Legendary coaches Hayden Fry and Bill Snyder taught Jordan Case a thing or two about the game of football and the game of life. It turns out they also schooled him on how to run one of the most successful automotive sales companies in the United States.
“Everything – and I mean everything – I learned in sports transitioned over into the business world,” Case said. “The competition, teamwork, being able to self-motivate, being able to go through adversity – all of those things I attribute to athletics.”
Case, President and Managing Partner of three Dallas/Fort Worth-area Park Place dealerships, played quarterback for the University of North Texas (then North Texas State University) from 1976 to 1979. He led the team to its only national ranking in program history his junior season, helping Case earn an induction to the UNT Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.
“Coach Fry was a phenomenal coach,” Case said. “He majored in psychology; he knew how to get into your head. Coach Snyder, who was my quarterbacks coach, was the brightest football mind I’ve been around in my life. We had a phenomenal coaching staff.”
Case’s plan was to go into professional football, but a spinal birth defect kept him out of the NFL and limited his playing career to three seasons with the Canadian Football League’s Ottawa Rough Riders. With his degree in radio/television/film, going into sports broadcasting was Plan B, but jobs in that industry were understandably hard to come by. Plan C didn’t turn out so bad.
“A good friend of mine was selling Cadillacs in Dallas,” Case said. “He said, ‘Hey, you should get into the car business.’ At that time, I didn’t want to be a car salesman.”
However, Case decided to give it a try part time. The next thing he knew, he was selling cars full time. Then, he was a manager, general manager, president and, finally, the head honcho. He now owns two Lexus dealerships and a Jaguar dealership and has 650 “partners,” which is what he calls his employees.
“I knew the perception that I had going into the car business was not what I wanted it to be,” Case said. “I felt like I could change it. Through teamwork and getting people to work together and knocking the walls down between new cars, pre-owned, accounting and service, you make them one team. It’s like offense and defense, special teams – same thing.”
In 2005, Case’s Grapevine and Plano Park Place Lexus dealerships won the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, which is the highest Presidential honor for excellence in business management. To this day, it is the only time a car dealership in America has won the prestigious accolade.
“I’ve been very blessed to have a lot of success in the automotive industry,” Case said, “but I would not have had any of it had I not had the skills and the things I learned through football and athletics. I’m a good sport; I’m just not a good loser. I want to be the best we can be.”
And with his success in the business world, Case also wants to make sure UNT students also have the same chance he did to learn what it takes to make it in the business world with the lessons of athletics.
“It’s also good, along with the success, to be able to come back and give to the university,” Case said. “If it had not been for my scholarship, I never would have gotten a degree.”