Cox Automotive, in partnership with the National Association of Minority Automotive Dealers (NAMAD), awarded its Rising Star Award to Wadette H. Bradford, Martin Kia general manager, in recognition of her strong leadership and commitment to the automotive industry and her community.
In nominating Bradford, Amber L. Martin, co-owner, Martin Automotive Group, said: “Wadette Bradford is an emerging leader as exemplified by her enthusiasm, dedication and passion to contribute excellence to the automotive industry. Her industry knowledge alone is well beyond her years, demonstrating her to be a notable next generation leader.”
Bradford’s work has been instrumental in growing and expanding brand recognition and profit margins for both new and well-established dealerships. As general manager of Martin Kia, Bradford has increased inventory turns, developed innovative digital marketing campaigns and increased service gross profit.
Nicole Ashe, senior vice president, talent, diversity and culture, Cox Automotive, said: “On behalf of Cox Automotive and in partnership with NAMAD, I am honored to recognize Wadette for her phenomenal achievements in automotive. Wadette is aspiring to be a franchise dealership owner-operator, and with her enthusiasm and passion for the automotive industry, I am confident that she will achieve that goal.”
One of Bradford’s most significant career achievements was accomplished under the tutelage of her first mentor, Ellenae Fairhurst. Bradford was encouraged to forge an enterprising partnership with Huntsville business leaders where she established a client relationship to secure a multimillion-dollar contract resulting in improved brand recognition and loyalty for Lexus of Huntsville. The contract execution also resulted in record pre-owned gross profit and unit sales.
“I am honored to be the first woman to receive this prestigious award,” said Bradford. “My role model, Mrs. Ellenae Fairhurst, a Lexus dealer in Alabama, gave me the foundation for my success with my first management job for which I will be eternally grateful. Ms. Amber Martin’s keen business acumen to recognize talent afforded me the opportunity to sharpen my skills as general manager with the Martin Management Group. As we continue to surge forward growing the business, claiming new market share, increasing our support of the community and our profitability, my hope is to inspire other women to join the automotive industry.”
Martin Kia is one of six franchises comprising Martin Autoplex in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Its parent company, Martin Automotive Group, was founded by Cornelius A. Martin in 1985 with the purchase of a single point Oldsmobile Cadillac dealership. The family-owned company operates automotive dealerships across the nation.
Bradford is a member of the Kentucky Auto Dealers Association, the American International Automobile Dealers Association Rising Dealers Network and NAMAD NextGen. In addition, she participates in the Kentucky Auto Dealers Association Lobby Day in Frankfort, Kentucky, to ensure legislators are aware of the issues that affect consumers, dealers and their employees. Bradford also lobbies in Washington D. C. on Capitol Hill with the American International Automobile Dealers Association. She is active in the community where she is a member of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals and United Way.
Bradford, a native of Tuskegee, Alabama, graduated from the National Automobile Dealers Association Academy in 2010 at the top of her class after receiving a bachelor’s degree from Alabama A&M and a master’s degree from University of Alabama in Huntsville.
Cox Automotive is donating $5,000 to one of its national diversity partners in Bradford’s honor. She chose National Urban League, a non-profit organization with a mission of empowering African-Americans through economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.
Ashe presented the award at the NAMAD annual meeting awards dinner in Miami on July 13. Bradford was chosen based on nomination criteria including being a NAMAD member under the age of 40 who shows proven leadership qualities in the automotive industry.