Re-shaping female leadership in Greensboro’s car industry

Mary Rice is the dealer principal at Rice Toyota in Greensboro.

GREENSBORO, NC — “I really wanted this,” Mary Rice, dealer principal at Rice Toyota in Greensboro, said. “I really wanted to be good at it. I wanted to make my family proud. I wanted to make my children proud and I wanted to give back to this community because everything I’ve ever had in my whole life is because the people of Greensboro and the people at Toyota.”

She is the woman in charge of planning ahead for the company’s electric vehicle future!

“When my dad became of age when he was ready to retire, I naturally moved up to his role,” Rice said.

But, this family business dates back one more generation. Rice says her grandfather purchased Rice Toyota as the very first Toyota shop in the Southeast.

“I learned the sale of big items on a whole different scale,” Rice said. “I learned them in real estate which is very similar to car dealerships. You’re still working with managing inventory, supply and demand and getting a big ticket item financed.”

Before being dealer principal, Rice was more hands-on in every department as general manager for 10 years.

“There would be days where I would come in and feel like man this is going to be a tough day. I’ve got a lot to tackle and I felt the spirit of my grandfather who started this store,” Rice said. “I still feel his spirit every time I’m in this story just whispering words of encouragement. I felt the spirit of my aunt who was a dealer principal back in the 80s.”

Rice says she desperately needed the loving spirit from family. As she was building her career, she was struggling with infertility at home.

“I struggled with infertility for 10 years and when I was struggling with it not many people were talking about it and that was about the same time I was learning this new automotive industry.”

Rice says by the grace of all things good she now has a son, Ransom, and a daughter, Magnolia.

“There aren’t words to describe how lucky I am,” Rice said. “There aren’t words to describe the love that I feel, the joy that I feel being at home, the love that I feel being at work. The family here is just as important to me as the family at home. Everybody here has been with me through the last 10 years and seen how we’ve turned this dealership into something really unique and something to be proud of.”

Rice has embraced the emerging future of car dealerships by integrating tablets through customer service, re-vamping the traditional dealership lobby with similarities to an airport lobby, as well as, remodeling the service line with use of tablets, smartphones and readily accessible services like Uber !