However, I was very pleasantly surprised to encounter Jerry Ulm Dodge Chrysler Jeep of Tampa, Florida. This dealer is not only a survivor; they are the largest auto parts wholesaler I have ever interviewed.
This is a long term family operation, with roots deep in the community. Jerry Ulm is the son of the original owner, and knows parts and service as well as sales. Rob Brenneke, the fixed operations manager, has been there for fifteen years. Their dealership philosophy is total service to their customers, and the service department will work on any vehicles their customers own. This dealer has earned the Chrysler Dealer of the Year award twice; and probably will again.
This parts department services its customers to the tune of about a hundred thousand dollars in business every day! This is a major operation, requiring forty-five employees in two buildings, and two managers. Their level of volume requires eighteen drivers, six days a week. But that’s not all; they also use an outside delivery service to take parts to their customers—not just in Florida, but also in Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina.
I talked to Joe Galbraith, one of the two managers at Jerry Ulm. He told me that the secret to their success was in a word: service. This dealer provides a level of service to their customer that is amazing! They will provide parts not just for Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep, but for any vehicle, from any manufacturer. They want their customers to have one-stop shopping, and will pick up and deliver any required part, no matter what it is or where it is.
Countermen use email and ALLDATA systems to order parts. Their drivers will stop at other dealers on their way back after deliveries, and pick up orders to be dispatched on the next run. I have heard of dealers providing this type of service before, but never on this large of a scale.
Fiat’s ownership of Chrysler has helped this dealer, too. The new line of Magneti Marelli parts services all manufacturers and all vehicles. This enables Joe to use his overnight ordering service and provide almost any part on a next day basis.
But no matter how good the support might be, the strength of a dealership is the people on the front line, and the leadership of its managers. The dedication to provide service; and to retain customers is key to their success. This parts department staff has over 150 years of combined experience! The wholesale manager is Robert Springer, his countermen are Joe Lanzetti, Brian Garry, George Mowry, Jay Springer, Aaron Springer, and Eddie Chiovetti. The manager on the retail side is Joe Galbraith, and his countermen are John Piparo, Scott Brenneke, Adam Brenneke, Joe Scholtz, and Bill Usewick.
Joe talked to me about his countermen, their loyalty to their long term customers, and the value of their relationships. He describes them as multi-talented, and well-rounded. They always want to do better, and do more. They know how important it is to be honest and up front, in order to maintain the trust of their customers.
Obviously this dealer is not a secret in the Tampa area, anyone with this kind of volume would be well known. This kind of success in the parts aftermarket business, however, is not common. It is the result of long-term dedication and hard work; and takes years in the making. I would like to point out to those of you in the parts business the value of the wholesale market.
To those of you who have the desire, and the determination to be successful; and to grow your wholesale market, there is no limit to the success you can achieve. Jerry Ulm is an inspiration to all dealers. All you need is a desire to provide the best service available, and everything else will follow.
Jerry Ulm Dodge Chrysler Jeep is truly a Distinctive Dealer, and an example of what hard work and dedication to service can achieve.