On July 17, 2020, Jamar Brinkley did something remarkable. While the automotive industry was reeling from COVID-19, Brinkley took a leap of faith and opened the doors of his new Nissan dealership.
“I am a strong believer in faith,” Brinkley said. “My attorney and my financial advisor asked, ‘Why would you risk everything you have?’ I told them, this is the business I was led to. I’ve got to be obedient.”
That business is Renaissance Nissan in Roanoke Rapids, NC. Although his advisors may have had questions, there was no doubt he had the support of his wife, Jenelle, and their two young boys.
Still, he found himself leaning hard on his faith.
“The first week was pretty scary,” Brinkley said. “We didn’t sell our first car until July 22. But once the first opportunity happened, it just started rolling from there.”
The North Carolina native got his start in the automotive industry in 2003. A college sophomore and in the National Guard, Brinkley’s unit was called up to go to Iraq. He withdrew from college and quit his job, only to receive a “no go” due to a health issue. He was out of school and out of a job.
After he returned to his studies, he decided to pursue a dream.
“I always had a passion for cars,” he said. “I went through a phone book and found the dealerships. I went for an interview, and Hendrick hired me on the spot.”
Brinkley spent the next eight years with Hendrick Automotive Group, quickly rising through the ranks after graduation.
“I started as a salesperson, and had the opportunity to be finance manager, new vehicle sales manager, director of financial services, and general sales manager,” he said.
Despite his success, he felt the need to achieve more.
The answer came in 2011 when he met Damian Mills, CEO of Mills Automotive Group. Mills recruited Brinkley, and over the next six years, became his friend and mentor as he operated Mills’ dealerships in Statesville and Goldsboro.
“A mentor is a sounding board,” Brinkley said. “Someone who can point you in the right direction. I think that’s one of the most important assets you can have.”
In 2016, Brinkley ventured out on his own, naming his company “Renaissance Cars” because “renaissance” means “rebirth.”
“It was a concierge service, which allowed customers to buy cars without being in a dealership,” he said.
During this time, Brinkley met Gary Powers of Dealer Service Solutions, part of Innovative Aftermarket Systems (IAS). Through Powers, Brinkley could offer customers F&I products to protect their vehicles and enhance their value.
Several years later, Brinkley was presented with the opportunity to purchase his own Nissan dealership. He put his trust in a higher power and jumped in with both feet.
Today, Renaissance Nissan provides customers with new and pre-owned vehicles, competitive financing and ASE-certified maintenance and repair. Through his association with Powers and IAS, Brinkley also offers customers a variety of F&I products, including vehicle service contracts, certified wrap and lifetime engine warranties.
Brinkley is also focused on using his business to help his community.
“Growing up, my grandmother started food pantries,” he said. “I always wanted to carry on her legacy. Being able to give back so someone else can have an opportunity is very important.”
Clearly, Brinkley is pouring his heart and soul into Renaissance Nissan.
“The first thing I do when I arrive in the morning is pray,” he said. “I have a routine to make sure I stay grounded and focused on the ultimate plan.”
As grounded as he may be, his children think having a car dealer for a dad is pretty special.
“My oldest son definitely gets excited about the entire process,” Brinkley said. “He sees a legacy that can be left behind. He sees the vision.”