Monday, November 23, 2009

John Cousins, Gator travel agent is honored

It's not everyday that you come across a feel good story about a Used Car salesman, who is awarded for his integrity, and who is also not only a Gator but served as the Gators' travel agent since the Charlie Pell years, and can even dish on Tim Tebow.

For 30 years, [John Cousins] and his family have quietly grown their business by adhering to a code of ethics, keeping repeat customers and counting on word of mouth for new customers.

Cousins has worked behind the scenes on various community boards as well as serving as the volunteer travel agent for the Florida Gators football team since 1982.

His fellow dealers have returned his respect by naming Cousins the 2009 Florida Independent Automobile Dealers Association Quality Dealer of the Year. The award recognizes longevity, reputation and community involvement, according to the association, and makes him eligible for the national dealer of the year award.

And what is is association with the Gators and Tebow?

John Cousins is also retiring as the Gators’ unofficial travel agent, saying he wants to do more traveling himself. He has arranged Gators’ flights, catering and car rentals for away games since 1982, through head coaches Charlie Pell, Gaylen Hall, Ron Zook, Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer. He has worked most closely with Athletic Director Jeremy Foley, crediting him as the reason he has stuck with it.

“He is a gentleman that I have the utmost respect for,” Cousins said. “He’s great to work with.”

Cousins was first asked to handle a flight when his family ran National Car Rental at the Gainesville Regional Airport, which is also where his used car business was first located.

A perk of the arrangement is that he gets to travel with the Gators, which has given him an up-close perspective on the team and its superstar, Tim Tebow.

“He is genuinely the guy that you hear about, the smile right through to his personality. He is the real deal,” he said. “Along with the other players, this year is a real special group of guys. The character of the last few years has really been special.”

For the full story, which includes a tale or two of frightening air travel with past teams, click here.

Photo: Doug Finger/Gainesville Sun

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