Destined to deal: Liza Borches takes Volvo helm

With the recent sale of Herb Brown Volvo, the male-dominated auto sales world got an estrogen infusion. Twenty-eight-year-old Liza Borches took over the Ivy Road business in February, becoming the first female owner/operator of an auto dealership in Central Virginia.

The transition, she says, has been as smooth as the luxury rides she now sells from a hilltop dealership on the edge of Ivy Road cattle pastures.

"I think everyone's been very accepting," says Borches of her staff, all of whom worked for Brown before the sale.

For Borches, the auto industry was a natural fit– in fact, she says, "It's been a little bit in my blood for quite a few years."

Eighty years, to be precise.

Back in 1924, her great-grandfather Harrison Carter Myers Sr., started the Petersburg Motor Co., a Ford dealership south of Richmond. Her grandfather Harrison Carter Myers Jr., and father, Harrison Carter Myers III, carried the business on, building a dynasty of sorts.

Along with the Colonial Motor Co.– which sells eight brands including Cadillac, GMC, and Mitsubishi– the family also owns a Chevrolet store in Richmond, as well as Hyundai and Honda stores in Petersburg. In addition, a "sister" company, Autorent, has 10 locations across Virginia.

But the Volvo biz is all hers. "In the eyes of Volvo," her father explains, "she is the owner/operator."

Borches has more than bloodlines backing that ownership. Following her 1997 graduation from UVA, where she earned a degree in marketing and commerce, Borches took a job at American Honda, in which she worked with more than 100 dealerships.

Her first interview for that job, jokes her dad, may have happened when she was just three months old.

Myers says he and his wife took Liza with them to an American Honda convention in Florida, where the head of the company, Yoshihide Munekuni, came over to admire the Myers' cooing infant.

"I think she was destined to work for Honda," laughs Borches' proud dad.

Maybe so, but she says she's thrilled to be selling Volvos, the cars once described in the 1990 Dudley Moore film Crazy People as "boxy but good." Borches calls the Charlottesville market for today's sleeker Volvos " extremely strong."

And she hopes to make it even stronger.

Her dad boasts that during her first month on the job, sales at the dealership– now called Volvo of Charlottesville– jumped by 25 percent "in every department." But Borches has bigger goals.

Although the dealership has sold about 200 new and used cars annually, "I'm hoping to hit at least 250 this year," she says, "and grow it from there."

That's a woman with drive.

Liza Borches

Volvo of Charlottesville