BY ETHAN FORMAN
---- — DANVERS — Kelly Automotive Group’s Director of Operations Brian Heney has been named to a list of 40 under 40 “up-and-comers” in auto retailing by The Automotive News.
The honor comes about the same time the auto industry trade publication has placed five of Kelly’s dealerships among the Top 100 best automotive dealerships to work for in North America.
The auto group, whose president is Danvers native Brian Kelly, singled out Kelly Nissan of Lynnfield; Kelly Infiniti and Kelly Volkswagen, both in Danvers; Kelly Nissan of Woburn and Kelly Honda in Lynn. Only six dealerships were selected in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, and Kelly had five of the six.
Heney, 39, is a native of northern Vermont who grew up eighth in a family of 10 children. Starting at the age of 10, he worked as a dock boy at a sailing center on Lake Champlain. He played tennis and hockey through high school and at St. Michael’s College, from which he graduated in 1996.
After college, he became a tennis professional. While teaching tennis, he met his wife, Kristen, the daughter of Brian Kelly. Heney and his wife have three sons, Kellan, 9, Casey, 7, and Connor, 6. His wife eventually got a job teaching at Brookwood School in Manchester, and Heney decided to switch careers.
Heney started as a sales consultant at Kelly Infiniti in 2001 and worked his way up to become executive manager at the dealership in 2008. By then, he had graduated from the National Automobile Dealer Association’s Dealer Candidate Academy in 2006.
In 2010, Heney bought a Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealership in Billerica from his father-in-law while he continued to run the Infiniti store.
“I knew I didn’t want to get out of the auto business totally,” Heney said.
The Harley dealership did well, and Heney sold it last year to become director of operations for the group’s eight dealerships, which includes the first Fiat dealer in New England and what will be the largest Volkswagen dealership in the United States when it opens Aug. 12 on Route 114 in Danvers.
The Volkswagen dealership is presently operating in a temporary facility on Route 114 in Danvers, across the street from the Infiniti dealership.
In the fall, the group plans to open Maserati and Alfa Romeo dealerships, but Heney said the group was still trying to figure out where they might go.
Heney said he often works side-by-side with Brian Kelly, from whom he continues to learn a lot about the auto industry.
The automotive group started at the Nissan dealership in Beverly on Cabot Street, which Roland Kelly opened in 1965, back when Nissan was called Datsun, Heney said.
The Kelly Automotive Group and Heney won these awards because of its employees, its volume and feedback from customers, Heney said.
“For the Kelly Group, you can go all the way back to Roland,” he said. “We treat people well.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.