If there’s one way to describe the quality that makes Marcus Withers, the owner of Withers Automotive, The Property Group, and other businesses, a standout in the business world of Kentucky and beyond, it would be the phrase double-threat.
“I grew up in the inner city and went to an inner-city high school,” he explains. “I’ve held jobs in corporate America. I got the best of both worlds, the book smarts and the street smarts.”
Withers’ path to business success was anything but conventional. A child of two educators, it was inevitable that he’d get the best education his parents would be able to provide him. That meant schools that take their pupils on trips across the United States and Canada, showing kids that the world is much bigger and wondrous than their neighborhood or city.
Armed with that knowledge, Withers was pretty much a kid when he started his first business venture at 18 years of age. “I was managing a singing group that ended up getting a professional recording contract with Def Jam Records owner Russell Simmons,” he recalls. He also managed concert and event planning.
Next came real estate. “In 2003, I got into the real estate business with my first rehab. I bought my first piece of property,” Withers recalls. “I was very successful with that; I grew very quickly. I ended up acquiring 30 doors.”
Working in real estate allowed Withers to take advantage of his instincts for recognizing opportunities and following up with immaculate execution. It also gave him the opportunity to stay close to the culture as well as the music business.
“I would buy the real estate, and I would put up a studio. I’ve had probably five music studios; the most recent one I built was in 2017,” Withers says. “It ended up being the number one studio in Louisville. We were doing up to seven hundred hours per month. It’s called 400 Recording, and it’s still in business.”
Through his ownership and refurbishment of Joe’s Palm Room, the Russell neighborhood’s famous establishment with a long legacy, Withers left another mark on the culture of Louisville.
“People will come from far, from the West Coast, the East Coast, to come to Joe’s Palm Room, and I knew that grabbing this place will be iconic because I’m putting back together a national treasure,” he says. “This place is well known for jazz music. Jazz musicians would come from all around the United States and play at this place.”
After putting it back together, Withers exited from the club ownership and music studio business and set on his newest venture — auto dealerships. He acquired Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram of Lawrenceburg, and he has plans to grow Withers Automotive to include multiple locations.
“Every business has been a step up for me. I started with rehabbing houses to building houses, music studio ownership to nightclub ownership, to a car dealership owner,” Withers says. “There’s no going down. It’s all upward movement. There’s no glass ceiling, I can go as high as I want to go because corporate America guidelines do not bind me. I can go as high as I dream.”