After dropping off his youngest daughter at cheerleading practice, Dean Hovis had parked his car at the parking lot and walked toward his workplace.
It was 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, an hour before the business hours, and Dean was already sitting in front of his desk. Messages kept his phone ringing as he was checking on the files on the computer. Dean had some coffee, put on his glasses, and started his day of work.
“I like to get here earlier and have things done when we don’t have many customers yet,” Dean said.
During the day, he is one of the busiest employees in the building.
Dean took the job as a salesman at Joe Machens Toyota 15 years ago because of his passion for cars. His co-worker, Ryan Reynolds, described him as “a down-to-earth, straightforward, and personable individual.”
Finance Manager Andrew McWhorter works directly with Dean. He said Dean was the kind of person who could get along with anyone.
“I have never seen an angry customer that comes from him,” McWhorter said.
Dean has spent most of his career dealing with people. His lighthearted personality has made him one of the customers’ favorite salesmen and a reliable co-worker.
“I like watching people laugh,” he said. “I make jokes a lot because life will be easier this way.”
Dean looks after the internet department and leads a small team that is responsible for internet sales and advertising. Meanwhile, he sells cars directly. It’s not a rare thing to see him running back and forth in the building while talking to varieties of people and trying to work between customers and his co-workers from other departments.
Family is what matters
Behind his desk is a card with a selfie he took when he had dressed up as a pirate at a Halloween costume party.
“When you’re needin’ a carrr, let Cap’n Dean be on the lookout for that perfect schooner for you an’ your mateys,” it says.
A pirate is a fantasy he has always had for his life.
“I like boats, and I will probably retire some places that have a lot of water,” Dean said.
However, family is a larger source of happiness for him.
Dean is a father of three – Jennifer Hovis, 27, Logan Hovis, 17, and Paige Hovis, 11.
“Seriously, Paige? You can’t deal with your own things?” Dean picked up the phone as he was walking away from his desk and had to pause his conversation with the customer.
“He is a family person,” McWhorter said. “He talks a lot about his daughters.”
On his phone, the wallpaper is a picture of his three daughters, standing next to each other while smiling beautifully.
“Family to me is like unconditional support,” Dean’s daughter Logan said. “We all have the same sense of humor, so when we get together, we’re really funny and making each other laugh. We just get along really well.”
Unlike many other people in their 50s, Dean is an experienced “netizen” who owns various social media accounts: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and even Tik Tok. One of the reasons for his many social media accounts is his job as an Internet Sales Manager. But he also sees social media as a bridge to bond with his daughters.
Dean talked about his previous job as a counselor at Division of Youth Service and working with troubled juveniles.
“Kids make bad decisions and do stupid things,” he said. “Friend is not what I see as my job. Me and my daughters are close but I’m their father.”
Logan said that his dad cared a lot about their self-discipline.
“He is kind of strict on me about my grades,” Logan said. “But I just know it because he sees me as a really good student, so he wants me to do really well.”
“For my 11-year-old Paige, her primary job is to keep her room clean and bring me the dirty laundry. God, she’s been wearing the same jeans for three weeks,” Dean laughed. “Last time she locked the door (to keep me out of her room), I removed the door handle, so she can’t lock it.”
Although Dean has the thought of moving to Florida in the future, he said he would stay around Columbia with his children if they chose to stay. After all, the family is his priority, and he takes care of them.
Guidance from God
In addition to his job and family, God is important to Dean’s life as well.
Dean grew up going to church with his family on Sundays at Midway Locust Grove Methodist Church, and he keeps this habit to the day. Dean’s sister, Julie Bader, drives an hour from Bevier, where she currently lives with her husband, to Columbia to join the family at church.
“Without God in my life, I wouldn’t have guidance in my life,” Dean said.
Sharing the same religious belief is part of the reason why the Hovis family sticks very closely. They have brought the sense of community at church to their own family.
“I go to church right now with my grandpa, because my grandma recently passed away, and I don’t want him to go to church alone,” Dean’s daughter Logan said. “Religion definitely plays a really big role in my whole family. We’re all pretty religious people, and we all definitely have that belief system that we grow up with. It influences a lot of the things we do.”
“I’ve been very fortunately blessed,” Dean said.
As the sun went down, Dean turned off his computer, grabbed his car key and drove back to his house.
At the end of the day, the family gathered around and prayed for the dinner. The house was full of laughter again.