Just north of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. on Columbia Street sits a small but distinctive office with a red and white checkerboard pattern painted on the side of the building. It’s home to Havior Automotive, a used car dealership that owner Tony Havior opened in December 2017 after decades of working in the car business.
“I’ve been in the car business for 32 years,” said Havior, who previously worked as a sales manager at various car dealerships throughout middle Georgia. “I’ve always wanted to do it [open his own dealership] because I had a pretty huge following of repeat customers.”
With his years of experience in the used car industry, Havior knows the ins and outs of providing quality customer service and helping his customers get into the car that is right for them.
Havior describes his inventory as “a little bit of everything.” While he sells a lot of trucks and SUVs, Havior always tries to keep a variety of types of cars on the lot at any given time. He said that imports, in particular, such as Hondas and Toyotas, are always in demand, so he typically aims to keep a selection of those on hand. Havior Automotive averages about 25 to 30 cars on the lot, but Havior is also able to locate makes and models that customers are looking for as needed if they are not already in stock.
The bottom line for Havior is to get his customers into a car that fits their needs, runs well, and is within their budget.
“The most important thing is putting somebody in the vehicle, and it runs good and it gives them good service,” said Havior.
Havior said that while he does get drive-by customer traffic, a large part of his clientele consists of repeat customers and referrals. He credits the customer loyalty to the quality of service Havior Automotive provides, a philosophy Havior makes sure to instill in his two employees.
“I’m fortunate to have them,” said Havior of his employees.
Havior Automotive works with various lenders to meet the financing needs of a broad variety of clients, from customers with excellent credit to those who are credit-challenged. Havior said he and his staff are careful to assist customers with lower credit scores to not take on more car debt than they can handle. While he admits that this lends to a slower sales pace than some dealers, Havior feels it is the right way to treat people. He prefers to mentor credit-challenged customers so that they can get a car with affordable enough payments that they can continue to re-establish their credit in the long run. Not only does this set the customer up for success, but Havior firmly believes this mentorship is what keeps customers coming back to his store.
“My dad told me, ‘If you keep a good name in this business, son, it’s going to take you a long way.’ I’m glad I took him up on that,” said Havior.
Havior describes himself as a devout Christian and says he once had a friend question the combination of his beliefs and his profession, telling him, “‘You cannot be a Christ-follower and Christian and be in the car business doing the right thing,’” to which Havior replied, “I don’t believe that.”
Havior said that treating people right is the only way to do business. It is also why the Milledgeville native returned home after years of living in bigger cities in other parts of the country.
“This is where I want to be because I just like the small community feel of people helping one another,” said Havior.
When asked what he feels sets Havior Automotive apart in the local used car sales industry, Havior points to the honesty and integrity with which he guides his business.
“When they come here to Havior Automotive, they’re going to get great service, and they’re going to be buying it from a place that’s going to do what they say that they’re going to do,” said Havior. “Buy truth and sell it not. I stand on that. Sometimes it makes my pace a little bit slower, but at the end, I’m certain that God is going to bless my efforts in doing things the right way.”
1075 N. Columbia St., Milledgeville
Hours: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.