Capital Buzz: At family-owned Darcars, son son takes driver’s seat


John Darvish. (David Hills/Photo by www.DavidHills.net)

Silver Spring-based Darcars Automotive Group announced some significant changes last week, with the founder’s son, John Darvish, 41, taking over from his father as president and chief executive. His father, also John, who founded the company in 1977, will remain as chairman.

The $1.25 billion company, which sells one about out of every 600 new cars in the United States, is a big player in the Washington economy, with 31 franchises locally and in Florida.

John graduated from Northwood University in 1993 with a degree in automotive marketing and is active in the Washington Area New Auto Dealers Association. He lives in Potomac, Md., with his wife Monica, daughter and three dogs. He chatted with the Buzz. The conversation has been edited for content and length.

What is it like growing up in a family business?

Inspiring. It’s our life and it’s the family name on the door.

Did you want to do anything other than run Darcars?

I knew that this is where I wanted to work when I was 6 years old and my father let me help in the parts department.

What advice would you have to others who are growing up in a successful family business?

Learn from everyone you can — not just your family.

What did you like and not like about it?

I loved seeing the entrepreneurial spirit my father has. It is wonderful working alongside my brother and sisters. That said, work doesn’t just stay at work and family doesn’t just stay at home.

How are you alike and different from your father?

My father is extraordinarily driven. His role was to be the entrepreneur and build the business. I come at it from a different angle. My role is to continue his work and hone the business to be better.

What strengths and weaknesses do you bring to the job?

I have worked in every department. I really know how the business runs and what can be done to make it better. I have very big shoes to fill.

Ten years from now, will people be buying cars in the showroom or online?

The sales model might shift, but dealers will still exist and serve a similar role — test drives, sales, maintenance, repairs. Nothing can substitute for a test drive.

Are electric cars or hybrids the future?

It depends on where the technology goes. If manufacturers are able to increase the range and decrease the time needed to charge, we will see an increase in all electric vehicles.

What will be the biggest advance in cars in the coming decades?

More safety and convenience technology. A few cars already parallel park themselves and monitor blind spots. Some cars have automatic braking systems to avoid accidents.

How does the Washington market and buyers compare elsewhere?

The D.C. market is robust. Because of traffic and long commutes, Washington buyers are interested in fuel economy and hybrid vehicles. This is an affluent region, so luxury vehicles do very well.

Going for the green

Baltimore-based Under Armour scored a big one last week when golfer Jordan Spieth, clad head to toe in Under Armour-labeled products, was all over national television as he fell just short of winning the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Ga. Under Armour signed the 20-year-old phenom, who was the most decorated golf amateur since Tiger Woods, to a multi-year deal likely worth millions as soon as he turned professional in January 2013. “The deal was big enough to let him focus on golf without worrying about finances,” Executive Vice President Matt Mirchin said. One of Mirchin’s golf marketers — Ryan Kuehl — kept tabs on Spieth, who attended University of Texas and has the same agent as another Under Armour golfer, Hunter Mahan. After the Masters, Under Armour sales picked up, and Mirchin is waiting on some metrics for how many impressions of the company logo were beamed out to buyers. It was a lot. “I think we’re both very happy,” Mirchin said. “I never left my television last Saturday and Sunday.”

The Buzz hears:

Reston-based venture firm New Atlantic Partners was part of a $10 million Series B investment for District-based Quad Learning, which helps move community college students to top universities for the last two years of their bachelor’s degree. Others who participated in the funding include New Enterprise Associates and TDF Ventures, both of Chevy Chase, and SWaN & Legend Fund of Leesburg, CNF Investments of Bethesda and New Markets Education Partners of Fulton.

Bethesda-based Consero Group, which hold invite-only networking sessions for top executives, is hosting a forum on its own turf for the first time. This July, the four-year-old company, founded by Paul Mandell, is holding a government information technology forum at the Hyatt Regency in Bethesda. Topics will include how to improve service and how develop top talent.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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