Dynamic Duo

Steve and Barbara Jackson forge a partnership that works, on multiple levels
by Dan Miller
Jan/Feb 2017
Steve Jackson is the founder and president of Steve Jackson Automotive, which lists Toyota of Rockwall and Toyota of Corvallis among its portfolio of dealerships. But he’d be the first to admit that the company owes much of its success as well as its stellar reputation for building and operating environmentally sustainable facilities to Vice President Barbara Jackson — who also happens to be his wife.

Theirs is that rarest of relationships: a marriage and a professional partnership that works, on multiple levels.

“Steve got his start in the car business at a Honda dealership in Klamath Falls, Ore.,” says Barbara. “He was just 18 and had no experience. By the time they hired me to sell cars in 1985, he was selling cars, too. That’s how we got to know each other.”

In 1989, two rather momentous things happened: Steve bought his first dealership, a GMC outlet in Sacramento, Calif.; and Steve and Barbara got married. They’ve been a dynamic duo ever since.

Barbara has been especially influential in guiding the company down the LEED certified path. That includes convincing Steve to pursue the gold standard at Toyota of Rockwall and then taking steps to maximize the intangible benefits of that investment.

“We’ve hosted more tours at Toyota of Rockwall than I can count,” says Barbara. “Community groups, school groups, other dealers, manufacturer reps. We even had a delegation that was looking to build a 150,000-square-foot dealership in Saudi Arabia. That’s the hope: That what we’re doing will lead others to also operate in an environmentally sustainable manner.”

Customers are noticing, too, says Barbara.

Trail Blazers
Barbara and Steve Jackson (far left and right) join representatives of the U.S. Green Building Council at the 2008 opening of Toyota of Rockwall, Texas, the nation’s first Gold-certified auto dealership. The couple, who married in 1989, are partners in life and business.

“It gives you something positive to talk about rather than just how you’re going to sell them a car,” she says. “Some customers don’t care (about LEED certification). But there are more who do than who don’t.”

“I’ll tell you who cares: millennials,” says Steve. “And they’re shaping up to be the largest buying public in the history of buying publics.”

So perhaps going green really is the right thing to do — for the business as well as the planet.

“We walk what we talk,” says Barbara.

“This is our DNA,” says Steve. “It’s part of who we are.”

That’s “we” as in Steve Jackson Automotive. And it’s “we” as in Barbara and Steve. The two are inextricably linked.

“This is a family business. It’s the business we both grew up in,” says Barbara. “Steve and I were born and raised in Oregon. So owning a dealership in Corvallis is like coming home. We’ve worked hard our whole lives and now we’re in a place where we get to give back to the community that has been so good to us. We’ve had a great ride together. And it just keeps on going.”
<< Back