Advancing a manager#8217;s style

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2008

FRANKLIN—Tracey Edwards has retail running through her bloodstream, not motor oil.

Her grandparents ran the Town and Country store in downtown Franklin, and her father ran a construction company.

So when Edwards became store manager of Advance Auto in November 2006, she was the first in her family to get into the auto repair business.

Sure, some family members did minor car repair and maintenance, but none had the expertise to guide Edwards to the field.

What she did have, however, was a track record in retail, having worked at Roses during her days at Windsor High School and then attending Paul D. Camp Community College studying business management.

“Retail,” she said, “just came naturally to me.”

The folks at Advance Auto corporate must agree: Edwards was named district manager of the year last month.

The district includes about 10 stores, Edwards said, running from Smithfield to Suffolk, Newport News to Chesapeake.

She the award was based on the “numbers” the store has done recently, and she cited Brandy Francis, the commercial parts pro, for her role in the store’s numbers being so strong.

Her stop at Roses as a part-time employee mushroomed into a management career. She then went on to Dollar General stores before putting her resume on line at and getting a call from Advance, among others.

“There were [job] leads in Maryland, from all over,” Edwards said. “But I didn’t want to move.”

Her management career continued, but this time, she had to learn the field of car parts.

“I’m sure some people struggle with it,” she said, “But I wanted to learn.”

Edwards said she got a lot of help from fellow employees.

“Oh, everybody here helped out,” she said.

Even though she’s still in retail management, Edwards said the job selling auto parts is different from her last stops.

“It’s always something,” she said. For one, three trucks a day drop off parts, and commercial customers require that parts leave the store every day.

And, “there’s a different clientele” from her other jobs to thos one, helping those who need car parts.

Still, she said, “I don’t have a bad day.”

But one trait of retail carries over regardless of the product being offered.

“Our biggest thing is customer service,” she said.

Once such service is being offered Saturday in the store’s parking lot on Armory Drive. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., store employees are offering a maintenance care team to inspect vehicles for proper fluid amounts and general maintenance inspections.

When she was named manager of the year, it was done so at a meeting in Raleigh, N.C.

“I had no idea,” she said.

“She was shocked and amazed,” said Francis, the commercial parts manager.