Rick Hendrick is a self-described "gearhead" who turned his passion for the automobiles into successful business ventures in the retail automotive and professional auto racing industries.
Raised on a farm near the small community of Palmer Springs, Virginia, Hendrick worked on and raced cars under the watchful eye of his father, "Papa Joe." After high school, he pursued a co-op work-study program with North Carolina State University and Westinghouse Electric Company in Raleigh, North Carolina.
While in Raleigh, Hendrick opened a small used-car lot with established dealer Mike Leith. Its success convinced Leith to name him general sales manager of his new-car import operation at the age of 23.
In 1976, Hendrick sold off his assets to purchase a struggling franchise in Bennettsville, South Carolina, thus becoming, at 26, the youngest Chevrolet dealer in the United States. His influence sparked a dramatic sales increase as the once troubled location soon became the region's most profitable.
These triumphs paved the way for Hendrick to purchase Charlotte, North Carolina-based City Chevrolet. Under Hendrick's leadership, the dealership became the No. 1 volume Chevrolet franchise throughout North Carolina and South Carolina.
In late 1979, despite strong in-market competition, Hendrick built the first free-standing Honda dealership in Columbia, South Carolina. The location was a showcase for Honda, promoting it as the manufacturer's premiere dealership on the east coast and a future facility benchmark.
Bennettsville's success was also a precursor to Hendrick Automotive Group, a company that would be built on the winning foundation Hendrick established during this period of time. A culture built on a strong set of core values: teamwork through trust and respect; integrity; commitment to customer enthusiasm; passion for winning; accountability at all levels. servant leadership, and commitment to continuous improvement.
From 1980 to 1983, Hendrick added franchises representing Audi, BMW, Isuzu, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. Hendrick expanded its Honda franchise portfolio during this time as well, opening in Charleston, South Carolina for the first time in 1980 and entering the state of California with Hendrick's first West Coast dealership in 1983.
Hendrick Motorsports was founded in 1984, first competing at the highest levels of NASCAR with driver Geoff Bodine. Legendary crew chief Harry Hyde helped guide the team to three victories that inaugural season.
In 1985, Hendrick became the first to own and operate multiple General Motors franchises, entering Florida for the first time through the opening of Harbor Chevrolet in Tampa. Later that year, Hendrick took over a financially challenged multi-nameplate location in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Re-opening as Performance Chevrolet/BMW/Subaru, it became the company's first dealership located in the key adjacent central North Carolina marketplaces of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary.
Hendrick also ventured into the North Atlanta marketplace in 1985, operating Gwinnett Place Honda in Georgia.
The latter part of the decade saw a tremendous amount of expansion for the company, accumulating four dealership franchises in 1986; 10 in 1987 and 15 in 1988 while adding nameplates including Buick, GMC, Acura and Lexus. Among these new locations, Honda Cars of McKinney (1987) became the first Hendrick Automotive Group dealership opened in the state of Texas.
This period of expansion also included Hendrick partnering with NASCAR drivers Darrell Waltrip to open Darrell Waltrip Honda (1986) in Franklin, Tennessee and Terry Labonte in opening Terry Labonte Chevrolet (1988) in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Expansion continued into the 1990s, which included the opening of Hendrick Honda Woodbridge in 1992, the first Hendrick Automotive Group franchise in Virginia.
In 1992, Hendrick Automotive Group started operating within Kansas City, opening two dealerships on the Kansas side of the city; and one in Missouri, beginning two years of expansion in the area. Within that same timeframe, the company also expanded its reach in both Northern and Southern California. Hendrick Automotive Group also opened its first Dodge franchise in Cary, North Carolina in 1993.
By 1996, the company built upon its world-class customer service offerings by opening its first two Hendrick Collision Centers in Kansas City, Missouri and Cary, North Carolina.
A leukemia survivor, Hendrick in 1997 chartered the Hendrick Marrow Program, a nonprofit group that works in partnership with Be The Match Foundation. Hendrick and his wife, Linda, were later honored with Be The Match Foundation's Leadership for Life Award, which recognized individuals who made an extraordinary commitment in serving marrow transplant patients.
The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a transition time for the company, setting the stage for what is now the largest privately held automotive retail organization in the United States, and one of the largest automotive retail organizations in the United States.
In May 2016, Rick Hendrick and wife Linda established the not-for-profit Hendrick Family Foundation. It consolidated the philanthropic efforts of the Hendrick family and absorbed its predecessor, the Hendrick Marrow Program, which raised more than $15 million since 1997. A leukemia survivor, Hendrick also is involved with the Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte and various other charitable endeavors.
Hendrick Automotive Group expanded its reach into the Austin, Texas market with its purchase of Audi South Austin in December 2016. Growth in the market continued in May 2018, opening BMW of South Austin, a 109,000-square foot dealership that remains the largest facility footprint within the company.
Hendrick Automotive Group generated $9.5 billion in revenue in 2018 after selling more than 206,000 vehicles and servicing 2.5 million cars and trucks.