Our Team

Mike Absher
Chief Executive Officer

I was born and raised in Southern Illinois. I grew up in a "car family" on both the maternal and paternal-side as both of my grandfathers and  both parents were car dealers. I started working in the shop as a custodian starting at age 12, and worked at the dealership until graduation from high school. I graduated Marion (Illinois) High School and then was admitted to and attended the United States Military Academy at West Point New York with the intention of being a career Army officer. I ultimately left the Academy and the Army voluntarily and returned home. I then enrolled in SIU-Carbondale and graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a concentration in entrepreneurship. I worked at the family dealership throughout my college years as a warranty administrator and service writer. Upon graduation, I was employed as Parts and Service Director, sales manager, used vehicle manager until I left the family company in 2003 to start a software firm named DealerWare LLC selling F&I Menu Selling software to car dealerships. We were very successful and this was the wildest ride of my life. We ultimately were endorsed by American Honda and were in the process of rolling out our software to the Honda dealerships nationwide, when our biggest competitor decided to take me out. And so, they did, and I sold DealerWare in 2006 to DealerTrack, Inc. I decided to get back into the business I missed so much and purchased Marion Ford, Inc in my hometown. I have since purchased three other dealerships in Marion, IL; Harrisburg, IL; Paducah, KY; and Madisonville KY, and that has evolved into the Watermark Auto Group. I most recently opened a used car dealership in Harrisburg, Illinois. I have played the trumpet for nearly 38 years, and enjoy every opportunity I get to play in a brass quintet with some friends from high school and college. I also enjoy woodworking, and have lots of cool equipment that is really dangerous, but I never turn on because I am too busy in the car business. I have been married for 21 years to Cheryl, who is a licensed non-practicing attorney. We have three sons aged 16, 13, and 10.I recently retired from service on the Southern Illinois Healthcare Board of Trustees which is the largest employer in our region with 3300 associates. I serve as the President of our local school board, and enjoy lending my time and talents to all organizations that are crazy or desperate enough to want or need my help.
Brad Poole
Chief Operations Officer

Brad graduated from high school in West Frankfort in 1987 but, he'll be the first person to tell you that he is from Ohio. Brad still wears Buckeye underoos. They are the underwear that's fun to wear! After high school, Brad attended John A. Logan College and then transferred to SIU, graduating in 1991. Although Brad had never considered the car business, he found a home at Marion Ford Hyundai. Brad has worked at the dealership since 1992 and has held the positions of Salesperson, Body Shop Manager, Sales Manager, and is currently the General Manager at Watermark Ford Hyundai of Marion.  In addition, he is partners with Mike Absher at Watermark Nissan of Marion and is the Chief Operating Officer of the Watermark Auto Group.  Brad has never used the phrase "not my job". Ensuring that the employees and customers are happy is Brad's primary reason for coming to work everyday. Brad has a can-do attitude and he always, always practices forward motion never letting life or any situation discourage him. When Brad isn't working he's mowing, playing sports, watching sports or putting an obligatory beatdown on Jon Wofford on the tennis court. However, his favorite past time is spending time with his bosses, wife Melanie and daughter Mackenzie who is attending Saint Louis University.

David Griffin
Chief Financial Officer

David was born and raised in Marion.  His first job in the car business was at age 16 sweeping the shop and washing cars at Absher Motors and he continued to work there throughout college.  After graduating from Millikin University, David moved to St. Louis, worked at the Federal Reserve Bank and earned his MBA from St. Louis University.  In 2007, he moved back to Marion and helped start Easy Street, the in-house finance company at Watermark. Along with that role, he now oversees the accounting, financial reporting, HR and IT operations for the company.  Most recently, David helped Mike and Brad start Watermark Insurance Group.  David has two sons - Jake and Josh. Jake is a student at the University of Southern Indiana and Josh attends Marion High School.  David and his boys are huge baseball fans and are on a quest to visit all the Major League parks!


Juan Pablo Gonzalez
Chief Information Officer

Juan Pablo, or JP as everyone calls him at the office, was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia (South America). He recently immigrated to the U.S. with his wife and two kids, and settled down in Marion. Although officially employed with Watermark since October, 2015, he has been developing software for the company since 2012, and has worked with Mike since around 2001.Officially licensed as an Industrial Engineer, JP has worked with software throughout his career, and did his MBA with an emphasis in MIS. He was also recognized by Microsoft as a Most Valuable Professional for Microsoft Excel, an award given to less than 100 people around the world.He loves to travel, a passion he shares with his wife, photography, technology and spending time with his family.



Kerri Bradford
Assistant to the CEO

Kerri is from West Frankfort, where she was born and raised.  She now lives in Marion with her family.  After Kerri graduated from high school, she attended Southern Illinois University of Carbondale and earned a Bachelors Degree of Science in Marketing.   Although Kerri is new to the automotive industry, she has had several years of experience in sales and finance.  She loves the car business and won't ever want to leave! Kerri and her husband, Rock have a daughter, Khloe and a son, Kash, who keep them both on their toes and their hearts filled with love and laughter. 

Stephanie White
Human Resources

Stephanie is a life long resident of Marion IL. The words, "not my job; have never been spoken by Stephanie. Here are just some of her roles during her 20+ year tenure: receptionist, title clerk, F&I manager, service manager, human resources manager, customer relations manager, and acting rental manager. Her willingness to help both the customers and employees makes her one of our greatest assets. When Stephanie gets away from the dealerships, she loves spending time with her husband, Brad, and children Braden and Bailey.


Judy Widener

G. I. Judy is originally from Portage, Indiana and now lives in Herrin. Judy's tour of duty started at Marion Ford Hyundai started in 2006, but she has been in the car business for over 35 years. We are so lucky to have someone so disciplined with the dealerships finances as well as the customers. It took a little time for her to adapt to all the friendly faces around here, but now she is one of our best pranksters. She has truly become a major part of the Watermark family. Judy's home family consists of one of the finest K9's walking on four legs. Emmi takes care of her when she isn't crunching the numbers here at the dealership. Judy is without question, one of our greatest assets. 

Cheryl Absher

Joann Adams

Joann is originally from Marion.  She started with Watermark Ford of Marion in 2004 in the Business Development Center, but has now joined the accounting office. Joann always tries to maintain an optimistic attitude. When she isn't here, she is spending time with her daughter Jessi and her grandson Grayson.


Shelby Burris

Shelby made the jump into the auto business here in August 2013.  She is originally from Cobden - Go Appleknockers!  She moved to Carterville with her husband Brandon in 2013.  She enjoys cooking, reading, crafting and home décor.  Most of all, she love spending time with her husband Brandon and their two children, Gage and Lainie.

Carri Carey
Accounting Coordinator

Carri joins from nearby Herrin.  She has over 22 years of experience in the car business.  Carri stays busy at home taking her son, Austin and daughter, Madelyn, to do all of their activities AND.. she still finds time to scrapbook.  We are glad to have Carri here on our team!

Sharon Cole
Brandi Eaton
We struck gold when Brandi decided to bring her talents to the Watermark Auto Group.  Her picture could be in the dictionary next to the phrase, "hard worker'!  When she isn't working, she loves spending time with her family.  We are blessed to have Brandi on the team!



Stephanie Griffin

Stephanie is from right here in Marion, born and raised.  She has worked previously at one of our dealerships and is now a title clerk in our accounting department.  Stephanie enjoys watching movies and musicals and likes to read.  She also loves watching her nephews play baseball and basketball.  Stephanie has three cats, Theo, Baxter and Charlie!


Sarah Hogan

Sarah is originally from West Frankfort, Illinois but moved to Marion in 2013. Sarah started her career in the car business at Watermark Ford Hyundai of Marion in 2005. She has had many roles within a dealership and is now processing warranty claims for the group. Sarah always has one goal in mind, customer satisfaction. Sarah is an outstanding person and employee. She and husband, Chris, have a daughter, Marley. 


Jessica Sims

Jessica was born and raised in Johnston City, Illinois.  She has been with Watermark since 2011, working in different departments throughout the years, but has been steadily working in the accounting office for the last few.   When she is not working, she is usually spending time with her son Grayson, family, and friends.  Grayson could possibly be the sweetest and nicest young man you would ever meet.  To say he takes after his mom, would be an understatement!

Todd Smedshammer

Todd was born in Minnesota but spent most of his childhood here in Marion, IL and now resides in Herrin with his wife Sherry and their daughters Harper & Quinn. Todd has been with us since 2006 and represents the male population in the accounting office. Todd is the calming presence in the office. Every now and then we have to check his pulse to make sure he is still with us. When Todd isn't here at work, he is either reading, rooting for the Twins, or playing with his two daughters, Harper & Quinn.

Kailey Lynn

Kailey is from Marion, Illinois and has been with Watermark for several years.  Since day one, she has been so helpful to our customers and to her peers.  She keeps growing professionally and has become an incredible member of the team.  We can always count on a big smile and a sincere laugh from Kailey right when we need it most.  She loves spending time with her family and working on her new home.  

Crystal Oxendine

Crystal was born and raised and in Herrin, Illinois.  When she started working at Watermark Ford, she was processing wholesale and dealer trades and has tackled just about everything in the accounting office. She loves spending time with her family and friends, playing darts, singing (but has stage fright) and WORK (wait, that's a hobby?)!  Her favorite sports teams are any that her husband isn't cheering for, unless it's football.  Then she cheers for husband's team, the Dallas Cowboys.   Crystal's husband, Brad is a professional dart player and although she does play, she's very happy when her darts just stick in the board.  Crystal and Brad have two handsome little guys, Gavin and Grant! 
Shane Grinnel
Watermark Insurance Group

Elizabeth Moore
Watermark Insurance Group

Brittny Reising
Watermark Insurance Group