Month: May 2016

Concours ownership changes but high standards remain

By DAVID THOME Special to ADAMM A familiar name exited the Milwaukee-area automotive market recently when the Wuesthoff family sold Concours Motors, but the new owners built a name for themselves by scoring a string of national honors in their hometown of Memphis, Tenn. The Umansky Automotive Group LLC, headed by Dan Umansky, has taken ownership of Concours in Glendale. Umansky’s dealership in Memphis has received the Acura’s “Dealership of Distinction” award and has been one of the automaker’s “Precision Team Award” winners for 16 years. Ken Girard, Umansky’s Milwaukee platform manager, said the awards only go to the top 15% of Acura dealers. Founded in 1955 by champion racecar driver Bill Wuestoff, Concours sold a variety of import vehicles under one roof at 1400 W. Silver Spring Dr., Glendale, and BMWs at 5990 N. Green Bay Road. Umansky Motor Cars will sell Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen on Silver Spring and BMWs at the Green Bay Road location. Girard said Wuestoff and his son Karl, who succeeded Bill as head of Concours, set a high bar among generations of import car lovers, but Umansky has a track record of meeting similar expectations. “One thing we do is, we don’t just consider top managers as ‘the closers’,” Girard said. “Managers get out of the office and make sure the clients have all their questions answered completely so they can make...

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Previously leased cars a certified deal

By DAVID THOME Special to ADAMM Industry in good position to meet new fuel mandates Americans leased 4.4 million vehicles in 2013, about three-fourths of which will find their way into the pre-owned sections of new-car dealerships over the course of 2016 — creating a bonanza for frugal consumers who put low-mileage, original warranty coverage and dependability on the top of their must-have lists. That’s because previously leased, or “off-lease,” vehicles often qualify for manufacturers’ certified pre-owned vehicle programs. “Vehicles that come back from leases tend to hold their value, but they’re also just three years old and have 30,000 miles or so on them,” said Jim Slayton, sales manager for SCHMIT Ford in Thiensville. “That’s a used car you can expect to have for a long time when you consider that cars are now staying on the road for a quarter of a million miles.” Certified pre-owned vehicles are subjected to intense inspections — often covering nearly 200 items — before a manufacturer will agree to extend the full original new-car warranty or, in some cases, even add time or miles to the original. Furthermore, any problems that are found — including recall fixes — have to be addressed. Some manufacturers also offer certified pre-owned buyers perks such as free roadside assistance and navigation and satellite radio services for a few years. “With a certified vehicle, the buyer has...

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250,000 miles and counting

By DAVID THOME Special to ADAMM Today’s cars and trucks prove they’re in it for the long haul Today’s cars, like these 2016 Honda Accords, are built to last. Cars are lasting longer. That includes pickups, sedans, SUVs, compacts, crossovers, minivans – you name it. Luxury and budget models. American, European and Asian. Ten years ago, Consumer Reports estimated a buyer could expect a new vehicle to last eight years. In 2015, the research firm IHS Automotive reported that the actual average was just shy of 12 years — 50% better than predicted. Automotive experts list reasons ranging from intense free-market competition to stricter government-imposed standards, from tougher cylinder linings to computers doing jobs that used to belong to mechanical parts, and from high-tech rust-resistant paint to electronics that allow vehicles to send oil-change reminders to their owners. Local experts from SCHLOSSMANN’S Honda City in Greenfield, WILDE Toyota in West Allis and SCHMIT Ford in Thiensville say improved design and production techniques get a lot of credit. They also say that the bottom line is that buyers of new and pre-owned vehicles can expect a big bang for their buck in terms of longevity. “Every new car today,” AAA manager of technical services Mike Calkins told CBS News last fall, “is built to last a quarter of a million miles.” A week later, IHS executive Mark Seng told the...

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Jim Griffin aims high, achieves goals

Jim Griffin aims high, achieves goals By DAVID THOME Special to ADAMM Not everyone can be No. 1 — especially if Jim Griffin’s in the game. Two of his dealerships — GRIFFIN Ford of Waukesha and GRIFFIN’S HUB Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram of Milwau­kee — have been certified as Wiscon­sin’s sales volume leaders for 2015. You can excuse his other dealership, GRIF­FIN Chevrolet of Milwaukee, for not be­ing similarly honored: He’s only owned it since the middle of last year. Griffin cites the usual reasons for his stores’ success, like hard work (“I’m al­ways doing something, even when the doors are closed and the lights are turned off”) and starring in his own high-profile TV ad campaigns, but he also credits the will­ingness to adapt to changes in how cars are sold while also remaining focused on fundamentals that never change. “People used to come in and say, ‘Tell me the difference between such-and-such car you sell here and one of these or one of those from the guys down the street’,” Griffin said. “You’d talk about the product and the price and interest rates, but today there’s so much information on­line that people come in knowing all about the vehicles, the options, the price, how much their monthly payment should be. It’s not just about how you get people into the store, it’s how you treat them.” Griffin...

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