Thursday, August 22, 2013

Raynham Auto Mile dealers endure recession.....

Many remember there was a car dealership that advertised 'we have no mortgages, we pay cash for our cars.....' 

During a recent conversation with several people who have worked in the industry for many years, DEBT was highlighted as mandating quotas and aggressive tactics. It's certainly something to consider.

Raynham Auto Mile dealers endure recession, invest in future

By Charles Winokoor
Posted Aug 06, 2013

Raynham auto mile renovations 1

Taunton Gazette Photo | Charles Winokoor

Route 44 Toyota in Raynham has been undergoing a massive renovation.

Auto Mile dealers on Route 44 say it’s not enough simply to have weathered the Great Recession of 2008. Some of them have been actively re-investing for the future in a big way.

The Route 44 Toyota dealership at 1154 New State Highway has been undergoing major renovations, including a new exterior facade and a new interior design. The price tag for the new look, according to company president Timothy Bruno, is a cool $1.2 million. [And hopefully, they repaired the leaking roof and the water-stained ceiling in the process. Pretty tacky!]

Bruno acknowledges that Toyota requires its franchisees to make improvements “now and then.” The Raynham store, he said, will now conform to the company’s Image USA II signature look and will sport new offices and furniture inside.

“We have to modernize,” he said.

But Bruno said no one forced him and his family to invest close to $5 million building a brand new Hyundai store on the same stretch of road.

That project, which began in 2010 and was completed in 2012, also entailed purchasing the formerly leased land where the old Hyundai building had been located.

Bruno said the auto industry in 2008 initially “took a dip” after the subprime mortgage housing bubble burst followed by “some big hits” in terms of plummeting sales and layoffs.

But he insists that both his franchises weathered the storm and suffered only a modest sales decrease, which he attributes to “brand loyalty.”

Part of that, he said, is also attributable to the central location of Raynham’s Auto Mile situated just off of Route 24 in between Boston and Fall River.

Bruno says he and his wife Denise have operated the Toyota dealership for 14 years. The Hyundai store, he said, has been run the past 13 years by Denise and her brothers Robert and Michael Barboza.

“The market’s coming back strong,” he said.

But he also said the “scrappage rate” of trade-ins have increased, with owners holding onto their cars much longer before shopping for a new auto.

Bruno said the Toyota store has been exceeding its monthly sales goal of 225 new and used vehicles by at least 25; he also claims that the Hyundai store is the number one dealership in New England, with around 150 sales per month compared to an average of 30 to 40 for most other dealers.

But he doesn’t discount the damage done to the auto business during the depths of the recession.

Bruno points to statistics indicating sales nationally dipped to 10 million; more recent industry estimates, he said, are for sales this year reaching 16 million.

Better Business Bureau: DMR Corp. D/B/A Route 44 Toyota



Domenic Grieco, general manager of Metro Ford and Kia on Route 44, said the recession forced him and his two brothers to resort to layoffs and follow the austerity management model of Ford Motor Company.

Better Business Bureau: Metro Motor Group

[Not accredited with the Better Business Bureau]

26 complaints filed against business
  • Failure to respond to 12 complaints filed against business
  • 1 complaint filed against business that was not resolved

  • “We re-sized our company by 15 percent in every department,” Grieco, 37, said.

    That re-sizing involved paring down his Ford staff from 90 to 60 and cutting a total of 80 positions throughout his family’s business — which includes more than a dozen stores in Johnston, R.I. as well as Florida.

    But he said the company now employs 420 people compared to 400 preceding the recession.

    Grieco says sales of Ford trucks, his bread and butter so to speak, are rebounding, thanks in part to aggressive cash-back and zero-interest financing incentives. He said for anyone looking for a new car or truck it’s “a buyer’s market.”

    “The housing market is rebounding and interest rates are still low,” Grieco said, adding that leasing has been on the upswing as well.

    But the big news for the Grieco family is their $3 million investment in buying up the corner lot near Church Street for a 23,400-square-foot Volkswagen retail facility.

    Grieco said his family bought the former Aulden Volkswagen in 2011 and subsequently moved it to the Middleboro site of the former Crossroads RV, which had gone out of business.

    “We saw it as a buyer’s market,” he said of the decision to add VW to the fold.

    Grieco said VW is price-competitive, especially the Passat, with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. And he’s convinced that shoppers in southeastern Massachusetts want more options.

    “It’s a chance for them to choose a European brand,” Grieco said.

    Norman DeFusco, who freelances as a consultant to the Greico’s, said VW is particularly aggressive in terms of leasing deals, which accounts for between 60 and 70 percent of its business.

    He also said the company has stayed competitive in terms of price point because of its massive manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., which opened in 2011 but has yet to become fully operational.

    “The Koreans and Germans are on the move and they want more market share in this country,” DeFusco said.

    Robert O’Koniewski, executive vice president of Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, said car sales in the state have been “on a rollercoaster.” He said truck sales plummeted below 20,000 in December 2012 compared to 27,000 sold five months earlier.

    Mr. O'Koniewski has revealed his uninformed, right wing ignorance with these un-called for comments below. And this man is supposed to provide business advice? Businesses in Massachusetts will see little or no change because of ROMNEY CARE, after the REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR who sought to distance himself from a healthcare program on which the Affordable Care Act was fashioned. It is solely Poor Republican Fiscal Policies that have created the current economic stagnation.

    Ahhh....maybe you might consider new leadership? 

    He said truck sales are making a slow recovery, in part because of entrepreneurs who lost jobs and are starting up their own business.

    O’Koniewski says car dealers “by nature are optimistic people to begin with,” while at the same time loathing uncertainty.

    Which is why he says a full economic recovery will continue to be stymied as long as government policies continue to inhibit investment.

    He singled out the Obamacare affordable health care act and “unfettered government restrictions” for dissuading businesses in general from investing in personnel and equipment.

    “I attribute it to bad government policies,” O’Koniewski said. “Until its fixed or eliminated we’re looking at the economy just staggering along.”

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