Darrel Finnicum: Becoming One of Southwest Georgia's Most Successful Business Stories

How it all began...

The story of Darrel Finnicum and how his Finnicum Motor Company came to be is one of faith, determination, trust, and grit.

A chance meeting between an 18 year-old Finnicum and the father of close friend is where it all began.

"I'd dropped out of high school and was delivering pizzas when my friend Traci Ford introduced me to her dad, Dean," Finnicum said. "He asked me why I didn't go back to school, and I told him I'd be embarrassed to be an 18-year-old freshman. I told him I'd catch all kinds of grief because I would be 20 or 21 before I graduated. He said, 'You're going to be 20 or 21 anyway, so you might as well spend that time finishing school.' I promised him I'd finish."

Meet Mike McVey...

That meeting changed Finnicum's outlook on life, and two decades later, he is the owner of three of southwest Georgia's most successful and respected car dealerships, with locations in Americus, Leesburg, and Albany.

If you ask Finnicum the keys to his success, he will undoubtedly tell you that one of them is the relationships that he has built along the way. One of which was with business partner and former Marine Mike McVey.

"Of course the most important thing is the bond Darrel and I have built," said McVey. "We're not only business partners, were also best friends."

"If God wouldn't have brought Mike into my life and into Finnicum Motor Company, and Mike didn't keep his word when he was ready to look for something else, you and I wouldn't be talking now, there would be no Finnicum Motor Company," Finnicum continued.

“Where a handshake still means something.”

McVey, who had no prior automotive experience, became good friends with Finnicum after purchasing a car from him. It was McVey who helped to spread the word around the region that Finnicum was a straight shooter and a businessman with integrity. Later, even after becoming business partners, they still hold true to the motto:"Where a handshake still means something."

"I decided to give selling a try because Darrel was someone I could trust," McVey said. "Even before he made me a partner, he allowed me to treat the business as if it was my own. He created an environment where there was a great deal of trust."

Their 10 car dealership soon became an 80 car dealership…and that was just the beginning.

The early years...

In a 2017 article published in the The Albany Herald, Finnicum recounts that he really didn't have much of a plan for his career when he graduated from Westover High School in 1991.

"I'd always heard there was good money in selling cars," he said. "I was 22 with no training, but I said what the heck. I got out the phone book, looked up Carl Gregory's Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, & Ram dealership phone number, called and asked if they were hiring. They gave me a job, and I found that I liked it. I liked talking with people"

Shortly after, he joined the team at Fairway Toyota, and then eventually his own lot. But that took some serious funding.

"I went to Mr. Ford, told him what I wanted to do, showed him my business plan," stated Finnicum in the article. "He told me that he'd front me the money but that I would have to pay a certain amount of interest and pay everything off by a certain time. I told him I could do that, and he loaned me the money. I think one of the proudest things in my career was when I was able to pay the loan off and keep my word."

Anthony Jenkins: Paying attention to the details

After the dealership started to grow, Finnicum made one of what he calls his wisest business decisions...he hired Anthony Jenkins as his detailer.

Jenkins was working at a local car wash at the time, and had established a reputation for producing some of the cleanest cars around.

"I was a little nervous about leaving a job I'd been at for five years, but I soon knew I'd made the right choice. Working for Darrel and Mike has been like working with family. I see them more as brothers, and they have always pushed me to bring my A game to the business."

Overcoming challenges

No successful business goes without challenges, and Finnicum Motor Co. has dealt with its own. When the recession hit around 2009, Finnicum and McVey almost lost the dealership they were running.

"The recession was bad enough, but I had personal issues, too. I went through a divorce and became depressed. I was so fortunate that Mike and Alicia Shiver, who ran the office, were there at that time, because even though I was present, my mind was not," stated Finnicum.

"But Mike basically took the reins of the dealership, and we battled through it for the next couple of years. We definitely were on the verge of going under."

With McVey at the helm, Finnicum Motor Company weathered the storm, and soon after, Finnicum gave McVey a 20 percent share in the dealership. Later, in 2014, McVey was upped to a 50 percent stake in the business.

"I will always remain humble," Finnicum told the paper, "so I don't want this to sound like I'm bragging. But I want us to be the very best dealership around. I want us to continue to grow throughout the region, but I always want us to remain humble and remember that no matter how big we might or might not get, a handshake will always mean something at Finnicum Motor Company."

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  1. Finnicum Motor Company Leesburg

    1372 US Highway 19 S
    Leesburg, GA 31763

    • Sales: 229-446-9960
  2. Finnicum Motor Company of Americus

    1016B S Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
    Americus, GA 31719

    • Sales: 229-380-4090
  3. Finnicum Motor Company of Albany

    1425 US-82
    Leesburg, GA 31763

    • Sales: 229-405-3449
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