It was recently reported by the U.S. Department of Labor that worker productivity was down for the second quarter in a row. This downward trend does not surprise George Grinzewitsch, Jr.
“People can only work harder, faster and longer for less or the same money for so long without being affected,” he says. “Granted, because of the craziness in Washington, economic times remain challenging. Due to this situation, many of our competitors have lowered employee salaries, commissions, benefits and decreased hours. We have done just the opposite.”
According to Grinzewitsch, this approach has paid off.
Over the past year, sales are up 6 percent at the three Mercedes-Benz dealerships in Rocklin, El Dorado Hills and Sacramento. In July, for the first time ever, the Rocklin dealership alone sold 100 vehicles.
“I’m really proud of our team because we are selling cars,” he says.
He attributes much of this success to the company’s commitment to developing world-class facilities that offer world-class customer service.
“At our level of automotive product, customers are not comparing us to other dealerships, they are rating us against five-star hotels and four-star restaurants. We need to create a special experience in order to make customers for life.”
And while no dime has been spared in the development of the Rocklin facility, the recent showroom upgrade in El Dorado Hills or overhaul of the Sacramento site now underway, Grinzewitsch insists expansion efforts cannot be successful without a complete buy in by employees.
“Our team members know what’s going on. They have been empowered with both knowledge and responsibility,” he says. “You know, I have not had to personally deal with a customer complaint in over five years. That’s not to say we’ve been perfect, but we trust our people to deal with situations as they arise. We may talk about it afterwards, but nine times out of ten they make the right decision.
“You have to treat your employees as well as you want them to treat your customers,” Grinzewitsch says. “Otherwise it’s hypocrisy.”
Occupation: Grinzewitsch, 49, is president of the Von Housen Automotive Group, which includes Mercedes-Benz of El Dorado Hills, Rocklin and Sacramento. Over the past five years he has spent much time restructuring the company, including selling Mercedes-Benz of Reno and repurchasing Mercedes-Benz of Sacramento. The Sacramento facility is currently undergoing a complete rehab. An extensive upgrade of the El Dorado Hills facility was completed earlier this year.
Family: A single dad, Grinzewitsch lives in Carmichael with his son George, 16, and daughter Cathryn, 15. When time permits, he and his children enjoy spending time in Tahoe and Hawaii.
Personal: “I grew up in Loomis. When I turned 12 I began working for my dad’s auto business. I worked every summer until I got my driver’s license, then I worked every day after school. I went from cleaning cars, ordering parts, writing warranty claims to being a dispatcher. When I turned 24, I became a service manager in Sacramento.”
Lunch: At the on-site restaurant in the Rocklin facility, Grinzewitsch enjoys a chop salad and a cup of tomato basil soup with a bottle of 2009 Rombauer Chardonnay.
Bill McAnally owns 70,000 square feet of shop space – split between his race shop and automotive care business – and 31 race cars built on site at Bill McAnally Racing NAPA AutoCare Center in Roseville.
Gary Morton has a dream and a car. If his dream comes true, like those of Henry Ford and Karl Benz before him, Morton will turn his prototype into a car company.
But Morton is not looking to build a big assembly plant or an extensive dealer network. His production will be limited to just one model that will offer baby boomers the nostalgia of the muscle cars they drove in their youth alongside their modern commitment to a pollution-free environment.