THEN AND NOW: SHARON MOSS
Jan 18, 2018 10:22AM ● Published by Caitlin Marshall
Since her Cover Story ran in December of 2014, Sharon Moss has continued to thrive as the CEO of Moss Motors. It’s been nearly 30 years since she took over the reins after the passing of her late husband William “Billy Jack” Moss, where despite being a businesswoman in a male-dominated industry, Sharon was determined to make it work and never considered allowing anyone else to take over or run the company that her husband had built from the ground up.
Ask her friends and they’ll tell you, Sharon is one of the most hardworking, determined and kind-hearted people you’ll ever meet. She also has one of the most recognized faces in Acadiana. You may not know her personally, but if you’ve lived in Lafayette for more than a week, you’ve most likely seen her face somewhere.
So what’s new with Sharon? Well take a sluggish economy and add Sharon Moss—what do you get? Time to expand!
Take a little trip down “Auto Row” on Johnston Street and you’ll see Moss Motors has broken ground on a new $10 million Mercedes-Benz dealership. This dealership will be Louisiana’s one and only AMG Performance Center, which sells high-end, high-performance Mercedes-Benz cars. At 35,000 square feet, this dealership will expand over five acres. Moss Motors Mercedes-Benz AMG Performance Center is scheduled to open in early 2018 if all goes as planned.
“We will be the only one in the state,” Moss proclaimed. “New Orleans doesn’t have it, Baton Rouge doesn’t have it. We’re going all the way!”
Moss Motors’ growth isn’t merely physical. In our first interview with Sharon, it was stated that Moss Motors employed 166 people throughout their franchise. According to Moss, when opened, the new state-of-the-art dealership will allow us to hire even more employees.
From all indications, the new facility will be over the top with amenities never seen before in these parts. Sure it will feature some of the finest luxury cars in the world and obviously, the design and décor will be second to none, and the services provided will be first class, but it’s the little things we (FACE) didn’t expect that put this little $10 million project over the top—to make your experience a little more luxurious, the walls will be perfumed—yes, perfumed.
Sharon said she has yet to decide on the perfume to be used; however, Mercedes-Benz’ brand of colognes for men and women provides an array of options and having the ability to switch perfumes will be handy to help her team optimize the customers’ experience.
“I am a woman, and women do things like that,” Sharon expressed with a laugh. As a woman, it’s only natural for her to take that extra step into making something more pleasing and inviting for her customers. “When you smell something great, like when you’re walking through the perfume aisle, don’t you just feel great?”
She compared her love for the little, pleasurable things to her passion for being involved with local events and non-profits around Acadiana. Sharon prides herself on the fact that she is a local businesswoman who not only runs her business in Lafayette but also lives in town. When schools, businesses, or nonprofits ask her to donate or to be involved, Sharon, who is always eager to help, jumps on the opportunities as often as she can.
Although she was reared in Oklahoma, Lafayette is the place she calls home. Asked why she holds Lafayette dear, Moss responded: “We are the jewel of Louisiana. We truly are.” She said a few of her employees are from Texas, and the warm, open-armed community of Lafayette blew them away when they first got here. “You can’t get that anywhere else.”
Acadiana Center of the Arts, Hospice of Acadiana, the Wildcat Foundation, Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, the Boys and Girls Club of Acadiana, and Healing House: Hope for Grieving Children are just a few philanthropies Sharon has been involved with over the years.
Sharon said that Acadiana Animal Aid, a local non-profit, no-kill shelter that focuses on spaying and neutering, rehoming, and adopting out animals, is the latest organization to capture her heart. Her adoration for animals, her cat Carlton especially, was palpable in her voice. She described her black-and-white, green-eyed tuxedo cat as a “British Gentleman.”
“I’m Lebanese; I feed anything that comes near me. You come near my house? You’re gonna eat!” Sharon exclaimed. Before becoming the lazy house cat he is now, Carlton would make frequent appearances at her back door. After feeding him enough times, he became an indispensable member of her family.
Sharon said she always gives 120 percent. She’s an all-or-nothing type of woman and believes if she, as the leader, does not show the heart and drive it takes to be successful, she cannot expect her employees to do the same. “A competitive spirit will take you far in life,” Sharon stated. And being competitive in the car business is a must, she added. For Sharon, competitiveness is more than skin deep; just because she likes to wear lipstick that matches her outfits doesn’t mean she isn’t ready to put up a fight when the going gets tough. It is difficult being a woman in a man’s business, but she said she believes that if a woman were to prove her worth, then men will be forced to take her seriously. Although entering a male-dominated field may be intimidating for young businesswomen, Sharon stated that perseverance is key.
In fact, she believes if a woman excels and surpasses the expectations of her male peers, she will easily gain their appreciation and their support. She relates this back to her being the only woman in Louisiana to have been nominated and win Dealer of the Year.
After 28 years in the car dealership business, Sharon has a few words of wisdom for any women trying to make their names known in the world of business. In her opinion, women need to be prepared to have thick skin and “never say die.”
“Sometimes you have to walk down that street all alone,” she admitted when faced with making hard decisions. Just because a woman might have to take the road less traveled doesn’t mean she should allow adversity to hold her back from achieving greatness.
Read Sharon's original cover story at https://issuu.com/FACEACADIANA/docs/face_dec2014_issuu