Joe Billion, of J.C. Billion, Inc., has been named the Montana Small Business Person of the Year for 2013 by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Billion was nominated for the honor by David Ely, President/CEO, Energy Design Service Systems.
J.C. Billion, Inc. was started by Joe Billion in 1978, when he and his father purchased a General Motors dealership in Bozeman, Mont. Eventually, Joe took over sole ownership of the company. Over the past 30 years, Joe has grown the company significantly. J.C. Billion, Inc. now includes four auto dealerships, J.C. Billion Nissan, J.C. Billion GMC/Buick, J.C. Billion Dodge and Billion Livingston, and two additional businesses, Billion Auto Body & Executive Detail and Eco Joe's Car Wash.
When J.C. Billion, Inc. opened in 1978 it had a total of 32 full time and two part time employees. As the sales grew and the business expanded, the number of employees also increased. Today, the company employs a total of 133 full time and 26 part time employees and has plans to add an additional 20 to 50 new team members in the near future.
Billion has more than 45 years of direct experience in the auto industry. During that time he has spearheaded the expansion of J.C. Billion, Inc. leading to a growth of 12 times the annual sales from 1978 to 2007. Over the years, he has also made a point of learning the responsibilities of each position within the dealership to develop an understanding of the importance each person plays in determining the overall success of the business. Billion is committed to his employees and the community he serves, evidence of his annual bonuses to employees and his personal generous contributions to charitable organizations.
What may be the most impressive accomplishment of Joe's is his recent business expansion. Since 2010, Billion has been engaged in the construction of Billion Plaza II. This project features three, state-of-the-art, energy efficient dealerships that include large showrooms, office spaces, service and part areas and facilities for employees to use. The recession that hit the U.S. economy in 2008 had an extremely devastating impact on the U.S. auto industry and easily could have prevented the Billion Plaza II from becoming a reality. However, Billion's business planning allowed him to scale back operations during this time to remain profitable. Throughout this tumultuous time, Billion never lost sight of his goal of creating the Billion Plaza II and by working strategically to secure the necessary funding, he was able to break ground on the first dealership in 2011, with all three dealerships being completed by early 2013.
Billion was chosen as the state's top small business based on its history as an established business, growth in number of employees, increase in sales and unit volume, and response to adversity and innovation of products and services offered.
Billion, along with other award winners, will accept his award during the Montana Small Business Week award luncheon on June 13, at the Hilton Garden Inn, Bozeman. The public is welcome to attend, contact the Montana District Office at 406.441.1081 for more information.
Other 2013 award winners include:
- Inga Lake and Julie Brubaker | Apage Home Care, Inc. | Kalispell
- Serena Rundberg | The Nova Cafe | Bozeman
- Rachel Carlyle Edington | Gluten Free Mama LLC | Polson
- Chris Parson | Kalispell SBDC Director
- Glacier Bank
- Montana Community Finance Corporation