Massachusetts




                 DEALER
             AUTODEALER
      The official publication of the Massachusetts Stat...
INSIDE



                                      on the cover
                                                             ...
COVER STORY: DEALER OF THE YEAR


Empire Builder                                       by Lee Goodwin and Meredith Spencer...
COVER STORY: DEALER OF THE YEAR

Empire Builder...continued from page 12

Chambers had become the largest Canon           ...
COVER STORY: DEALER OF THE YEAR



 The ‘40-Group’ Review                                                                 ...
COVER STORY: DEALER OF THE YEAR


THE EVIL EMPIRE
Asked about Chambers’ expansion plans – specifically           ability t...
DEALER OF THE YEAR


The Jewel in the Crown




At the espresso bar in Chambers’ Lexus store, customers can enjoy lattes, ...
DEALER OF THE YEAR

A (Reluctant) Public Face
Like many dealers before him, Chambers has become the public face for
his de...
DEALER OF THE YEAR


                                                             Keeping Up with
                        ...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Herb Chambers, the Auto Dealer and Empire Builder Opens Another Dealership

2,784

Published on

Herb Chambers, the Auto Dealer and Empire Builder of Boston, MA Opens Another Dealership

Published in: Automotive, Business
1 Comment
1 Like
Statistics
Notes
No Downloads
Views
Total Views
2,784
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
7
Comments
1
Likes
1
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Herb Chambers, the Auto Dealer and Empire Builder Opens Another Dealership

  1. 1. Massachusetts DEALER AUTODEALER The official publication of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, Inc. APPETITE for Opportunity InsideCOVER: Herb Chambers - Dealer of the Year Take the * Out of Advertising: The Attorney General may be just getting started PERMIT NO. 216 Guarding Yourself From Safeguards: The rule is here to BOSTON, MA stay, ignore it at your peril. US POSTAGE PAID FIRST-CLASS MAIL MSADA, 59 Temple Place, Ste 505, Boston, MA 02111 F E B R UA RY 2 0 0 8 VO L U M E 2 1 N O. 1
  2. 2. INSIDE on the cover table of contents Herb Chambers is the Dealer of the Year ‘You have to ‘Expect 2008 PHOTO CREDIT: ANTHONY work it – ‘The AG will ‘You could be light vehicle SCARPETTA PHOTOGRAPHY 6 really live 8 not stop with 9 sales to fall 10 unwinding and breathe these eight EVERY deal Massachusetts about since May 2003’ AUTODEALER KIA .’ dealers.’ 2.5 percent’ The official publication of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, Inc. 6 IN THE NEWS: Silko Kia joins nine other Kia dealerships that have closed their doors over the past EDITORIAL STAFF 18 months. But others, including Kia Sports Auto World in Bourne, are going strong. Bedard Brothers Lee Goodwin David L. Williams takes over Gateway Chevrolet. Hassan Brothers settles its termination lawsuit with Jeep. Lowell Chrysler PRINTING & LAYOUT Dodge closes its doors. Lia Toyota begins expansion. Ira donates to Danvers diversity. Dealers report that Blanchard Press Massachusetts customers are finding loans for autos despite the credit crunch. Dealers – furious about 25 Drydock Avenue, Boston, MA 02210 anonymous online consumer gripes criticizing their stores – fight back. And more. SUBSCRIPTIONS Provided annually to Massachusetts dealers. All address changes should be submitted to: 8 POLITICAL ACTION: Attorney General Martha Coakley handed down nearly $300,000 worth of MSADA fines to state dealers. Could your advertising end up costing you? 59 Temple Place, Ste. 505 Boston, MA 02111 Phone 617.451.1051 Fax 617.451.9309 e-mail: lgoodwin@msada.org 10 KEEP YOUR GUARD UP: The Safeguards Rule has caused expensive headaches since its Auto Dealer is published by the Massachusetts State inception. If the FTC doesn’t get you, plaintiffs’ attorneys will. How to navigate the rules and keep your Automobile Dealers Association to provide information dealership out of trouble. about the Bay State auto retail industry and news of MSADA and its membership. 12 COVER STORY: Dealer of the Year An outsider who made his mark in the office copier Application to mail at Periodical-Class business, Herb Chambers turned to cars 25 years ago. Today he’s an empire builder with an eye for Postage rates pending at Boston, MA 02205 and additional mailing offices. opportunity, and he’s the Time Magazine Dealer of the Year nominee. Postmaster: Send address changes to: Massachusetts Auto Dealer c/o MSADA 20 CONTRIBUTORS: NCDPAC Supporters Thanks to those who gave generously to the New Car 59 Temple Place, Ste. 505 Boston, MA 02111 Dealer PAC: Your voice on Beacon Hill. And to the Dealers Election Action Committee: Your voice in STAFF DIRECTORY Washington. David Williams Executive Vice President 21 POLITICAL ACTION: All The President’s Men Massachusetts members of the DEAC dwilliams@msada.org President’s Club say the PAC is the best investment a dealer can make. Isn’t it time to join the club? Robert O’Koniewski Director of Legal & Government Affairs rokoniewski@msada.org 22 NADA UPDATE: The EPA decision to deny California's waiver request will face opposition. NADA Lee Goodwin supports the national CAFE increase recently signed into law, and argues that a patchwork of state Director of Communications & Marketing environmental regulations will cause confusion and harm. lgoodwin@msada.org Irene Varao Director of Administration ivarao@msada.org Tricia White Accounting and Membership Manager twhite@msada.org Mike Nixon AYES State Manager advertisersdirectory MassAYES@msada.org Please note the following advertisers who have invested in this magazine and directly support the Sam Poikail MSADA. Thank you for supporting the MSADA. Information Technology & Member Information Manager spoikail@msada.org ADVERTISER PAGE ADVERTISER ........................................PAGE Carina Gonzalez Foundation Coordinator The Boston Globe ........................................2 McCarter & English, LLP ..............................5 cgonzalez@msada.org Starr Cooper Boston Herald............................................24 Murtha Cullina, LLP ....................................7 Administrative Coordinator GW Marketing Services..............................15 Nancy Phillips Associates, Inc.....................11 scooper@msada.org Meredith Spencer Kirker-Perry Construction Co. ......................5 O’Connor & Drew PC ................................23 Editorial Assistant editorial@msada.org Leader Auto Resources (LAR) ....................18 Southern Auto Auction ................................5 Jeffrey Mui Lynnway Auto Auction ..................................9 Zurich ........................................................3page continued on next Administrative Assistant jmui@msada.org 4 february 2008 massachusetts auto dealer www.msada.org
  3. 3. COVER STORY: DEALER OF THE YEAR Empire Builder by Lee Goodwin and Meredith Spencer When people look at Herb Chambers, they see the accoutrements of wealth and a stable of dealerships. So why would a guy at the top of his game give a damn if the mechanics’ bathrooms are clean? When you understand that, you’ll begin to understand Herb Chambers. You know the jingle. “We’ve got it. At Herb Chambers we’ve got it.” It could just as easily apply to the man. Herb the largest independent distributor of office he says, the key to sales is simply being nice to Chambers has got it. equipment in the United States. And they always people. include how Chambers went looking for a He’s got the 40-odd dealerships including his Cadillac and ended up buying a dealership. A-Copy Becomes Ikon-ic palatial Lexus store in Sharon (see side story). He’s got homes in Boston and Connecticut, and The office world was moving from mimeograph The Central Question he’s got a helicopter to commute between the and carbon paper to photocopy. In 1965 he two. For long distance commuting he owns a None of those stories asks the central question. founded his own company with just $500 new Gulfstream 450 Jet. He’s got a rotating How did an outsider with no automotive borrowed from his mother. He named it A-Copy, collection of 15 to 20 exotic and collectible cars experience build such a formidable organization? so it would be listed first in the phone book. in his garage, and he’s got a 188-foot yacht if What keeps Herb Chambers – the man and the Chambers used his savvy as both technician and dry land becomes dull. organization – going, and growing? salesman to purchase used copiers, then fix and resell them. And now he has the 2008 Time Magazine Dealer Following his time in the Navy, Chambers began of the Year nomination and he’s the state’s working for a copy machine company, first as a His success snowballed. His competitors dealer of the year. technician and later as leader of its #1 sales guaranteed repair in 24-hours. A-Copy promised team. to fill service requests in When the press writes about Chambers, they eight hours – and in the follow a tight narrative. How as a youngster He made the transition to early days Chambers growing up in Dorchester, he thought the local sales by selling extended warranties while servicing the “The first time himself made the service dealer possessed untold wealth. With his nose I met him, call. pressed up against the showroom window, he machines – so many marveled at how many cars the businessman warranties that management I said to myself, Chambers sold his “owned.” took notice and expanded his ‘This guy is electric’” business in 1983 to Ikon, territory. Speaking to people recalls then known as Alco- How, following a four-year stint in the Navy, he in a sales context was difficult, Standard, which was opted for a paycheck instead of school. He never John Covell but a Dale Carnegie course attempting to consolidate attended college. How he founded a copy boosted his confidence. Today, independents like A-Copy. machine company that would go on to become Herb Chambers Lexus in Sharon opened in fall 2007. Chambers and his team toured the country seeking design ideas to incorporate into the 110,000,000 square-foot dealership.
  4. 4. COVER STORY: DEALER OF THE YEAR Empire Builder...continued from page 12 Chambers had become the largest Canon He wanted a business involved in distribution, Keeping Up Morale distributor in the world. a mix of new and used products, and something Adopting the mindset of a customer is just one service intensive. What he didn’t want was key to his success. (Chambers’ service How to Buy Companies to compete any longer against the likes of IBM departments wash and vacuum every car that The addition of A-Copy represented “a big and Xerox. rolls through). feather in the cap” of Alco-Standard, lending its His ability to inspire and turn over management control to others is also key. He expects his GMs – he refers to them as his “partners” – to fix their own problems and run their dealerships as independently as possible. He has a saying: “We lead people and manage information.” He also subscribes to the adage: Trust but verify. For example, he demands that his technician bathrooms be inspected once a month. When he discovered one recently The 40-Group: Chambers (center) with his 40-plus GMs. They gather every month to present detailed results and toss around ideas. Chambers dissects the numbers and exhorts his managers to find where opportunities exist. that was a mess, he hit the roof. “People may wonder why that's No Pre-Conceived Notions consolidation strategy “instant credibility” and important. The restrooms aren’t public and the helping the Fortune 500 company grow into one Not long after he purchased the first dealership techs spend more time with cars than of the dominate players in the office equipment in New London, Connecticut – where he walked customers. I ask, ‘What about morale?’ If they industry worldwide. Alco became a $20 billion in looking for an El Dorado and walked away don’t enjoy good morale, they may not fix the dollar company and Chambers its largest single owning the business – he set his sights on car right.’” shareholder. expansion. By 1997, just 10 years later, On the sales side, new sales people spend two Chambers had 15 dealerships spread over “The first time I met him, I said to myself, ‘This weeks with Covell. He likes to point out that new Rhode Island and Massachusetts and sold guy is electric,’” recalls John Covell, director sales consultants win MVP honors every month 24,000 cars. of Marketing and Training. He first joined along with seasoned employees at a monthly Chambers at A-Copy in 1981 from Xerox. “He From day one Chambers generated ideas of how motivational breakfast. Every year Chambers was so exciting and intense about what he to conduct business differently. A confirmed car hosts an elaborate gala, rewarding top was doing. There was this [atmosphere of] nut, he began buying and selling cars in the performers with Rolex watches and cash. Top entrepreneurship.” Navy; nine in one year. “Automobiles became sales figures won’t win at either event unless beautiful to me,” he recalls. accompanied by high customer service marks to Chambers stayed on for a while at Alco- match. For managers, overall management Standard, in charge of mergers and acquisitions. At A-Copy, he once purchased 16 in a year. He combined with low turnover is a must. He gained valuable experience in buying frequently says that he understands the business companies. He also learned how to delegate to from the consumer side. “He’s concerned with the total overall objective,” others, and to trust others while holding them says Quirk. “He has confidence in his ability and “He had no pre-conceived notions of what he accountable. in his people’s ability. He absolutely, positively could or couldn’t do,” says Quincy-based dealer loves the business.” After completing a number of acquisitions, he Dan Quirk. “He put A-Copy on the map. He started to shop around for a company of his focused on customers. He brought the same own….in a different industry. principals to the car business.” www.msada.org massachusetts auto dealer february 2008 13
  5. 5. COVER STORY: DEALER OF THE YEAR The ‘40-Group’ Review Turning ‘Accessories’ into Profit Centers Does Chambers take more pleasure in the rewards of his success, or the fact that he found a way to turn some of those “accessories” into profit centers? In addition to his legion of dealerships, he has amassed a collection of real estate and exotic cars. He is quick to acknowledge that he has been very fortunate in business. His properties include a country estate in Old Lyme, Connecticut and a spot at the new Mandarin on Boylston Street, slated for completion in 2008. Last year, he placed his Back Bay residence – a rare Beaux-Arts ‘There’s no question that he’s a big picture guy,’ says John Covell, who has worked for style home – on the market for $14.95 million, breaking Boston’s single Chambers since 1981 and followed him from the copier industry to the auto industry. home sales record by $4 million. Chambers spent two years renovating ‘He was so exciting and intense about what he was doing.’ the house before its sale, and says that it’s an “insane” property for someone without a family. Every month the company’s 40-plus GMs gather together for a In Old Lyme, Chambers keeps a stunning collection of cars – 15 to 20 detailed review of their stores. exotics and vintage autos. The collection, featured in The Boston Globe Chambers lavishes praise on those who bring good numbers as well and Chronicle television news program, includes a McLaren F1, a Mile as good ideas to the meeting. Miglia tested 1955 Mercedes-Benz Gullwing, a 1959 Cadillac Biarritz Convertible Eldorado, a 1932 Ford Coupe and 4 Ferrari Daytonas. Even The managers are expected to dig into minutiae at these meetings. car nut Jay Leno has asked Chambers for a spin. They present their financials one manager after the other: units new and used, gross profit and per vehicle, F & I, service, parts, expenses By Sea and Sky by category, aging receivables, asset management and customer And if tooling around the Connecticut countryside becomes tiresome, service. Chambers can head to the sky in his jet, take his helicopter for a spin, Chambers, who has pored over the numbers earlier, sits ready to or board the Excellence III, his 188-foot yacht. Chambers was pounce: “What happened here? How about here?” “intricately” involved in the design and building of the ship, traveling to “He zeroes in. He finds where the opportunities exist,” John Covell Europe to personally meet with shipbuilders Abeking & Rasmussen. says. “There’s no question that he’s a big picture guy. But he believes He has built and sold several yachts – and leases the Excellence for in looking at the numbers and dissecting the numbers.” much of the year (at $500,000+ per week). The plane also spends most of its time in the hands of others. Constant Improvement In the words of longtime associate John Covell, Chambers is “driven, The discussion is designed to provide the type of focus they miss when driven, driven.” Another associate, Jim Xaros, contends that the most dealing with day-to-day issues and questions. It also provides a forum difficult aspect of working for Chambers is keeping pace with him. No for implementing changes swiftly among the entire group. For matter where in the world his boss may be, Xaros quips, his phone will instance, while examining credit card expenses, someone discovered ring at the end of the work day, everyday, and Chambers will be asking, that taking a credit card number over the phone nearly doubles the “How’d we do today?” service fee compared to swiping a card. Pennies, perhaps, but multiply the fee by hundreds of thousands of service customers, and costs PHOTO: CAMPER & NICHOLSONS quickly mount. It is an example of the Japanese concept of kaizen, or constant improvement, that Covell tirelessly advocates. “If we didn’t have these meetings we wouldn’t be as successful as we are,” Covell says. Chambers prods everyone, constantly, to find new avenues to improvement. “I’m trying to convince each and every one of you how you can be better,” he tells his employees. “As a company, we can be Chambers, a Navy veteran, was ‘intricately’ involved in the design and construction of his so much better.” 188-foot yacht. Always on the lookout for opportunity, he leases it for much of the year, at nearly a half-million dollars per week. 14 february 2008 massachusetts auto dealer www.msada.org
  6. 6. COVER STORY: DEALER OF THE YEAR THE EVIL EMPIRE Asked about Chambers’ expansion plans – specifically ability to share existing advertising cuts costs Central Massachusetts – John Covell calls Worcester and and has allowed him to pay a premium for surrounding towns “a great market.” Metro Boston may subsequent dealerships of the same brand. boast great demographics and high density population, ‘It’s price. Still, he never allows the upside of a potential but it suffers from a severe lack of space. However, that purchase to cloud his critical thinking. “I think How bad do space is plentiful further from the Hub, and Chambers is long term. I think about things more. I I want it, missing a few brands from his 40-plus points – which run consider 'what's the worst thing that can the gamut from Vespa scooters to Bentley. There’s no and how bad happen? How bad will it be?’” Nissan. No VW. No Volvo. do they want And what if he were to throw aside his Chambers is always looking for new opportunities, and if the organization and return to just one or two to sell it?’ location is right, and the deal makes sense, he’ll buy. dealerships. Where would he focus? What’s the hardest aspect of putting together a deal? continued on page 18 “It’s price,” Chambers says. “How bad do I want it, and how bad do they want to sell it? I’m not a fire sale buyer. I’ve dealt with some very good negotiators. I wasn’t the best negotiator, but I’ve gotten better.” Patience and Persistence Pay Off Occasionally, Chambers will invest himself in a deal but walk away from it. “Even at the 11th hour, because someone tried to change the deal,” Covell says. Nor is Chambers afraid of a fight. He once pursued a lawsuit for nine years against Audi when the manufacturer cancelled his franchise “for personal reasons” that Chambers deemed unfair. A million dollars and a decade later, he vindicated himself. One recent acquisition required extraordinary patience and persistence. Foreign Motors West, which Chambers picked up last year, was a dealership group that Chambers had wanted forever. “Herb was told repeatedly they wouldn’t sell it,” Covell said. Finally, the winds shifted. After two attempts by other suitors, including Penske Automotive Group went nowhere, it was Chambers’ turn. From the beginning, workers at the employee-owned FMW store regarded Chambers, a competitor, as “the evil empire.” Covell and Chambers met with small groups of employees over several weeks, dispelling misconceptions and reassuring employees about their jobs. Chambers’ willingness to listen, combined with his self-effacing manner and geniality, eventually won them over, and he secured employee approval by a near-unanimous vote. Stay Visible in Showroom Controlling a large dealer group provides cost efficiencies. When he purchased his first Honda dealership on Commonwealth Ave 20 years ago, the “blue sky” was $4 million, “an unheard-of amount,” he recalls. However, his www.msada.org massachusetts auto dealer february 2008 15
  7. 7. DEALER OF THE YEAR The Jewel in the Crown At the espresso bar in Chambers’ Lexus store, customers can enjoy lattes, even a sandwich, all gratis. The lounge and espresso bar at Herb Chambers Lexus also provide a friendly atmosphere for customers and sales people to chat. Herb Chambers Lexus in Sharon, the crown jewel As soon as customers arrive at the service in the crown of the Herb Chambers empire, took entrance, German-engineered doors zip up and BY THE NUMBERS: nearly three years to build and sprawls across 11 then down in seconds. Either a personal service 3 years to complete acres. Its 110,000 square-foot showroom advisor familiar with their history, or valet, greets 11 acres of land in Sharon features vaulted cathedral ceilings and abundant them. Behind the scenes, the service area 110,000 square-foot showroom natural light. Customers are treated to accommodates 60 bays. complimentary espresso and sandwiches as they 40 cars fit into the showroom Chambers scoured the country with an architect wait for their car in the dealership’s luxe lounge, 50-foot cathedral windows and a photographer, traveling to Texas, Las complete with marble fireplace. Or perhaps $500,000 cost of showroom skylight Vegas, South Carolina and Georgia to pluck the they’d prefer to stroll the Zen garden. If that’s too 140 staff members, including sales and best elements from existing Lexus dealerships. slow paced, the dealership also offers a WiFi- service department He estimates he’ll enjoy bragging rights for two equipped business center for customers. 5 lunch rooms for staff years before someone outdoes him. $30 million: estimated cost The customer service desk is designed to resemble a hotel reception area. Every car that rolls through a Chambers service department is washed and vacuumed. Lexus customers are assigned a personal It took three years to build and features 50-foot cathedral windows, marble floors, a floor service advisor familiar with their history. to ceiling fireplace and can house 40 cars in its showroom. 16 february 2008 massachusetts auto dealer www.msada.org
  8. 8. DEALER OF THE YEAR A (Reluctant) Public Face Like many dealers before him, Chambers has become the public face for his dealerships. Despite his ads, Chambers is a reluctant spokesman; a commanding presence in small groups, but not someone known for leading the PR offensive. He feels nervous in front of the cameras, and he's critical of the results. His eye-catching – some would say, provocative – ad campaign is built around the theme that his sales people won’t try to “sell” you a car, they’ll help you to buy one. That line originated with Chambers as he addressed his [ Herb Chambers,“ We don’t sell cars. We help you buy them.” ] managers one day. Boston ad agency Modernista enlarged the concept, painting Chambers as an “undealer;” a theme adapted by several other local dealers over the past year or two. Here comes The idea is to play upon, and dispel, the public perception of dealerships in a car salesman: general, and sales people in particular. One ad in the series, entitled “Here Comes a.) panic b.) vomit c.) punch him a Car Salesman,” angered a few local dealers when it first ran. Everyone has a gut-level response to car salesmen. The moment we see one, we hold onto our wallets. We bolt for the door. It’s a survival instinct. But it’s one you won’t need at Covell acknowledged that he was “personally concerned” about those ads. “I Herb Chambers. Because we’re different. Our company is founded upon providing the highest possible level of customer service. Which means our showrooms are pressure-free zones, our don’t want our competitors to think that we’re disparaging them,” he said. “I prices aren’t artificially low, and our associates are only there to help. If you want help, that is. Hey, it’s all about you. All we want is to be the good guys in this business. And we’re committed respect our competitors….even if I want to beat them.” to doing whatever it takes to achieve that. So, next time you’re considering buying a car, stop by. And relax. We won’t bite. Pursuing Opportunity Online It takes more than a clever ad campaign to beat your competitor, of course. Visit us online at herbchambers.com Herb Chambers People still shop the aggressively-priced store, as well as location, selection and other key factors. But level the playing field, and who you buy from can become a factor in attracting customers. Just ask Frank Perdue. AUDI BMW BENTLEY BUICK CADILLAC CHEVROLET CHRYSLER DODGE FORD HONDA HUMMER HYUNDAI INFINITI JEEP LAND ROVER Despite the success of the ads, and the enduring draw that LEXUS MERCEDES-BENZ MINI PONTIAC PORSCHE ROLLS ROYCE SAAB SATURN SMART TOYOTA VESPA newspapers hold for auto customers, Chambers continues to [ Herb Cham bers, “ We don’t sell cars. We help you This ad (top), part of buy them.” ] expand his online presence. He was an early adopter of the This is an ad Chambers’ eye-catching a car dealer, from Internet, and with the help of in-house Internet guru Jay Gubala, written by – some would say, an ad agen provocative – campaign, Chambers continues to mine online data with the same penchant approved by cy, angered a few local a lawyer. for dissection that he brings to his stores’ financials. [ Now, if we still have your attention. dealers when it first .. ] People have Pushy, slick a horrible perc eption of car appeared. Chambers is a With its seemingly limitless ability to adapt and evolve, and blinded dealers. And by commission on the whole, that perceptio Well, at Herb providing the Chambers, we’r highest poss dollars, car sales e different. Our men can spoi company is l the enjoyme n is correct. nt of buying a car. reluctant spokesman. He ible level of founded upon combined with a profound capacity for measurement, the trust in the com munity, and Yes, we have customer serv ultimately, repe an ad agency. at business. ice. We belie ve it creates the philosoph great word of y of mouth, prefers speaking to small online world presents the perfect environment for Herb business. But is your happ we’re trying to change it Yes, we have for the bette lawyers. We’r r. We want to e not a char ity. We’re still in the car groups, and shuns iness. And we’r be the good So, next time e committed you’re consideri to doing wha tever it takes guys, whose to achieve that. ultimate aim performing before cameras, Chambers. He remains, despite enormous wealth and ng buying a car, stop by. We think you’ ll notice a big difference. often critical of the results. success, a man on a ceaseless search for opportunity – be it Visit us onlin e at herbchamb ers.com buried in numbers or just over the horizon. AUDI BMW BUICK CADILLA C CHEVRO LET CHRYSLE R DODGE Herb Chambe rs FORD HONDA HUMMER HYUNDA I INFINITI JEEP LEXUS MAYBAC H MERCED ES - BENZ MINI PONTIAC PORSCH E SAAB SATURN TOYOTA VESPA LOW KEY CHARITABLE WORK Can there be too much opportunity? because he wants assurance that the funds will find their way to those who truly need them. “We don't have a policy about giving,” he said. Herb Chambers would likely say no. But for nearly all dealers, including “We do it on a case by case basis.” He acknowledges an aversion to Chambers, one aspect of their business dictates “yes.” professional fundraisers. Every day, dealers are asked to donate money, new cars, and used cars His most recent visible charitable work has been on behalf of the 200 to groups and individuals in need. If only business were as steady and Foundation, which honored Chambers as its Man of the Year last year. reliable as requests for charitable contributions. The Metrowest charity donates all of the money it raises directly to food Chambers prefers to keep his considerable charitable works low key. pantries, counseling centers, respite homes and other organizations. He responds most often to pleas from people he knows already, www.msada.org massachusetts auto dealer february 2008 17
  9. 9. DEALER OF THE YEAR Keeping Up with Building Operations Jim Xaros practically grew up in the automobile business. He Why should joined the Chambers organization 16 years ago, and oversees I buy from other dealership operations. For Xaros, keeping his suppliers when I can arms around the accelerated growth and actually buy from construction presents one of his biggest challenges. Even with myself? two fulltime staffers dedicated to con- struction, the Lexus store gobbled up much of his life for three years. Chambers Vice President Jim Xaros oversees Not to mention major dealership operations. But keeping his arms projects ongoing or around the accelerated growth and construction takes up much of his time. about to commence: • a new Porche-Audi dealership in Burlington (a point purchased from Pass & Weisz) • a new BMW in Sudbury • a new Infiniti on Route 9 in Westboro • a new home for the Providence Cadillac dealership • a Mercedes-Benz expansion (doubling the size) in Lynnfield • a complete renovation for Mercedes-Benz in Natick • completion of 2 new Smart Car centers Asked for his view of the broader picture, Xaros said he expects the trend to continue for domestics, adding that the local landscape remains “over-dealered.” Long term, he predicted it will take more than a year or two for things to “right-size” themselves. Evil Empire...continued from page 15 “I'd try to stay very visible on the showroom floor, and meet as many customers as possible – both service and sales customers. Plus you set an example for everyone else.” Chambers’ Vice President Jim Xaros concurs, adding, “I’d pay a lot of attention to Service reception. You have an opportunity to reach 50 to 100 people there every day.” Chambers still walks downstairs to meet customers in the Mercedes- Benz showroom below his corporate offices. “It takes me 5 minutes,” he insists. “Nobody is that busy that they can’t take 5 minutes.” 18 february 2008 massachusetts auto dealer www.msada.org

×