Women is...: Irma Elder A Dealer with Drive

Irma Elder A Dealer with Drive

who she is: Owner of Troy Motors, a car dealership in Detroit. It's one of the top 50 woman-owned businesses in America according to the 1998 Working Woman magazine list. Elder serves on several Detroit boards and is active in many charities.

the biz: Troy Motors grossed $381 million in 1997. Elder employs approximately 250 people throughout her network of dealerships.

how she got there: Elder was raising three adolescent children when her husband died in l983 and she inherited the business, which at that time consisted of just one dealership.

how homemaking helped her business skills: "Most women don't realize how much they learn as housewives. There are management skills: managing your husband and children's schedules, managing your own time and learning how to manage money. I was very active on committees at my children's schools. It's amazing what we learn from raising funds and serving lunch."

her influences: "My parents are my heroes. I learned about integrity, honesty, respect for other people, hard work and determination from them. My father, an entrepreneur, was aggressive, a hard worker and good marketer.

on becoming a businesswoman: "I was a very shy homemaker before going into the business, but everyone has an innate ability to survive."

her advice: "It's all right to dream and to work hard at making their dreams happen. Always be positive."

to those wanting to get into the industry: "Get a job in a dealership or apply for a job in a corporation. Start by selling or working in an office. You must love it -- you spend so much time doing it!"