“Don’t be afraid.”
That’s the philosophy of Danny Zaslavsky, director of operations at Country Hill Motors.
It isn’t just a motivational phrase to him — that fearlessness is genetic. His family immigrated from Ukraine in 1979, and soon after, his father and Josh Buterin built the successful Country Hill Motors pre-owned vehicle franchise.
By age 14, Zaslavsky was working at the dealership as a porter, and eventually he worked his way up through the chain of command.
“My dad bet me when I was 16 that I couldn’t sell a car, so I sold cars. I washed, cleaned, moved, whatever,” he said.
He faced challenges, such as proving to employees twice his age that he “didn’t just have a PHD — Papa Has a Dealership.” But you can tell Zaslavsky genuinely enjoys his job. For instance, he talks enthusiastically about Country Hill’s endorsement by Dave Ramsey, a financial guru who teaches people how to live debt-free.
Generally speaking, the used-car industry isn’t known for encouraging modest purchases. Yet Country Hill has always worked to make sure that people were purchasing cars they could afford.
“We’ve always bought cars that people could pay cash for. … That’s the legacy we work with today … because two years from now, we want to see you again. If we bury you in a car, we won’t see you for five or six years,” Zaslavsky explains.
The dealership even offers simple-interest loans, as opposed to more typical compound-interest loans, to help people get into the car they want without ending up “upside down” in a short period of time — and they’re not afraid to tell you the truth about what’s in your price range. It’s a refreshingly authentic position.
That authentic attitude is reflected in Zaslavsky’s demeanor. He is enthusiastic, smart, and adventurous, with a human biology major and chemistry minor from the University of Kansas. He talks about his love of “sky-skiing and air-chairing” (a recreational water sport similar to water-skiing, but on a hydrofoil chair), his Portuguese water dog, Bentley, and all things outdoors.
But he really lights up when he talks about his kids. Recently, Zaslavsky and his longtime partner, Mark Stahl, became fathers to twin boys, and he proudly shows us pictures of the babies.
Zaslavsky is also on the board of the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. His focus is on education, with a passion for the Masterminds sessions that are offered to members. He describes them as an opportunity for business owners “to have people at the table with all these different disciplines and life experiences and outlooks” to help solve tough problems in a safe setting. Country Hill Motors was also a founding member of the chamber, and the dealership held the very first business-to-business networking event. Zaslavsky says that being a part of the chamber is “in the same breath of who we are as a culture.”
Country Hill Motors is proud to stand out among the crowd, and so is Zaslavsky. “If you do the right thing, and you know in your gut it’s the right thing to do, no one can challenge you. … It’s what’s brought everything together. If we were afraid of the next step, we never would have grown. It’s all because we’re not afraid to put ourselves out there.”
Photo: Landon Vonderschmidt
The Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MAGLCC) is an organization that advocates, promotes and facilitates the success of the LGBT business community and its allies. Learn more at MAGLCC.org.