You may know Heyward “Buddy” Allen from the commercials: he went into the car business with his father right out of college, and he’s since invested in real estate, ventures he now manages out of the Old Clarke County Jail. Beyond his many years running Heyward Allen Toyota and Heyward Allen Motor Company, Buddy was the first anchor sponsor of Twilight, Athens’ own professional bicycle criterium.
Taking Over the Family Business
Buddy was born in Athens, attended UGA, and married his wife Lucy, also an Athens native, in the early 1970s. Buddy speaks to how fortunate he was to come into the Heyward Allen Motor Company after his father had created its foundation.
When he took over the Sr. Allen’s role, Buddy began to modernize the business. He brought in new people and implemented innovative strategies to help Heyward Allen Toyota-Scion grow.
Although he doesn’t admit it, Buddy clearly has a talent for finding good people, and he attributes much of his success to an excellent team. He describes finding and keeping good talent as critical to success, requiring time and hard work.
Buddy wanted to live up to the standards that his father set, and he continually strives to deliver excellence in customer service and satisfaction. Buddy is adamant: “Athens has been incredibly good to us, and we love giving back.”
The market changes quickly in the auto industry, so the challenge is to be continually flexible. Dealerships can’t do things the same way they did last year, or even last month. Buddy says that the only thing he could count on is that everything would change, so he and the rest of management encouraged employees and themselves to accept and prepare for change.
The industry has changed tremendously since Buddy started, but he stayed nimble and invested when others elected to sit out. For example, the company saw the economic downturn of 2008 as an opportunity to double down on their commitment to service excellence.
Sponsoring the Arts
Buddy and his wife Lucy are avid supporters of the Georgia Museum of Art, and in 2010 the two were recognized as Patrons of the Year. Lucy was behind one of the museum’s most successful fundraising events, and Buddy is the longest serving member of the board.
“Buddy and Lucy Allen are exemplars of patronage to the museum and philanthropy in the community at large,” said museum director William U. Eiland. “Theirs is a selfless generosity.” The couple is passionate about the importance of visual art education, and since 1985 they have funded a program to bus every fifth grade class in Athens-Clarke County to visit the museum.
There’s no grand plan for what we’re doing in the community, no business motivation, we just love it here; it’s fantastic. The people of Athens have given us so much, and we’re proud to give back.