Herb Chambers is a name you hear all over
radio and television, a name that is synony-
mous with cars because he dominates the
automotive sales business in New England.
But Herb Chambers isn’t just about selling
cars. Herb Chambers is one of the area’s
by Heather Kennaway most successful and enterprising individuals
and there are plenty of good reasons why.
To understand Herb Chambers’ success,
Photographed by Gerry Lerner look back to the beginning. Herb Chambers
went into a car dealership in New London,
Connecticut in 1985 to buy a new Eldorado
Cadillac. “No one there cared about selling
me a car. The lot was dirty, the cars were
dirty and weeds were coming out of cracks,”
says Chambers. He sat in the dealership until
the owner returned from lunch and bought
the dealership outright that same day.
This brief story about Chambers’ entrance
into the automotive sales business explains a
great deal about him. He is a businessman
who sees situations for what they really are,
opportunities. He instantly and instinctively
knows how to make a business better.
“I bought it and turned it around,” says
Chambers of his first dealership. With his
recent acquisition of Foreign Motors West,
he now owns 37 dealerships across New
Although Chambers is a leader in the car
business, it isn’t the business he started in and
it isn’t his first success. He finished service
in the Navy at the age of 21 and got a job
repairing and selling copy machines. He
quickly learned a great deal about the copy
machine business, then a new industry still
in its infancy. He left to start his own copy
company with a mere $1000, $500 of which
he borrowed from his mother. Because Mr.
Chambers has always had a savy business
mind and a way with people, his copy compa-
ny soon grew and became one of the largest
in the nation. It was after numerous mergers
and acquisitions that Chambers decided to
sell the company.
“It was about fear. I grew up in Dorchester
with nothing, and I think you always have
that fear that you may go backwards. I sold
that company for an enormous amount He has since turned his affinity for automo- sales personnel, technicians, administrative
of money so I would never have to worry biles into one of the most flourshing busi- personnel and new parts for the machines.
again,” says Chambers. In retrospect, he nesses in the area. The largest car dealer in Both businesses were all about service.
admitted that he wished he hadn’t sold the New England, Herb Chambers’ dealerships Whether you’re selling cars or copiers, both
company. sell everything from Hondas and Buicks to businesses rely on people to sell them and
Hummers and Porsches. There is a reason consumers to buy them. The businesses are
And although growing up poor in Dorchester why their slogan is “We’ve got it.” Name a about human interaction and service. It is the
may be what caused him to sell his first suc- car and chances are Herb Chambers sells service at Herb Chambers’ dealerships that
cessful business, it may also be what inspired it. As Mr. Chambers sat in that first dealer- set them apart from competitors and makes
his transition in to the automotive industry. ship in New London waiting for the owner them so successful.
“I always had an affinity for automobiles, to return, he says realized that there were
from childhood. I was fascinated with new many similarities to the copy business and Herb Chambers embodies his sales philoso-
cars. Any time someone got a new car, I the car business. In both cases he was selling phy. He instantly makes you feel at ease,
thought they were the richest person in the a tangible product that required ongoing with his welcoming smile and his undeniable
world,” Chambers recalls. maintenance. Both those businesses require charisma. He has a point of view and a pur-
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