The CEO and chairman of Ed Morse Automotive Group talks about growing up in the business—and what he learned along the way

■ When I was 15, I detailed cars for my dad at our Mazda store in Coconut Creek. I didn’t even get to clean the new cars coming off the truck; I had to detail cars that were coming out of the body shop that had overspray on them. I’m out there with a 40-pound buffer on the side of the vehicle, it’s August, and it’s 99 degrees.

■ One day, my dad pulls up in this Corvette. He rolls down the window. “Hey, it’s lunchtime.” I put the buffer down and wiped the sweat from my face. He’s like, “No, no, no. You have cars to do. I’m going to lunch. I just wanted to know if you wanted me to pick up McDonald’s on my way back.”

■ My dad had me work every job in the dealership as I was growing up. I can’t tell you how much that means to me now. From that experience, I understand what our employees do—and I care about what they do because I’ve worked the same jobs. What my dad did for me was invaluable.

■ You can’t hold other people accountable unless you hold yourself accountable first.

■ We have close to 1,000 employees, and you figure every person is responsible for maybe a spouse and a couple of children, so what is that—3,000 to 3,500 people who rely on our company doing well? That’s a sobering thought.

■ If you take care of your employees, they will take care of you. By treating our employees with the utmost respect, they will take ownership of the business and take care of our customers.

■ Your phone can only take you so far [in this day and age]. It can take your eyes far away, but it can’t take you. There is a difference between seeing things and experiencing things.

The Morse File

■ Ed Morse Automotive Group—which includes five Cadillac dealerships—is one of the region’s largest private companies.

■ Teddy’s grandfather, Ed, founded Morse Motors in 1946 as a rental car company.

■ The company had $1.32 billion in sales for 2016, according to Automotive News, selling 11,238 vehicles.

■ Teddy joined the corporate staff in 2012; he became CEO last year after the death of his father, Ted.