O’Gara Coach Companies
Watters has dreamed of owning her own dealership for decades. She still thinks about it. But her current situation is “pretty great”. O’Gara Coach has 3 locations in Southern California and 15 franchises. It’s a who’s who of ultra-luxury brands – Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce, Aston-Martin, McLaren, Koenigsegg, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati. In 2017, O’Gara sold over a thousand vehicles retail; they are the number one dealer in the world for most of the brands they sell.
She joined O’Gara in 2016 when the owners, Tom and his sister Maureen, contacted her to do some consulting work. It quickly turned into a full-time position as CFO and COO. Her years of dealership sales and operational experience gave her the tools she needed to bring the company successfully through a major organizational change and reestablish its place in the ultra-luxury world.
Watters attributes her success to good mentors, curiosity, and her childhood spent at her father’s marina in Atlantic City where she spent time with the boat technicians. This sparked an interest in cars which led to her first automotive job as a DMV clerk, while attending college to earn her business degree. But she had bigger plans.
As her career and passion grew for the car business, her drive led her to Florida where she became the Controller for an Acura store and later Lexus and Toyota. But that wasn’t enough. She set her sights on the GM position. She knew there would be many obstacles moving forward in this very male-dominated industry but was willing to face the challenge!
An opportunity with a Hyundai dealership in Los Angeles arose which turned into a 5-franchise General Manager position, still facing the male-dominated resistance. Male managers at times would not even acknowledge her leadership, however she persevered gracefully. Cherie’s reputation with Hyundai corporate brought her more opportunities.
Cherie became the General Manager for Puente Hills Hyundai, a start-up with a Korean owner who did not know the car business. As an experienced GM, she made almost all the operational decisions. Within 2 years, the company expanded to 3 dealerships and an in-house financing company under her leadership and guidance.
Chasing her dream of becoming a dealer, she has worked with the Factories and other dealer groups in the Southern California area to establish her “worth” – standing out from her male colleagues.
On a personal note, Cherie is a Breast Cancer survivor and has been cancer-free for over 4 years.
Watters continues to lead and be an example through numerous speaking engagements where she inspires women to challenge the stereotypes in our industry and reach for the stars! She has served on many Boards, including the Advertising Board for Hyundai corporate. She has received several awards and acknowledgements; notably the 2012 Women’s Automotive Association International “Spirit of Leadership” Award, and 2010 Business Woman of the Year, San Gabriel Valley.