about what selling cars is all about; what this company stands for. It is first and foremost a family business built around Aggies strong in their family and their faith. It is fast-moving, growing quickly and the most rewarding business environment anyone could ask for.
Entering into the professional workforce I wanted to be in a position where I could advance quickly, make an immediate impact, and be a part of a highly talented team. I wanted to be in an environment where my skills and efforts-directly impacted my success; not just indirectly. This company has enabled me to meet all of these goals and others in a short period of time. Not only have I been able to be a part of some great teams, but I am now entrusted with building teams of my own and that has been the greatest reward I never expected.
I would encourage anyone, regardless of experience, who is looking for a place to grow and develop professionally to ask about the opportunities available within this group. We are growing at a very fast pace and we want you to be a part of this ride with us.
College Station Hyundai
I got a bachelor’s in Industrial Distribution and a minor in Business Administration from the best university in the nation, Texas A&M. As graduation approached, there was a lot of pressure and anxiety, which is totally normal. I was nervous about trying to find a job of course, but more importantly, the right job.
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my major or my life for that matter. I knew I would probably end up in some type of sales. I had always worked in a sales role in some form or fashion growing up and all through college with some decent success. I like to think of myself as a people person, and that’s really what this business is. It’s about the people.
I actually took the interview here as a practice interview. I had already interviewed with 20-25 other companies and had a few offers on the table. There were a few oil and gas companies in Houston that seemed to coordinate with my major a little more than the car business, and my father is a chemical engineer, so naturally, I was drawn in that direction. However, once I did the interview and met Ben Keating, the owner of the company, it made me really reconsider and put a massive kink in my plans.
It’s not often you interview with the actual owner of the company. It’s definitely the only time it’s ever happened to me, and that really stood out. In addition, the other partners presented themselves as really down-to-earth guys and made me feel very comfortable throughout the entire process.
One of the main reasons I accepted the position was for the opportunity for immediate impact, not only for the company but also in my own personal life. I’ve been able to grow and develop at a rate that I never expected. The offer was compelling, with no true limitations, and it’s been more than held to. I’ve been working for the company for over 6 years now and wouldn’t change a thing.
It’s all about relationships. If you’re able to carry on a conversation, find something you can genuinely relate to, and establish trust, then you’re going to be successful. This organization isn’t going to reach out to you if they aren’t convinced that you already have what it takes to be successful in this business. They give you the tools, the training, and the confidence to create your own path. Most recruits that accept these offers and come to work for the Keating Auto Group see the same success with the company that I have, if not more.
I took the opportunity and I ran with it, and it’s been nothing but a blessing. I started out selling cars in 2013 in Victoria, TX. Since then, I’ve worked at a multitude of stores, in various cities across the state, and worn many different hats. Toyota, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, BMW, Mazda, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Ford and Lincoln. Salesman, Floor Manager, Finance Manager, Sales Manager, General Sales Manager and now, I’m currently the General Manager at College Station Hyundai. Despite the changes in location, brand, and role, one thing has always stayed constant. The people. It has remained, and will always be, all about the people.
I’m looking forward to meeting the new recruits and further discussing this amazing opportunity.
Port Lavaca Chevrolet
Like most of the other guys that have entered the Keating Auto Group program, I kind of fell into it. In December of 2011, I found myself on the verge of graduating with my bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M, and on the hunt for my future career. At that time, I came across the opportunity on hireaggies.com and decided to apply for an interview. I honestly only had the intention to sharpen my interviewing skills and investigate just what they had to offer. Arriving there with some time to spare, I was able to meet with Stephen Livesay before my interview. The conversation with him, along with my interview with Mr. Keating, left me with a great sense that I had found a company that was offering exactly what I was looking for; a career with room to progress within a fast-growing organization and an opportunity to make six figures. This was so surreal being that I was straight out of college! For just a moment, I hesitated. A four-year degree… and now to sell cars? Still, I felt like I had to pursue the chance to make money. That is, after all, why I sought to get a degree in the first place.
In January of 2012, I started selling cars down in BOOMING Port Lavaca and I’m still going strong entering 2020. It has been a crazy and fun journey with this company, and I’m extremely glad I jumped-onboard when the opportunity presented itself. Starting as a salesperson, especially in this organization, gives you a firsthand experience at essentially running your own business. For four years I managed my own customer base on the sales floor, growing year over year. Since then I have been given the opportunity to grow into a role as a Finance Manager and now a Sales Manager. I get to help the salesmen, like I once was, become successful month after month. The competitive nature of the business, building and maintaining long-lasting relationships with customers, and getting highly compensated for the genuine effort through it all, has benefited me greatly. Over the years I have been able to pay off student loans, purchase a beautiful home, and provide for my family the way I have always wanted to.
Every year we get the chance to host career fairs in Aggieland and I tell each student I come across the same thing. If you’re willing to put in the effort, along with their internal drive, the culture and processes of this organization will help mold you into a very successful business professional. The Keating Auto Group believes in developing its people from the ground up and your success means their success. I’m proud to have benefited from their coaching and direction that has led me to be as successful as I am. Eight years later, and I’m still excited to see what the future holds as we continue to progress and grow.
I am writing this after 20 successful years leading our dealership in sales and let me tell you that this time has been awesome! Howdy fellow Aggies and future coworkers! My name is Jorge Lopez, your sales consultant, at Tomball Ford and I am a class of 1999, WHOOP! Wholeheartedly, I invite you to consider becoming part of the Keating Auto Group
My story dates to high school graduation in 1995 where I was excited to attend and start my future with Texas A&M. During my sophomore year in college, I knew that business was in my blood. Profit and loss, customer service and not being afraid to get compensated solely on my performance proved this. The senior year, as you might relate, was very hectic. From getting your resume straight to having your formal work interviews lined up, to worrying about being on your own “out in the world” was tough. And to be honest with you, I was not considering or even thinking about the car business my last year at Texas A&M. I mean, I do not think anyone going to college does, right? But I decided to inquire about a dealership that was interviewing for a sales position and that is when Tomball Ford came in. In 1999 I interviewed with Ben Keating and a few folks from Tomball Ford that are still with the organization today and decided to give this business a try. But of course, the opportunity to grow, the ability to help others, and the financial reward was the goal with this venture. So, my journey in this fulfilling career started on January 1, 2000.
Fast forward to now; I am excited to tell you that decision made in 1999 was not a mistake. I started with Tomball Ford and have been here ever since. I love the brand and it has been great to me. Yes, there have been many opportunities to grow into management and other parts of the organization, but I cannot do it. Why? Because I enjoy what I do, and it completes me. I love the fact that I can help and consult clients on what and how to buy our vehicles. It is super rewarding to get a “thank you, you did awesomely”, “I was not thinking about buying a vehicle today until I met you” or “Jorge, you made this process extremely easy”. That right there is fulfilling and if you have that care about genuinely helping your client then I promise the financial reward will be there 10X. The possibility of making someone’s yearly salary in one month in the car business is at hand! Thankfully, I have been successful in what I do, and I believe it has come this way because of how much effort I put in selling myself and my brand. And with all this work, my reward is that I can have my own work schedule which allows plenty of time with my family and of course what you are more interested in; financial compensation. This opportunity has been allowing my family and I to have what we have and humbled to say that I am able to live very comfortably. So, I am very fortunate to be part of Tomball Ford and the Keating Auto Group.
Anyone that starts their career with the Keating Auto group will start where I have been for over 20 years. And let me tell you that if upper management is where you want to end up; the opportunity is there. But I encourage you to analyze yourself. Do you have self-motivation, that drive that pushes you to earn what you are worth, but of course do you care to take care of your client? If so, these are the qualities that I feel made me a successful sales consultant at Tomball Ford.
So, in closing, I want to share with you that you too can be telling your success story here with us telling the truth about how your life changed for the better. The Keating Auto Group is a great company to work for and Ben Keating has been an awesome owner and person to be a part of. Each of his dealerships has great quality management that will help and guide you through your career. So, do not hesitate in becoming part of us, The Keating Auto Group. Thank you for reading a summary of my story and do hope to help you if I can.
College Station Ford
Like most of us, when I came out of college I had no clue what to do. I had just spent the last 4 years of my life with structure and routine and suddenly felt completely lost.
I moved from Klein Texas all the way up to the middle of nowhere Nebraska so that I could get a degree but also wrestle at the collegiate level (the only reason for leaving Texas). I started college with the intent of becoming a High School wrestling coach. I quickly realized that while wrestling was my passion, I also wanted a job that got me paid! I switched my major to pre-med and worked my butt off the next 3 years until graduation. Like most of us, as soon as graduation was over I knew that I never wanted to look at another textbook again. Realizing that I would never make it all the way through med-school without dropping out, I found myself holding a fairly useless and extremely expensive degree in my hands. “What do I do now?”
Luckily for me, one of my older brothers had been working for the Keating Auto Group for somewhere around a decade by the time I graduated from college. He wasn’t able to get me a job, but he was willing to get me an interview with his boss. Things went well and I was told that the company had just started a “college grad training program” that I was going to jump into. Six weeks later, I was selling cars in BOOMING Port Lavaca.
That doesn’t tell you anything about the emotions and feelings, the apprehensions I had about becoming a “car guy.” As one of my mentors in the car business says, “I didn’t go to college to sell cars!” I couldn’t have said it better myself. If we are being honest, no one grows up with dreams and aspirations of one day becoming a car salesman. It just doesn’t happen that way. However, after watching the type of life the car business was able to provide my brother and his family, I knew that there was an opportunity to make LOTS of money. But still, what about the stigma that goes with being a car salesman, this made me nervous.
The money is the most obvious and natural attraction to the car business. With a willingness to work hard and follow the process, a first-year car salesman can make enough money to make their friends very jealous! But everyone else has already told you that. The two things I love most about the car business and specifically, the Keating Auto Group, are the opportunities for advancement and the way we conduct our business as professionals.
Within the first 8 months of selling cars I found myself as a Finance Manager. 6 months later, I was a Sales Manager. Things happened extremely quickly for me because of my willingness to work extremely hard and in a trustworthy and honest way. I, along with several others, am the perfect example of the opportunities this organization creates for people. This has allowed me to make way more money than any doctor in their first 10 years of practice.
Second, and probably the most important to me, the Keating Auto Group strives to change the negative stigma that has followed the car business in the last 40 years. We operate our business with the mindset that making happy customers is the best practice. Obviously we are all here to make money, but we never want to make everything about the bottom line. This has become the major reason for wanting to continue my career with the Keating Auto Group. Not only do they take great care of their customers, they also truly care about their employees. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better job, workplace, and career.
College Station Hyundai
“I never thought about the car business as a career I’d be in after graduating from Texas A&M, but I’m so glad I gave it a try and now I wish I would’ve started in the car business sooner!”
I joined the Keating Auto Group after spending two years in Houston working in Sales in a different industry. I love making relationships with different people and coming up with solutions to any problems my customers are having. A relationship I formed in college is exactly how I found myself in the Keating Auto Group, to begin with! I’m a car guy deep down. I enjoy car shows, race events, and anything else that involves automobiles. So, when I decided to reach out to a buddy already in the auto group, I figured if I enjoyed everything to do with automobiles, maybe I would be good at selling them, so I gave it a try.
My first month in the business, I sold 15 cars and was immediately hooked! Each and every customer I met and helped, made me feel so much satisfaction because I was finally helping someone and seeing the results immediately unlike my last job. I had finally found my niche! I just LOVE selling cars! Fast forward 5 years and I’m now a Sales & Finance Manager at our newest store, College Station Hyundai. The car business has changed my life since day 1 and when I look back on my time I’ve spent with the Keating Auto Group, I’m completely satisfied with my choice to get into the car business and more specifically, the Keating Auto Group.
Corporate Human Resources
Keating Auto Group
I graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Development in May 2017. As my internship with College Station Ford was coming to an end and graduation was approaching, I planned to begin my job search and find my career. I found out it’s a lot easier said than done. After applying and interviewing for several positions, I soon realized finding a perfect job was more difficult than I had expected, so I focused on taking the next steps to getting a master’s degree.
Sometimes life doesn’t always go as planned and in my case, that wasn’t a bad thing. Fast forward one month and I was sitting in the Keating Auto Group corporate office interviewing with Ben, Don, and Stephen for the Corporate Human Resources position. After the interview, I knew I found the job I had been looking for and I couldn’t wait to be a part of their team. Each and every day I learn more than I can imagine and gain experience that I could not have found anywhere else. I am very thankful for the opportunity Keating Auto Group gave me right out of college. I look forward to watching this company grow and I am excited to add more Aggie success stories to the Keating Auto Group
My first experience in the car business was a part-time job as a mechanic. I loved cars, loved working on cars, but never thought about the industry as a career. I studied Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M, which brought an opportunity for many different career paths. I never once thought that it would bring me back to the car business, but it turned out to be the best decision I ever made.
Like many other students, weighing my options seems like a difficult choice. Interview after interview that all felt the same. My senior year, I had the opportunity to work on a project with the Keating Auto Group and dive headfirst into the sales process with leadership from across the whole company. I learned “enough” about the company to know that I was hooked. I accepted an opportunity without hesitation, and it turned out to be everything I wanted and more.
I am working as a Finance Manager for the organization at our Victoria Dodge location. The Keating Auto Group focuses heavily on personal development and training. I have been given the resources and hands-on experience with the best in the industry that you cannot get anywhere else. There is an opportunity to grow here, and the opportunity to grow fast. Our business is growing rapidly and there is no ceiling for talented people.
I have found my home within this company and look forward to the opportunity that it brings. I look forward to meeting new recruits and seeing where this company will take you