Original GM ASEP grad owns Country Chevrolet in Annandale
Pat Francis, 53, earned his Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) from Dakota County Technical College in 1986 as a member of the first graduating class of the General Motors Automotive Service Educational Program (GM ASEP). Today, Pat is the franchise owner of Country Chevrolet in Annandale, Minnesota.
Originally from South St. Paul, Pat took on his role at Country Chevrolet in 1992. He has 30+ years of experience selling cars for Chevrolet, an iconic American car company founded in 1911 by Louis Chevrolet, legendary Swiss race car driver, and William C. Durant, U.S. automobile pioneer and GM co-founder.
Pat related that a typical day for him starts at 7 a.m. at his home in Maple Grove, Minnesota, about a 45-minute drive from his dealership. He has coffee with his wife, Nancy, and they discuss what they’re going to do that day.
“I usually pick up a customer’s car for service, leaving my car at their home,” Pat said. “I have a large customer base in Maple Grove. I spend the rest of the morning at online auctions buying vehicles for our used-car inventory. During the afternoon, I order new cars and then work with customers visiting our dealership.”
Pat related that regularly meeting new people is a highlight of his work. He gets home around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; Monday and Wednesday evenings are reserved for pickleball, one of his favorite pastimes.
“Every day is different and I’m always taking on new challenges,” he said. “The automotive business is constantly changing—the technology advances so quickly. My day is never boring.”
Country Chevrolet gallery
Giving back to DCTC
In May 2019, Pat returned to the DCTC campus to deliver the keynote address to a new graduating class of GM ASEP students. His speech centered on how automotive technicians can leverage a college education to excel in their chosen industry.
“I had never given a commencement address so I was happy when the GM ASEP instructors invited me,” Pat said, “but I worried for a month about giving the speech. One of the biggest things I wanted to get across to the graduates is how they need to bring honesty and integrity to their new careers.”
2019 GM ASEP Graduation gallery
For more event photos, view the DCTC Flickr album:
More about Pat…
Pat grew up with 10 siblings, eight brothers and three sisters. He graduated from South St. Paul High School in 1984. He chose DCTC because he liked working with his hands and was interested in getting a technical education. He still has his original toolbox from his college days (right). Pat actually attended two colleges, DCTC for technical courses and Inver Hills Community College for his general education courses. Both DCTC and Inver Hills are listed on his diploma.
In his free time, Pat enjoys fishing (bass because they’re easier to catch; walleye because they taste better), goose hunting and wildflower gardening. He also likes relaxing at the family cabin on Lake Sylvia near Annandale.
Pat’s wife, Nancy, is a retired para professional. She taught at an elementary school in Osseo Area School District 279. Pat and Nancy have two children. Grant, 23, graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth, with a communications degree. He works as a project execution team lead at Archway, a marketing logistics and supply chain management company. Coco, 20, is a junior studying biomedical engineering at Union College in Schenectady, New York. She is also an NCAA Division 1 goalie on the Union Dutchwomen’s ice hockey team.
“Pat is a shining example of what someone can achieve in the automotive industry through education, initiative and hard work. The GM ASEP program is proud to have been a part of Pat’s journey to success!”
GM ASEP Faculty
Dakota County Technical College
- The Series C Classic Six, introduced in 1913, was the first Chevrolet model.
- The Chevrolet Suburban, introduced in 1935, is the longest running automobile nameplate in continuous production.
- Chevrolet first showcased the Corvette Stingray concept sports car in 1959.
- Chevrolet is #63 on the Forbes list of World’s Most Valuable Brands 2019 with a brand value of $10.7 billion.
- Chevrolet brand is sold in more than 130 countries around the world.
- Chevrolet represents 50 percent of GM’s total global volume.
- Corvette Racing at 24 Hours of Le Mans has produced eight wins in 18 starts since 2000.
- Chevrolet debuted the Camaro in 1966 after reviewing 2,000 name ideas, including Panther, a top contender.
- The name “Camaro” is basically meaningless, but aficionados like to believe the camaro is a “small, vicious animal that eats mustangs.”
- William C. Durant developed the iconic Chevrolet bowtie emblem in 1912 after seeing the Southern Compressed Coal Company logo in a newspaper ad.
Pat Francis • Q & A
What is one thing every GM ASEP student should know?
Make sure you are honest with yourself and your customers.
What is your business philosophy?
Show up for work, work hard and go home happy.
What do you like best about owning a GM dealership?
I get to help a lot of people make a living and grow a family of their own.
Three words that describe you as business owner and operator:
HONEST. HELPFUL. AVAILABLE.
What is the most challenging aspect of running your own business?
What advice would you give students thinking about launching careers in the automotive industry?
Get going—it’s a fast-paced, always changing industry. You will always be challenged.
Where do you see the automotive industry in 10 years?
Fifty percent electric vehicles and new U.S. car sales topping 20 million
Why are internships important for GM ASEP students?
Internships help offset the cost of school while giving students some confidence to later work on their own.
One word that best describes your experience at DCTC:
Pat Francis • 12 Answers
- Favorite sport or physical activity: Pickleball
- Place you would most like to visit: Honolulu, Hawaii
- The most exciting thing you’ve ever done: Float plane ride
- Three things you would do if you won a $1 billion lottery: Get all 10 of my brothers and sisters on payroll.
- Favorite TV show you’re watching now: Billions
- Best movie you’ve seen lately: A Star Is Born
- One thing you most want to accomplish in life: Take care of my family financially.
- Your national bird if you were your own country: Bald eagle—you can’t be better than that.
- Dream occupation: Bobcat stump grinder operator
- Person you would most like to meet: Zac Brown—I’ve been to a bunch of his concerts, but haven’t had the chance to meet him yet.
- Skill you would most like to learn and master: Woodworking
- Most important issue or problem facing humankind: Respect for the law & respect for authority
Learn more about GM ASEP at DCTC by contacting:
GM ASEP Faculty
GM ASEP Faculty