Tracey Latshaw & Michelle Russell

When you ask Michelle Russell and Tracey Latshaw of Cocoa & Coastal Hyundai why they have been so successful here in Brevard County, their answer comes easily: Family. They have continued their father’s, Bruce Nelson Sr.’s, focus on the relationships that they have built here locally. As a family-oriented business, helping their employees, customers and community is their driving force.

It was important to Nelson Sr. that his children work their way up within the dealership. Russell began working for her father in 1988, and was one of the first to walk through the doors of the Coastal Hyundai store in 1989 as an office manager. Now, she is the CFO. “It’s a true testament to my father’s values that his children are still working within the dealership 25 years later,” she said.  

Latshaw began working as a cashier and eventually took over Cocoa Hyundai 13 years ago. But it’s not only about the fact that their children work for the stores – they view their employees and customers as being part of their family too. It’s about running a business that is true to the standards that their father instilled in them.

Russell reflected, “He always said to treat people the way that you want to be treated, and that has always stuck with me. That included your family, your friends, and also your coworkers and customers. He always believed that everyone should be treated equally.”

This is part of the reason they have been so successful with their dealerships for such a long time. Their slogan is, “Come, Join the Hyundai Family,” and they truly mean it. They encourage their employees to stick to their core values such as teamwork, respect, community involvement, and building lasting customer and employee relationships. Successful businesses come from the employees, and it could not be possible without their hard work and dedication. The Cocoa Hyundai and Coastal Hyundai service departments have both been recognized for No. 1 district monthly customer service scores as judged by their customers.  

Another way they continue their father’s legacy is by following the simple life lessons that he taught them. “One of the things our father told us is to make sure that we support our community,” Latshaw explained. “If you are lucky enough to have the means to give back, you have a responsibility to do so. I think that is why we are all so committed to the charities we support.” Latshaw and Russell both volunteer their time to worthy causes. They both have been heavily involved in Candlelighters of Brevard for the last 20 years. They also sponsor Space Coast Early Intervention Center as well as Toys for Kids, which is a charity they have supported since its inception 13 years ago. It is important to them to support charities that keep money here in Brevard County. The Children’s Hunger Project is a newer charity that they are supporting, as well as sponsoring events for their employees such as Little League teams, dance teams, and golf tournaments. Employees are encouraged to volunteer and also give back as well.

This article appears in the April 2015 issue of SpaceCoast Business.
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