One of nine children born to Roberta Burns and Perry Watson, Jr., Perry Watson III grew up in the projects of Muskegon, Michigan.
The grandson of a sharecropper and the son of a factory worker, Perry was encouraged by his father to be a go-to man and to elevate the family name. To Perry, that meant economic freedom through entrepreneurship, and from an early age, he aspired to be a successful business owner. A poster child for affirmative action, Perry went to Western University through the Upward Bound program, where he earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1973, followed by his Master of Business Administration in 1977.
With his trademark persistence and tenacity, Perry was hired on the spot by Xerox after getting his MBA. A natural salesman, Perry worked his way up in the company over the next thirteen years. In 1990, he quit his job at Xerox to enroll in the brand-new, two-year Chrysler Minority Dealer Training Program. After completing the program, he was awarded his first auto dealership, North Star Dodge in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Perry eventually formed a new corporation—Brookdale Dodge—which he cultivated into a successful business which he sold in 2004.
When Lexus made the historical decision to award six new dealerships, Perry’s innate drive to succeed and corporate experience earned him Lexus of Mishawaka in South Bend, Indiana, which he opened in August of 2001, and which has been ranked among the top 100 dealerships. He is also a partner in Marysville Toyota in Seattle, Washington, which opened in April of 2018.
For Perry Watson III, it’s all about family, legacy, and consistently showing up as a leader and an example in the community to ensure the success of future generations. Perry is a member of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD) and served as its from 2015-2016, was a co-founder and the third president of the Toyota Lexus Minority Owners Dealership Association (TLMODA), and supports numerous civic organizations such as 100 Black Men, the Urban League, Boys and Girls Club, and Jack and Jill of America. He is a member of the St. Joseph County and Elkhart chambers of commerce, Indiana Auto Dealers Association and is a member of Memorial Hospital’s Entrepreneurial Advisory Committee. Perry has also been inducted into the HistoryMakers in the BusinessMakers category for his contribution to the automobile industry, with his oral history archived in the Library of Congress.