Business Leader’s Success Story Inspires Others Struggling to Remake Themselves
After her husband of 52 years passed away, Connie Holzer discovered the inner strength and ability to not only remake herself, but also to manage a business struggling to survive a severe economic downturn. Through her hard work, integrity and leadership, Holzer and the employees at Tom Holzer Ford rebuilt their dealership into one of the top-performing dealerships in the world.
Holzer will share her struggles and successes with an audience of 500 people at JVS’s ninth annual Trade Secrets dinner on March 29 at the Troy Marriott. The fundraising event benefits JVS services that support women job seekers, such as the Women to Work Program, which helps women reinvent themselves and enter the workforce after difficult life changes.
“Connie’s story parallels the stories of participants in the JVS Women to Work Program who come to JVS for job search assistance when they are at difficult crossroads in their lives,” said Linda Schlesinger-Wagner, event co-chair and founder of skinnyteesTM, presenting sponsor of Trade Secrets. “By sharing our stories, we grow as women, and we realize that each of us has had a difficult period in our lives.”
Holzer believes “it is never too late to start a new job, new career or new life.” She assumed leadership at the dealership when her husband passed away in 2006. At the time, Michigan’s economy was beginning a downward slide. Struggled with the decision of whether to keep or sell the business, she worried about the 130 people employed at the dealership and what selling the business would do to them and their families.
Holzer decided to keep the business; she mortgaged her home and her employees didn’t receive raises.
“I leveled with all of my employees,” Holzer said. “We would all lose everything, or we would all win together.”
And they won. They worked as a team to re-build the dealership, which now ranks 4th in the region and 10th in the world.
“Connie, my friend for over 30 years, and I mentored each other as we shared very adverse times during the same period of our lives,” said Schlesinger-Wagner. “Connie is honest and gets to the real ‘nuts and bolts’ of life and the challenges we face. Her story is one of hard work and believing in yourself and your employees.”
Trade Secrets has grown every year, leading to a change in venue this year to the Troy Marriott.
“This is a wonderful, heart-warming event that showcases the life-changing support JVS provides to women and their families,” said Kristen Gross, event chair and secretary of the JVS Board of Trustees. “Our new venue will allow us to accommodate more guests and our signature raffle in support of women job seekers.”
The Women to Work Program has served more than 2,200 women over the past 25 years. Kimberly Baker, a recent graduate of the program, will share her success story at the event and be honored for her accomplishments.
“After completing the program, 85 percent of our participants either find jobs or enroll in further training or education to meet their goals,” said Judy Richmond, Women to Work coordinator.
Event tickets start at $150. Numerous Trade Secrets sponsorship opportunities are available. Purchase tickets or become a sponsor by visiting www.jvshumanservices.org/tradesecrets or by calling Judy Strongman at (248) 233-4213.