A name many know, Rich Willis, owns and operates Willis Auto Campus. Located in Clive, it is one of the most successful auto dealerships in Iowa. Although I have been a customer several times, it’s not about the cars but the integrity of the man and his business that sets him apart.
I met Rich 20 years ago at a Clive Chamber of Commerce dinner. From his first handshake, one can tell he cannot contain his enthusiasm for life and care for people.
When plans were being made by Rich to acquire the dealership, his leadership team met to rewrite the mission statement and core values. Each team member was given three post-it notes to write the three most important things in life and stick them on the wall. The most common answer was faith in God.
Rich shared with his team about a nonprofit he had recently heard, Marketplace Chaplains. Based in Texas, they sent chaplains into businesses 365 days a year to provide spiritual care. His team was all in and was the first to bring Marketplace Chaplains services to Iowa.
Twenty years later the most important things have remained constant. The business mission focus and core values have remained – centered on faith, family and community. Also, Marketplace Chaplains continues to faithfully provide spiritual care for team members and their families. Chaplains Wanda Vicker and Bill Wenig have served Willis Auto for more than 10 years each and have relationships with staff who know where they can turn during life’s trials.
When undergoing rough conditions in 2008 and facing difficult choices, Marketplace Chaplains remained since providing care for staff and families was too important.
So what has changed? Despite going through his own trials, the business has grown beyond imagination. Although Willis Auto sells great vehicles and provides exceptional service, at the end of the day it’s about Rich’s relationship with God, employees and their families and customers that matters most. You can see it in the sparkle of his eyes…
Rich Willis began his career at the age of eight, washing cars at his father’s Chevrolet dealership in Delaware. In 1972, while a student at Simpson College, he began working for Betts Cadillac and in 1988, began to purchase the dealership.
In 2008, the name changed to Willis Auto Campus as Lexus and five other brands had been added. The business has continuously served customers and the community for over 67 years.
Rich and his wife, Kim, and their family have supported a wide range of community organizations and causes impacting children and people from all walks of life… generously giving both money and time as leaders. If you ask Rich, serving the community is his biggest success.