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March 22, 2018
Lisa Vadasz & Lisa Thompson – The Women of West Chester
Lisa Vadasz & Lisa Thompson – Owner and General Manager at Otto’s BMW
Years in business: Fifty
Lisa Vadasz founded Otto’s BMW with her father, Otto, in 1968 in a converted two-bay garage in Eddystone, PA. She was 20. Twelve years before, the family had emigrated from Hungary, where their love of great cars was born.
“My motivation, quite frankly, was to help my father obtain a BMW franchise,” explains Lisa Vadasz. “I wanted to help make his dream come true.”
An accountant helped create a financial plan and complete the loan documents. “I was so young, I didn’t think about risks,” explains Lisa Vadasz. “I was constantly worried about having enough money to buy cars, buy parts, and to make payroll. There were many sleepless nights.”
When Lisa Vadasz gave birth to her first child — her namesake — she asked her husband Michael for a favor. “I need someone I can trust to run the business while I’m at home for a few months,” she told him. That few months turned into 48 years. Michael left behind a successive career in engineering and became a pivotal player in turning Otto’s into the successful franchise it is today. Otto’s Mini was added in 2002.
Now, the third generation is making their mark on the company.
"To achieve anything, you have to sacrifice."
Lisa Vadasz’ daughter, Lisa Thompson, joined Otto’s BMW part-time in 2008 as a receptionist and event planner after taking time off from her career in law to stay at home with her kids. A few years later, her father walked into her office and unapologetically asked, “So, what are you doing? Staying or going? If you’re staying, you need to step it up.”
“So I stayed,” Lisa Thompson laughs. She is in her second year as general manager at Otto’s BMW, and her brother is the general manager at Otto’s Mini. “We knew that our parents expected us to work hard. It was clear that nothing would simply be passed on to us. We had to earn it.”
“My legacy is my children,” Lisa Vadasz says. “They understand that to achieve anything, you have to sacrifice. They saw the hard work my husband, my father, and I put into the business every day. There’s no substitute for hard work.”