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Fast lane: Fort Worth’s new Maserati dealership hopes to rev up sales in the luxury brand

🕐 3 min read

Scott Nishimura snishimura@bizpress.net

George Johnson has a lot of wheels turning these days.

As general manager of Park Place Motorcars’ Mercedes-Benz dealership on Bryant Irvin Road in Southwest Fort Worth, he’s seen sales rise steadily since its 2005 opening. Park Place doubled the size of its service shop on the site last year, in line with the increased sales volume.

Park Place broke ground just last month on a new Mercedes dealership in southwest Arlington managed by a colleague of Johnson’s. And in May, Park Place opened a new Maserati dealership managed by Johnson on Bryant Irvin Road across from the Mercedes dealership.

“The growth that we’re having in Tarrant County is coming south,” Johnson said. “We have grown pretty steadily at a rate of 15 percent per year.”

Park Place expects strong growth in Maserati, having introduced a new entry vehicle, the Ghibli, price at a base $66,900.

Maserati’s previous entry product was the Quattroporte, priced at a base of more than $120,000.

The company’s CEO has said he wants to take Maserati from 15,000 units sold last year to more than 50,000 in 2015.

Johnson sat down for a Q&A with the Business Press recently.

Q: How’s Park Place Mercedes done since it opened in Fort Worth?

A: We started out selling 500 new cars a year, and we’ll probably do 1,300-1,400 new cars this year. It’s been pretty steady.

Q: What’s driving Maserati’s increases in sales volume?

A: Additional dealerships and additional product and a commitment to the U.S. market. Like a lot of premium markets, they try to keep it more boutique. You can only sell a certain number of cars between $120,000 and $180,000. When you open up at $60,000 or $70,000, there’s a huge market. All of a sudden, you open the upper middle class range. A lot of people can afford a Maserati now that couldn’t afford a Maserati before.

Q: Who does Maserati compete against?

A: Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Mercedes-Benz CLS, BMW Series, Lexus LS.

Q: What are the demographics of the Maserati buyer?

A: It depends on which model you’re talking about. If you’re in the Granturismo or the Quattroporte, it’s super high-end. The average demographic is probably a male about 40 to 60. The Ghibli buyer is more of an upwardly mobile successful, 30s type of buyer.

Q: What does the typical Maserati dealership do in volume?

A: In new cars, it’ll be about 150 a year and another 350 luxury pre-owned cars. That’ll expand once the (new) Levante SUV comes out next year.

Q: Park Place doubled the size of its Mercedes-Benz shop last year, going to 40 technician stalls from 20. How many technicians do you have?

A: We have 35 techs now. We’ve got 40 stalls. We’d like to have 40 [technicians].

Q: How hard is it to find qualified technicians?

A: It’s pretty tight. You see that at the other stores, too. We’re bringing in a lot of younger trained people that we can grow and give the proper training. A lot of families have children coming out of school and have concerns about whether it’s going to be a successful career for them. We bring (the families out and introduce them) and they come out really pleased about what kids can do.

Q: What kind of background do your technicians typically have when you hire them? A: They have mechanical experience and usually formalized training. A lot of the ones we find are successful people who’ve always worked around cars and are very good at figuring out any issues we find.

Q: What’s the salary range?

A: From $40,000 a year as a trainee, to $100,000 a year.

Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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