It’s been 20 years since the launch of our company, The Mar-Kee Group.  My goodness, where did the time go?

1996 was the year we rolled the dice. Thank goodness we didn’t know all that we would be up against, which we now know was a blessing, or we may never have powered forward. 

As exciting as it is to begin a business, most can relate to how there is also a significant amount of anxiety that comes with the dice roll.

The first time David and I walked into our newly leased empty building, he remembers the first thing I said, and it echoed…”How long did we lease this place for?”

I want to give a quick mention of our background. David was the corporate recruiter and trainer for a seven franchise dealer group, and I was the general manager of the Honda store. We had many discussions for a year or so regarding the possibility of starting a training company. 

Well, the dealership owner informed me one day that he had sold the Honda store and if I didn’t mind, would I keep everything together, produce in the interim, keep everyone’s spirits up, oh, and please liquidate the pre-owned inventory as quickly as I could, and while doing so please be a good steward of his money. 

I’m not the most educated guy in the world, but I am loyal and had a good bit of pride in what we had built over the previous years. Stay I did, and 90 days later I did the walk-through of the store with the new dealer and management team. What a blessing in disguise. Here I sit writing about The Mar-Kee Group’s 20 year anniversary!

Our focus was two-fold. We would build and market the Success – One Idea at a Time program, and also attack the market with consumer leasing.

I’ll never forget the statement the dealer’s son made in the walk-through of the facility. He stated that the first thing they were going to do was get rid of that leasing crap we had been doing. We had gone from 10% lease penetration, to 49.8% with an average of a 30 month term, and loving the short cycle return business. Anyway, the next day we opened the new, vacant office of The Mar-Kee Group.

David and I spent the next few years building the Success – One Idea at a Time program.  This became a 64 VHS tape, 244 brief video sales training library, and we also began doing a good bit of in-dealership sales and management training.  

In 2005, much earlier than dealers were ready to make the paradigm shift, we began building and offering the online program, eAutotraining

I’ll never forget when one of our DVD and in-dealership clients first walked up to our booth at the 2005 NADA convention in New Orleans, and said, “Okay, show it to me,” and he has been on the program ever since – going on 11 years now. 

I am incredibly proud of my partner, David Martin, and his accomplishments with over 10 NADA speaking appearances, and a great many Australian Key Note appearances. He has delivered our message in an extraordinary fashion and we are both proud of what we have provided to so many front line salespeople, who too often are left to survive and thrive on their own merits. 

From my humble beginnings as a salesperson for three years, and then given the opportunity to perform at every variable management position over a period of nineteen years, to then go on to partner in building a training company where so many have given their trust and put their confidence in, well, I do take some pride in that. 

Some have asked, “What do we attribute the success of the company to? What has made it click?” 

First and foremost, we were not generic trainers trying to figure out the car business.  We were car guys, with torn tee shirts, getting into the training business.  One thing about car people, they know if you know or not, if you’ve paid your dues.  They know immediately if you have real solutions for the things that take place every day in the dealership world. With that in mind, our business approach delivers the messages in brief segments, incorporates role play, and provides printed course materials along with testing.

Another way that we have been able to remain relevant is the fact that we never stop revising and adding the most up-to-date information for our valued clients. Also part of the successful business partnership is mutual respect and the balance we bring to the table.

In closing, I will say that a lot has transpired over the 20 year journey….from VHS, to DVD, to online training. A few times we, along with the rest of the world, have weathered some economic storms, yet keep coming out on the other side, powering through and staying excited about helping others put “The Art of Selling” back into the dealership.

Richard Keeney

The Mar-Kee Group


251-680-6633 (cell)

The Mar-Kee Group is proud to celebrate 20 years of outstanding Sales, Service, and Management Training.