President, Century Automotive
Century Automotive is a third generation, family-owned dealership that began in 1969 when my father, John Shields II, came to Huntsville to open Royal Chevrolet. It wasn’t long before the BMW and Isuzu brands were added to the dealership. In 1981, our Chevrolet franchise was sold and the Buick line was acquired, and this became our business mindset – to procure superior automotive lines to offer to our customers. We added Volvo in 1983, Jaguar and Land Rover in 2003, and Porsche in 2005 to become Century BMW, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, and Porsche. Over the years we’ve been recognized as the Madison County Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year, the State of Alabama Retailer of the Year, and we’re very honored to have been named the Time Magazine Dealer of the Year.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face in your industry?
A: Since its beginnings, the auto industry has been constantly changing. From more horsepower to more cup holders to start-up companies like DeLorean or Tesla to now ride share companies… some people look at these as disruptors, but we see them as the most exciting part of our business! Century’s business model is fluid, allowing us to quickly adapt to the new ways our customers want to buy and service their cars.
For instance, we are beginning to see the rapid changeover from the traditional internal combustion engine to the BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle). By 2025 – just 5 years from now – over half of the models in our luxury segment will be fully electric powertrains!
Q: What value does Century Automotive gain from your HREGI investment?
A: Huntsville and Madison County isn’t just where we do business, it’s our home. It’s been exciting to watch the growth and changes that have come to our community over the last 51 years. Being a part of HREGI allows us to help the Chamber promote the positive business environment we have here in north Alabama to others across the U.S. and around the globe. The updates we get help us as a business to stay abreast of plans and developments for the economic growth in the area. My father always said, “If you take care of your community, your community will take care of you” … that’s why HREGI makes perfect sense to the Century Family!