John Koons Jr. spends a few hours of the weekend at his Chevy dealership, talkin' cars like the slogan says. But the rest of the time he takes it easy with his family. He's had some of the best weekends of his life this fall, he says.
"I don't think there's any question that I'm at a point in my life where I'm happier than I've ever been," says Koons, "and I enjoy not having to do things, any kind of obligations. I like to run my business at certain hours. And I don't like to, or I don't need to, be entertained."
As you get older, says the 39-year-old executive, "You can have fun doing nothing. It doesn't have to be a Broadway play, a planned activity. It can be just being together."
Koons has three tips for making the most of a weekend: 1. Enjoy your wife. (He and his wife Cathy were just married in February.) 2. Enjoy your kids. (They have six between them from previous marriages.) 3. Enjoy the simple things: "When you do that," he says, "if you do something exciting, then it's even more fun."
Utopia for him is flying down to Florida with his wife for a weekend at their house in Fort Lauderdale. "The phone doesn't ring, nobody knows where you are. Nobody asks you for money, nobody asks any favors, nobody talks to you about his divorce or house buying," as happens at the office.
Weeknights he often entertains on business, and sometimes throws parties for his employees where there may be as many as 600 people. "But it's not something I enjoy doing. It's a job.
"When I finally hit the weekends, I just want to do what I want to do. I don't go out with a factory person or another dealer on the weekend. To me, that's my time. If they want to get together, I want to do it Wednesday or Thursday, if I want to at all."
On Saturday nights, the Koonses have a few couples over, or they may go out for dinner at a restaurant close to home -- Falls Landing, Hunan Lion, Marco Polo and Kazan, all in the Vienna-McLean-Great Falls area. "I enjoy being away from people," says Koons. "All these places, I know everybody. When I come in, they stick me in the corner, where we eat dinner, have a few beers. Nobody bothers me."
All weekend, a steady stream of kids' friends passes through their home in Great Falls, but Koons values his privacy: "I don't socialize with any neighbors: I've never met any. I go out of my way," he says. "When I come home, I come home to see the people I want to see. I don't want somebody hanging over the fence saying 'Hey, what's happening?'
"I'm a very informal person. I hate to dress up on weekends, hate to wear a tie on weekends. In fact, I almost refuse," he says. "I try to run as simple a life that way as I can." It's reflected in the clothes he wears, from his short-sleeved white shirt, loosened tie and vest, down to his rattlesnake boots. "I don't own a pair of shoes," says Koons. "Nothing but the boots -- and tennis shoes and baseball shoes." He pulls up his pantlegs to show off the impressive filigree on the cowboy-boot tops.
The western theme extends to his taste in music. While the showroom downstairs plays Muzak, the PA system in his office always plays country-western. He likes Kenny Rogers, Neil Diamond, Elvis and the Oak Ridge Mountain Boys. But, "If I had to go see one person," says Koons, "it would probably be Wayne Newton."
Koons' box at the Capital Centre isn't frequented by its owner, though he did go to the Stones concert with 15 teenagers. And he definitely plans to attend the Virginia- Maryland basketball game on December 11.
Koons spends a lot of time talking sports. It's obvious from the walls of his office that it's more than just talk or sponsoring teams: Beyond the automobile sales awards, the walls are decorated with scores of photos of Little Leaguers he's coached in the past nine years. His avocation has led to a vocation: Next year, Koons will be head Varsity baseball coach at O'Connell High School in Arlington.
Koons keeps in shape by playing some football and basketball and a lot of baseball with his teenagers. At the Sporting Club in McLean, he lifts weights and runs three miles a day.
He often makes analogies between sports and sales: "I try to teach the boys and the kids I coach, you've got to play the game between the white lines. You don't quit. You do all your talking on the field. It doesn't do any good to talk in the stands. When the game's over, it's too late to talk. If you've done well, the record says so. And the next day they are going to say, 'Play ball.' When you start the next game, the score is nothing to nothing."
It's the same way in the showroom, he says: "If you do a tremendous selling job and you sell someone an automobile, when you get the next customer, you start all over again.
"Most people will say I am competitive," says Koons. "I may give you a different answer." But the man who runs JKJ Chevrolet and four other distributorships, and is president of two more, can't really deny it: "Do I play competitive games? Your whole life is really in a way competitive, competing for car sales, competing for most everything we do. The ones who like to compete are good in the automobile business," says Koons.
"I've got my problems, just like everybody else; I go home to get away from it. As tight and upset as I may be, I very seldom if ever take work home. I prop my feet up, I'm fine.""