Tony Elam might be described as a CarMax lifer. A native of North Augusta, S.C., he interned at its now-defunct sister company, Circuit City, while he was studying finance at Clemson University. He ended up there after graduation in 2000 and went with CarMax after it was spun off.
"I can't underestimate the opportunities at CarMax," says the husband and father of two who lives in Varina. Work for Elam means going beyond keeping money straight for parts and capital improvement for CarMax's 129 stores coast to coast. It also means sharing his firm's commitment to the community. Elam says that means following the lead of Chief Executive Tom Folliard, a certifiable basketball freak.
Seven years ago, Folliard worked with the City of Richmond to set up a summertime basketball camp and league for as many as 500 inner-city youth, ages 10 to 17. The CarMax Summer Basketball League led to the refurbishing or building of three basketball courts at Pine Camp Arts and Community Center in the city's North Side. Financial whiz Elam oversaw the money and serves as the program's leader.
"We gave the kids something they didn't have," he says. "Awards banquets. Speakers." One was the mother of University of Maryland hoops great Leonard Bias, who died in 1986 of cocaine-related ailments just after he was drafted by the Boston Celtics. That team's assistant coach Kevin Eastman also spoke to the group.
"Tony gives 100 percent to whatever he does," says Leslie Parpart, manager of community relations at the CarMax Foundation. Elam played football as a child but watches basketball from the sidelines. He's also busy with the Police Athletic League, mentors students through Partnership for the Future and serves his church — as treasurer, naturally.