Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

It's a Living: Jonathan Fowler, VP of Operations for Fowler Holding Group in Norman

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

It's a Living: Jonathan Fowler, VP of Operations for Fowler Holding Group in Norman

Article excerpt

Jonathan Fowler admitted that his new job is hard to describe.

In January, he took on the title of vice president of operations for Fowler Holding Co., a corporate office promotion from his position as general manager of Fowler Volkswagen, which he started and successfully ran for three years. When asked what he does now day to day, however, the expression on Fowler's face said it all: It's complicated.

Typical for the position of VP, he fields calls and puts out proverbial fires all day. But the operational part isn't what piques his passion. Rather, it is the grass-roots promotion that makes him smile and lean forward in his office chair.

He said his job primarily involves applying across the other seven Fowler dealerships the wildly successful marketing lessons learned while general manager of Fowler Volkswagen.

The success of the VW dealership is, in large part, propelled by Fowler's direct involvement in the Oklahoma City arts and arts education community. Sponsorships, funding, awards programs and support of initiatives such as the Plaza District Association position Fowler VW in a very different way than the traditional car dealer frame.

"I'm always looking for ways to tie the store to something positive that will also positively affect the store," he said.

For VW, it was easy for Fowler to relate his passion for the arts to the younger brand demographic. Moving forward, he will be matching the other dealerships with grass-roots themes based on a lot of research and data.

"I want to brand each dealership by its demographic and real market, and then figure out the best ways to get involved in the community that will support the interests of that group," he said.

First up for a new marketing makeover is the flagship Norman Toyota store, where Fowler is leaning in the general theme direction of healthy food and fitness lifestyles. His first Toyota-related effort is support of Midtown Oklahoma City's H & 8th Night Market, a final-Friday food-oriented street festival conjured by JD Merryweather, co-owner of COOP Ale Works.

"They've never had a major sponsor come in and wrap their arms around them, and I've had a lot of conversations with Laura Massenat (H & 8th organizer, Oklahoma City Public Schools board member and co- owner of Elemental Coffee) about that," he said. …

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