Nineteen years ago, Austin Ligon and his partners had a simple idea: make buying a used car a transparent, easy process. Today, CarMax, the business he co-founded and served as CEO, is America's largest auto retailer—a public company that sells more than 750,000 used cars a year, employs nearly 17,000 people in 30 states, and has been named one of Fortune's Top 100 companies to work for for eight consecutive years.
But Ligon didn't get here on his own—a fact he readily acknowledges.
"I worked really hard to conceive and build the CarMax business. But as President Obama has said, I didn't do it alone. I succeeded because we had a committed team of CarMax associates working round the clock to build our business. We found ready capital from healthy and flexible capital markets that allowed us to grow. We benefited from an effective national transportation infrastructure that let us move products from one market to another, and we had cooperation and assistance from federal, state, and local governments in providing clear rules of the road that let us plan and grow our business."
And this year, the choice in this election is clear for Ligon, who says, "I know President Obama understands what it takes to spark economic growth."
"When he took office in January 2009, he inherited a massive structural deficit from his Republican predecessor, an economy in free-fall, and most important for me personally, an American auto industry on the verge of collapse. The President took decisive action … and in the process, averted over a million potential job losses. I think the President gets a lot less credit than he deserves."
Mitt Romney, on the other hand, "has said nothing that gives a businessman like me confidence that he knows how to move the economy forward," says Ligon. He is skeptical of Romney's plan to cut our way to prosperity, slashing investments in infrastructure and economic growth.
"Romney economics look like fantasy economics to me," says Ligon. "President Obama has shown he has the vision to support businesses and allow them to grow. He has shown he understands the need to invest to make this happen.
"Mitt Romney hasn't."