John L. Sullivan's success is no accident.
His dad, George M. Sullivan, was an automobile dealer in Southern California, so he’s been associated with the car business pretty much all his life, except for when he was in the service and one other brief period. During his childhood his father had a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership, a Dodge dealership, a Nash dealership in Riverside, and a Kaiser-Fraser dealership in San Bernardino, and with that last one he lost a lot of money and it probably caused him eventually to get out of the business.
He learned a lot from his Dad, he was about 10 years old when his father began to take him with him when he went to buy cars, and he kept very quiet and listened to him and watched him, how he worked and how he talked to people, and he learned a lot from him.
He worked for his dad one summer during junior high school, in the parts department. Another time his father allowed him to put a shoe-shine stand on the sidewalk in front of his showroom. Those are the only times that he worked with his dad.
After graduating from high school, John got his own taste of the car business by buying cars, repairing them, and selling them. John then entered into the Army and afterwards he returned home to San Bernardino and his father asked him to enter into the car business with him. He said he wanted to do something by himself, so he landed a job with a national advertising company, traveling around the United States for about three years. He became burned out and left.
When his father retired he moved to Roseville because he liked to hunt and fish. John came up to visit him one time and he never left."
He landed his first job as a car salesman in September of 1963 selling used cars for Ernie Caddel/Caddel Chevrolet. There was no doubt that this man is a sales professional. John’s sales abilities and people skills were very obvious.
In 1977 Ernie offered John a partnership and sold him 35 percent of the dealership and assumed full responsibility of managing the company. John immediately focused on strategic goals to grow the business and achieved sales goals that had never been seen at Caddel Chevrolet. The dealership went from selling 30 to 50 cars a month to selling 150 cars each month.
In 1984 John purchased the entire Caddel Chevrolet Dealership which soon became John L. Sullivan Chevrolet. He continued to grow the business, and began plans to add more dealerships to his business portfolio. John L. Sullivan took over the Dodge dealership in Marysville in September of 2006. He then moved the dealership in March of 2014 and rebuilt a whole new design in Yuba City.
People are always asking him how he’s come to be so successful, he replies. "I think it's because of what I learned from my father, how he treated the people who worked for him and the people he did business with. He treated them with respect and they respected him, and that's what I learned. So the people I’ve chosen to be with me work with me, not for me, but with me. That's the difference.” With his father, it was always 'we -- not I,' and that's the way it's been with him.
If you ask Mr. Sullivan, he will tell you: "Certainly it's not John L. Sullivan all by himself. It's the people we have, their expertise."