Alistair & Alan

This seventy-two-year-old was born in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his mother and grandmother who had great pride in being African American. Alan incorporated that sense of pride throughout his life. At that time, there was some segregation in neighborhoods, however schools were integrated. He can remember way back when a homeroom teacher, Mrs. Irmiger, made him feel important. He gives her credit for making him who he is today. When Alan was in his last semester in his senior year of high school, the Museum of Science and Industry needed people to work, especially people of color. Working there really opened Alan’s eyes to the world. He later studied marketing at the University of Illinois and graduated in 1968.

Affirmative Action was in full swing at this time and Shell Oil had a position available in Marketing. Alan worked there for one and a half years, but his real dream was to be his own boss. So, in 1969 he bought a gas station in his home town where he ran the station and also pumped gas and worked on cars.

After a while, Alan came to a realization that he didn’t want to pump gas for the rest of his life and he heard about a dealer development program for minorities being offered by General Motors. In 1975, he was accepted to the program, Class #10. During this training, the company trained him on all aspects of owning a dealership which could ultimately result in the opportunity to buy a dealership, if one were to be available. He sold the gas station and was put through training for all dealership departments in Flint, Michigan.

In 1979, Alan went to work for a dealership in Chicago, in the Sales Department. He got the opportunity to buy a dealership in Lincoln, Nebraska in the Fall of 1979. It was an interesting interaction because the owner actually met him at a hotel to discuss the purchase then later, after the dealership closed (around 10:00 pm), he was able to have a tour of it. He later found out, the owner didn’t want folks to know the dealership was being sold to a man of color. In October of ’79, he sent a letter to every employee to assure them that he would do everything possible to make them successful at the dealership. He was the only black employee for two years. The establishment did very well; he even received a Key to the City from the Mayor.

In 1985, General Motors approached Alan with an offer to buy a dealership in Texas. In 1989, he picked up a Pontiac franchise in addition to Buick. In 1998, he picked up a GMC Franchise which included trucks. At this time, business was fair to good.

In 2008, the economy went south; GM was closing dealerships and not doing well. In 2009, GM filed for bankruptcy. In late 2008, GM bought out and closed Alan’s dealership. In 2009, Alan got involved in a used car lot which he eventually sold.

Alan has three children from his first marriage which ended in 1993. Alan married Alistair in 1995 who he knew through a mutual friend. Their first date was memorable, as she asked him out and told him she was going to pay for the date. However, during the meal, she realized she had forgotten her wallet. She told him that if he would pick up the check, she would pay him back, and she did soon after. Alan was very impressed with her moral character and that made him want to go out with her again. He bought tickets for them to attend a Luther Vandross concert and they have been together ever since. Ali REALLY liked Luther Vandross!

In 2011, the couple wanted to buy a franchise and they prayed fervently about it. At that time, Alistair’s mother was aging and they had brought her to Texas from Topeka, Kansas after her husband passed away. She was a former nurse who worked for the VA for years. She had taken care of her husband who suffered from complications from Congestive Heart Failure. She lived with Alan & Ali when she later developed pancreatic cancer and vascular dementia. They learned a lot about caregiving during this time which resulted in a desire to buy a senior home care franchise. Because she was a caregiver herself, it made Ali better able to relate to the caregivers she was employing and it gave her a greater empathy for the families she was serving. Ali trained and worked with the caregivers and Alan did accounting and bookkeeping. They sold their business in 2017 due to personal health issues.

Having a passion for health, Ali became a certified yoga instructor and lifestyle coach. She works with clients on health coaching for the mind, body, and soul. She is also part owner of a healthy food truck that provides catering and healthy food options at events. Ali is also a dementia practitioner where she trains caregivers in all aspects of caring for patients with dementia.

Alan is tenacious about his health also, playing tennis regularly which he has done for years. He also loves yoga, the treadmill, bike, weights. He says his eating habits are a “work in progress.” He has an Amazon store which keeps him busy day-to-day.

For fun, they go to dinner and a movie every weekend. They also love travel, especially cruising. They’re also kept busy with their six grand kids. In February of 2020 they will have been married 25 years! Alan’s favorite vice is chocolate-covered marshmallows and Ali’s is salt & vinegar chips.