by Maria Lloyd
I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Kendall V. Fontenot, a 25-year-old African-American business man who created one of the largest minority owned “Buy Here, Pay Here” auto dealerships in Louisiana. Despite the shaky economy, his business has been performing so well that he is now preparing to expand it to Las Vegas. Believe it or not, the company was formed in response to a crisis. When Hurricane Ike came and damaged the coast of Louisiana, Fontenot changed the company’s structure to sell vehicles under $10,000. His prompt attention to his customers’ needs has proven to be rewarding for Ultimate Autoplex, which is why the company is expanding in 2013.
Fontenot has been a fan of cars since the age of seventeen. He initially created a business out of his passion for cars by selling audio, rims and tires, and other car accessories. A year later, he attained his license and started selling cars out of the newspaper from his mother’s home. Despite his youth, one can quickly recognize that Fontenot is not amateur in business. Check out the excerpts from the interview below.
Maria Lloyd: In your opinion, what are the top three challenges African-Americans face when starting a business?Kendall V. Fontenot: Capital; Financial Security, Scared To Take A Chance, No Family/Friend Support.Maria Lloyd: Who do you look up to? Why?Kendall V. Fontenot: My Mother. Every since I was a child she always stood behind all of my entrepreneurial adventures and supported me in every way possible. She would tell me, “K if you want it, you better go out and get it yourself because no one owes you anything in the world.”Maria Lloyd: What advice can you offer your peers who are troubled?Kendall V. Fontenot: Well, my mom always told me that ‘an idle mind is a dangerous mind.’ So pretty much to simplify that they need to stay busy. For one, they need to start being leaders and stop trying to fit in with the crowd and start their own crowd. And also they need to learn that success is not defined by wealth, it’s defined by effort.
Maria Lloyd (@WritingsByMaria) is the Business Manager for the Your Black World Network. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and an advocate of dismantling the prison industrial complex, increasing entrepreneurship, reforming education, and eradicating poverty.