Kendall Richards Leads Veterans on Their Last Ride
Dallas-native Kendall Richards was emphatic he’d never go into the car business. “My Dad owned a VW-Audi dealership for 30 years and I wanted nothing to do with the family business,” he said.
After graduating Hillcrest High School in 1980, Richards got his undergraduate degree at Stephen F. Austin. Then he enlisted in the US Air Force, where he achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant. He spent four years (1983-87) as an active air traffic controller at Kelly AFB in San Antonio, then was an air traffic control instructor at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, MS 1987-1990.
“I served on the Honor Guard at Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi,” he says, “It was a very special duty, but I thought I was done with that part of my life when I got out.”
While still in the Air Force, Richards got his MBA from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. After working at EDS in IT, he moved into the mortgage banking business until the economic bust of 2008, when a friend suggested he consider Park Place Lexus Plano.
“I can do this for a while until something else comes along,” he thought. He steadily rose up the ranks at Lexus Plano from Sales Consultant to Internet Sales, Finance Director to New Car and Pre-owned Sales Manager before moving to Park Place Jaguar-Land Rover DFW a year ago.
“A friend’s dad knew I liked to ride my Harley, and he asked if I’d be interested in joining the Patriot Guard Riders,” explained Richards. The Patriot Guard Riders is a volunteer, non-profit organization which ensures dignity and respect at memorial services honoring fallen active duty military, first responders and honorably discharged veterans.
According to the organization’s website, The Patriot Guard Riders can be requested by anyone with the family's permission. A common misconception is that volunteers must be a veteran or ride a motorcycle to join the PGR. While the majority of members are veterans and do ride motorcycles, many have never served a day in the military and many attend missions in their vehicles. The common bond is an unwavering respect for those who risk their lives for America's freedom and security.
“I was hooked from the first mission! The majority of our rides are at DFW National Cemetery, but this one was a service for a 95-year-old World War II vet at a little country cemetery in Savoy, Texas. When his kids and grandkids got up and spoke about his life, it made me want to be a better Dad, grandfather, and friend.”
ƒor the past year, Tuesdays have been Richards’ day off. “I’m the first guy they call for a Tuesday funeral.” And that’s just the way he wants it.
“I see myself riding with the PGR for a very long time. I look forward to getting more involved after I retire.” But he doesn’t see himself retiring any time soon. “I really enjoy building relationships with my clients. I like to make the car buying experience fun for people.”
Richards and his wife Heather live in Frisco, where they’re active members of Hope Fellowship’s Frisco East campus. He has two daughters, Kristin and Kelsey, who are both educators and married with children of their own. He loves being a grandfather to Taylor, Cole, Lincoln and Riven.
Richards currently serves as a sales experience manager at Park Place Jaguar Land Rover DFW in Grapevine.
Park Place Dealerships was founded in 1987. For the past 34 years, the company has been engaged in the community through its support of the arts, medical research, children’s advocacy and education. Park Place employs more than 1,400 members and operates eight full-service dealerships representing luxury brands including Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover. For more info, visit parkplace.com.