Holman: Driving a culture of doing what’s right


When Steward C. Holman opened a Ford dealership in Merchantville in 1924, cars were in such high demand they practically sold themselves. Holman saw a bigger picture though, taking great care to recruit and train a sales force that valued serving customers and helping others.

Steward Holman and his son Joseph with a Ford Model T

As he put it, “First and foremost, a company is defined by its people.”

This founding philosophy rings as true today as Holman nears its 100th anniversary. The South Jersey-based organization has earned a reputation for providing superior automotive-centric services through its commitment to always do the right thing for its employees, customers and the communities it serves.

Doing good is good business, says Kristina Nicoles, Holman’s Senior Vice President of Human Resources. Today, Holman is a global organization that delivers a wide-range of automotive solutions including fleet management services, vehicle fabrication, commercial and personal insurance, and retail automotive sales as one of the largest privately owned dealership groups in the U.S.

And yet, the organization has the feel of a much smaller company, says Nicoles. And that is largely a result of the company’s relentless commitment to building a culture of respect and caring. Put simply, it’s the Holman way.

“We continue to drive what’s right for our people, our customers, and the community,” says Nicoles. “We’re still a family-owned company that values the ability to provide rewarding careers and a better life for our people and their families. Our mission is to create and sustain an environment in which people come to work every single day feeling valued and enthusiastic about the work that they do.”

The values-driven culture does not go unnoticed. Holman has been certified as a Great Place to Work since 2018 and the employment engagement platform Achievers has included the company on its list of the 50 Most Engaged Workplaces five times. The value in taking part in these nationally-recognized, survey-based certification processes, says Nicoles, is to ensure that Holman continues to offer its employees the tools they need to find their own purpose, both at work and in life.

“We are interested in how we are benchmarked against other great organizations, committed to listening and hearing from our people about areas we can improve and also what we do really well,” says Nicoles. “We continue to develop our employee engagement efforts to recognize our people, ensure that we’re empowering them and offering them what they need to develop their talents.”

There are literally hundreds of opportunities for South Jersey residents to join the Holman family to find a welcoming work/life balance and a dynamic, rewarding career. In addition to the many Holman dealerships in the area, the company’s corporate headquarters in Mt. Laurel is where more than 1,500 of the company’s 6,500-plus employees work in business development, engineering, human resources, information technology and marketing, among other departments.

“We have programs in place to help support our people where they are today and to prepare them for the future.”

A dedication to employee growth

Holman embraces personal development by offering its employees unprecedented opportunities across its businesses for education, growth and upward mobility. Tuition reimbursement is offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

“We offer tuition reimbursement on day one of employment,” Nicoles says. “When an employee walks through the door, we are investing in them for their long-term career. If someone wants to pursue their education, we want to be there every step of the way to support them.”

Through Holman University, the company’s in-house training and development program, there are always new opportunities for employees to learn and grow. There are new leader education programs, for when employees are newly promoted, as well as advanced leadership programs – so current managers can develop the skills they need to bring out the best in their teams.

Those who aren’t in a leadership role also have access to courses, so they can learn new skills or explore a variety of career paths. If employees want to learn about a different line of business at Holman, they can look through the courses and see what interests them.

Getting work/life balance right

At Holman, relationships with employees don’t take a pause during off-work hours. “Our Holman Wellness program provides a variety of ways to connect our people to needed resources for all aspects of their lives,” Nicoles says. “That varies from helping to plan their financial futures to offering support for physical or emotional health.”

Programs evolve based on feedback, Nicoles says. By listening to the voices of employees, the company has heightened its focus on diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

The journey towards increased diversity and inclusion has been spearheaded by an employee-led DEI committee who is supported by a team with diverse experiences. All management leaders receive comprehensive diversity and inclusion training developed by an outside consultant. There are also many diversity and inclusion learning bundles offered through Holman University for all.

“We’re continuing to enhance offerings to ensure that every day, when employees join the organization, we want them to feel this is an inclusive environment where they are surrounded by people who are respectful of their opinions and allow them to be themselves,” Nicoles adds.

This includes the company’s expansion of its employee resource groups, such as the Women of Holman group, an LGBTQ+ group called Holman Proud, Neurodiversity at Holman, and Holman S.O.U.L , among others. These groups are safe spaces where employees with common bonds and experiences can gather together to foster belonging and understanding, she adds.

Making communities stronger together

Another priority of work/life balance at Holman is a commitment to serving – both to help fellow employees and the community at large – through Holman community engagement initiatives. Between employee action, company grants, and corporate sponsorships, Holman continues a decades-long focus on making an impact by giving back to the community. Collectively, Holman employees participate in nearly 5,000 community service hours each year.

One of the key charitable initiatives every year is Holman’s partnership with United Way. Holman employees campaign to fundraise in-house and participate in service Days of Caring. These Days of Caring might include volunteering to work on local construction or painting projects or spending time at area facilities helping children. Among the efforts, Holman has supported numerous efforts to beautify the Camden riverfront, which are tied to the company’s own sustainability goals, Nicoles says.

“If an employee has an organization they’re passionate about supporting, they can bring that to us, and we will find a way to help out,” she adds. “We are driven by supporting what’s important to our people.”