FCA diversity pilot spurs dealership’s surge
“I sat in the customer lounge, I listened to all the customers, what their complaints were. Honestly, most of the customers were OK with the way things worked,” said Thomas, who is now the store’s operating partner. “So I said, ‘Man, if I come in, and I can do the things I want to do, and if they’re comfortable with this, what can I do if I bring my own philosophy into this, and make the improvements that I want? These will be customers for life versus people that tolerate because this is the closest place.’ ”
A turnaround occurred under a new ownership team comprising Thomas along with longtime dealer Eddie Hall Jr., his son Eddie III and their partner, Steve Whitener, of Hall Automotive Group. Northland is the Hall group’s fourth store, and the only African-American owned Chrysler dealership in the Detroit area. Thomas and the Halls are black; Whitener is white. Blacks make up 79 percent of the people in Michigan’s largest city, according to U.S. Census data.