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 intelligent decisions about the car they’re thinking about buying. We’re lucky to have people come into our showroom; we want them to know we appreciate that.”
He added that he and other managers, including general sales manager Young Lee, spent much of the first
two months after taking ownership getting to know long-term customers.
The Umansky Group’s website includes a manifesto declaring that “customers are the most important people in the business, whether we deal with them in person or by phone or social media. They are not dependent on us. We are dependent on them. They are not statistics. They are human beings with feelings and emotions like our own.”
Girard managed a Chicagoarea dealership that he called “the largest Acura store in the central time zone.”
He retired for three years — and moved to Arizona — before Dan Umansky asked him to oversee his group’s expansion
into the Milwaukee market. Experience selling luxury vehicles is a must, Girard said, because “the clients have very high expectations regarding the products and the purchasing experience.” People who favor German automobiles in particular, he
said, “appreciate craftsmanship, not just vehicles that have lots of features. To these buyers, a car is as much about craftsmanship as it is about engineering.” A Milwaukee television news report said Umansky planned to “welcome all Concours employees into the company” and would “model good corporate citizenship by supporting local projects and giving back to the community.” The Umansky website lists the Make-A-Wish Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the
American Heart Association, the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Memphis-area religious and health-care organizations. The website also says the Umansky group allows employees to serve in the military “while remaining team members,” and encourages community volunteerism.
One interesting coincidence about Umansky and Concours is that both built showrooms that exemplified new standards
set by the manufacturers. Umansky built a 64,000 square-foot showroom for Acura of Memphis in 2006 that the Memphis Business Journal called “a prototype national design.” Concours’s project was challenging because each of the five automakers at the time of its renovation of the Silver Spring store had distinct requirements for interior design, flooring materials, furnishings, lighting and entrances — plus detailed standards for exterior design and signs — that had to be blended into a cohesive whole.
General Manager Jim Clark said it took a year for each automaker to approve plans for its area in the store and to
sign off on transitions between areas. “It took year of planning and designing and waiting for approvals,”
he said when the work was finished in 2014, “but we’re excited about the result.”