He sold Hondas, Peugeot, Mercedes, Audi and Ferrari too!
Jeff Sterns, I'm connected through cars with my good friend Alan Moore, and I'm really looking forward to this episode. I hope you enjoy it. Alan had an illustrious career from selling German imports and Ferrari before joining DuPont registry, and then running Boulevard customs customization for exotics for celebrities, including some world known pieces in SEMA. And finally at the Tampa Bay auto museum. He's got a fabulous history, United States, France. Take a look, I hope you enjoy.
3:47 Alan went to France as a kid and was mesmerized.
5:23 So like I drew a bunch of 911 turbos, so 911 turbos with that big whale tail. You know, the 930s like the 76.
6:35 I realized there was a lot of a lot of innovation that occurred. And you know, even in the early early 1900s, late 1800s, early 1900s in France, of course, Germany as well.
8:33 Citroen two CV, which is the French version of the Volkswagen, ....it was an air cooled two cylinder horizontally opposed front wheel drive car, with just tons of room. You can seat five or six people in it, and get 40 to 50 miles per gallon and they never broke. There's no coolant. There's, there's really it's such a simple car. So they made you know, 9-10 million of those cars.
9:23 Alan as a young man was general manager of a fast food restaurant. The owner and general manager of actually at the time, came in and recruited him to sell Honda.
12:15 Alan moves to Mercedes for the next eight years.
14:30 Alan's love of the car helped him sell the remaining Peugeots after the brand left the USA.
14:30 Alan also sold Ferrari.
it was a 2.0 or 3.0 Testarossa
i12:15 Ferrari 456 looked like a Ford Probe.
18:28 Dealer gives up the Ferrari dealership due to Ferrari's pressure to get into teh Challenge racing program.
19:46 Ferrari salespeople! Listen to this in case you ever have to go back to selling to get models out the door!
22:00 Jeff and Alan discuss the ethics and dynamics of "above MSRP" sellers and buyers.
28:10 Jeff proves that his 27 years in dealerships and eight years as a consultant to the business knows everything about cars... (nothing)
28:16 Alan left the retail carbon assignment to work for DuPont publishing and DuPont registry.
32:06 Carrera GT, which were the V 10, carbon fiber, mid engine, Porsche, they listed like $450,000, sticker price.
38:12 (Porsche Cararra GT customer: "How do I get out of this car, I'm gonna kill myself in this car."
.38:54 Jeff: I've called surgeons, and they said, Doctor, whoever's in surgery, and I've said oh, you know, I'm just the car guy with this turbo or he was looking for, oh, he said, If you call to interrupt them. I know you've been there. I mean, I can ask any guy and and, and I'm like, Well, I hope it wasn't a heart transplant. You know, he's doing yours and the guy would just come on for a minute.
43:16 Good job getting 100 grand deposit from the European on the super America. That's not a deal. And good job getting the $550k or whatever we got for the Daytona that's not a deal even though the car is shipped already. And we got the money already.
50:06 let me let me get dealers off the hook around the world that customers get frustrated about shipping. (Jeff tells some crazy transport stories)
55:41 Audience! with Alan you've got a guy in a museum for the same reasons that he got into the business you love.
56:22 Well, so the the finance manager needs to take your car deal. And find a lender, whether it's the manufacturer or a bank, that will agree to the interest rate and terms necessary to make your deal work at the numbers that you've agreed to with the customer.
1:00:48 you and I met through DuPont registry.
Right, who's gonna look at the web,
1:07:53 (origin of cars and coffee) Tom duPont came back from California. And he was out there at some event that he said, Hey, I was stopped into Starbucks on the way to the airport Saturday morning and they're having a car show out there in the parking lot of Starbucks, like Lamborghinis and Ferraris and muscle cars and all kinds of cool stuff. And apparently they do this every week.
1:08:36 Vinnie (Russo/from another episode), you know, we were doing events. And then he was running our most of our events at that point. And so we all sat down and came up with this idea for this cars and coffee and came up with a logo
This was oh five june of Oh, five. I think I think you were there. That one or one of the first?
1:09:25 Jeff: I was there early.
1:11:45 "Floridians and weather"
1:12:26 Jeff: I probably even brought my 31 Ford hot rod (to cars and coffee)
1:13:08 we had one car that that left the road and bent itself. a really nice restored 440 charger, that when he left and he jumped on it got a little sideways, he overcorrected, and nosed it into the ditch and bent it
1:18:38 I have a little Smithsonian Museum of my past cell phones.
1:26:43 a museum. And I walked in there and I'm thinking, this is just incredible. You know, these, this, this is right here in Pinellas Park. There's, I don't know that there's another museum like it anywhere that has the kind of innovation that they're that they're so enthusiastic about right here in front of us.
Yeah, the Honorable disco bar scene.
1:29:09 why would you want your dad to bring home a 38 Oakland for the kids to look at at night when you could bring, you know a waitress in cocaine?
1:30:41 the most interesting car we just got. You will appreciate is a 1913 wait for it. Sterns, knight,
1:34:07 Roy Jones, a fighter Phantom when that car came out. And he couldn't take delivery of it until we put the televisions in it we used to send a lot of stuff to Boulevard. Shaq with the Superman. .
1:35:33 SEMA tuner challenge
1:38:40 one of the great projects was a company called Davidoff of Geneva. And they wanted to have a mobile cigar lounge
1:41:40 26 inch wheel... $40,000 in stereo
1:46:01 Johnnie Cochran
1:48:27 Billy Mays
So you get a million bucks. For would you get Stinger Porsche?
1:56:15 the Porsche Carrera GT, F 40, an Enzo McLaren f1
1:59:07 Alan, you're a legend. am really honored. I appreciate it. I think it was a great conversation.
1:59:40 I appreciate you saying that I'm I'm not a legend. The nice of you to say that it. I am a car guy like so many others.
Alan Morin - Main - v3
Sun, 2/14 2:27PM • 1:59:54
car, selling, ferrari, dealership, dupont, dealer, drive, big, customer, day, walk, customs, great, bought, business, cadillac, put, sticker, point, museum
Jeff Sterns 00:00
Jeff Sterns, I'm connected through cars with my good friend Alan Moore, and I'm really looking forward to this episode. I hope you enjoy it. Alan had an illustrious career from selling German imports and Ferrari before joining DuPont registry, and then running Boulevard customs customization for exotics for celebrities, including some world known pieces in SEMA. And finally at the Tampa Bay auto museum. He's got a fabulous history, United States, France. Take a look, I hope you enjoy. I realize that I'm starting to pass more and more cars unintentionally, and I've called surgeons and they said, Doctor, whoever's in surgery, and I've said, Oh, you know, I'm just the car guy with this turbo or he was looking for. Oh, he said, If you call to interrupt them
Dodge Charger. That was a really nice restored 440 charger. That one he left and he jumped on it got a little sideways, he overcorrected and knows that into the ditch, bent it. Fortunately, there was no people standing right there.
Jeff Sterns 01:06
There's people close enough. Why would you want your dad to bring home a 38 Oakland for the kids to look at night when you could bring you know a waitress in cocaine
is a 1913 wait for it. Sterns Knight
Jeff Sterns 01:20
tm and I'm assuming that I get some kind of discount when I walk in the door.
Oh absolutely senior discount Roy Jones a fighter a phantom Shaq with the Superman beam a tuner challenge. And this was a competition to submit your concept for what to be one of four builders to have a Sema
Jeff Sterns 01:45
vehicle that Mercedes Benz was going to fund the whole thing to have it off of Geneva and they wanted to have a mobile cigar lounge, humidor. espresso machine and a bar. He has a new or knowledge pull up to the valet stand and Johnnie Cochran standing there. In a Bentley turbo car pulls up for Johnny and the guy who's my customer says your Johnnie Cochran. You're driving an old body style. He calls me and it's like 11 o'clock on a Sunday night and my phone rings and my wife says it's Kevin so of course when it's your customer you you answer Dude, I'm asleep what he is I'm standing here with Johnnie Cochran and the cars and coffee the dealerships Boulevard customs Stearns. Billy I was selling used Cadillacs to when he was doing home shows selling the pots and pans and knives and salsa spinner before he got big and TV. I did Derek Bell a few days ago in a conversation and his daily driver in Chichester, you know farm. He's got a 550 and 924 GTS and you know, interesting cars. And I said, What do you drive in Florida? He goes, Well, there's you can't really drive here. So nothing. I'm like, you don't have a car in your garage. Well, you'll see I have cars here. But his daily driver. I'll give you five bucks if you can get Jeff Sterns connected through cars. If they're big wigs, we'll have him on the show. And yes, we'll talk about cars and everything else. Here he is. Now, Jeff Sterns, what made you get in the car business.
I was a car crazed kid. That's the first passion I ever had drew cars and made, you know, built model cars and painted model cars and did all that stuff as a kid. And just, you know, walking around, it was a thing to name the cars that were you know, wherever we went. And my mother was French, so we'd go to the summer and visit family over there. And so you get to see cars over there that we're like, from a different planet. You know, you're used to seeing all these we're used to seeing all these big cars here in the 60s, you know, pavic, full size, Pontiac sedans, and even the even the what we consider the sports cars like gtos, we'd go over there. And everything was small, and everything looked like it was from a different world.
Jeff Sterns 04:13
And you say France, right? Correct. Yeah. So we're talking about Citron with the headlight in the middle.
Yeah. So it's one of the coolest thing ever. Yeah. Central and peugeots and rhinos are now Yeah. And I also looked at the car business, I came up through the restaurant business I was in, you know, like, so many, so many of us, you know, in high school, trying to make make a living going and waiting tables or doing whatever getting through college, you know, waiting tables or working in restaurants. I kind of looked at the car business as the guy looking through the window and saying, you know, that's really cool, man. Those guys have a job of a lifetime, but I could never sell for a living.
Jeff Sterns 04:53
And it's when you are drawing cars, where you're drawing like legitimate engineering. renderings or were you drawing the rat rod guy with the shifter out the window with his tongue hanging out? Like I was drawing with a 12 cylinder or 16 cylinder engine,
though I was into all that stuff like, you know, all the Matchbox cars like the silhouettes and all those concept cars that there were that there was Matchbox cars, kids, those are the ones I wanted. But the ones that I drew were the ones that I wanted to own someday. So like I drew a bunch of 911 turbos, so 911 turbos with that big whale tail. You know, the 930s like the 76 and a half super,
Jeff Sterns 05:31
super fat back end and noelia
Yeah, I think from every angle I drew that car for that car blew me away. That in the qun Tosh, I think the Khun Tosh was probably the first car I drew. And that was before it was I think it was before it was the cone Tosh. And it was the, I think was the LP 5000.
Jeff Sterns 05:51
Yeah, that's what it was. And do you have any of these drawings anywhere?
You know, my mom's a hoarder. So I'm gonna bet that someplace she has some of this. She's, she might? I don't know. I'll ask her. We're gonna see her tomorrow. I'll have to ask her that. But
Jeff Sterns 06:07
the listening audience. We will put, put some pictures up of Alan's original drawings, if we can find them.
Yeah. Okay. If I, you know, hindsight, is maybe a little bit skewed. But I thought as a kid, they were perfect. They looked exactly like the cars, I'm sure looking at those kids drawing those cars drawn today, by a 12, or 13 year old kid, those were, those probably are not exactly to scale,
Jeff Sterns 06:35
I have a buddy that I'm going to try to get on the cast that I went to high school with, that always drew cars, in every class on every folder on every margin of every paper in our class, but like flawless, like you've never seen, you know, like these designer shows. And he actually speaking of France went to lived in France over 20 years as a designer, as an automotive designer, you know,
a lot of original design, you know, and that was one of the things I didn't realize, as a kid, even even the traveling there as a kid and seeing these cars. It never, I never made the connection, how much innovation in automobiles came out of France. So as time went on, as I got to be more into the profession, and a little bit less of a just a guy looking through the window, I realized there was a lot of a lot of innovation that occurred. And you know, even in the early early 1900s, late 1800s, early 1900s in France, of course, Germany as well.
Jeff Sterns 07:38
More or less reliable than English,
definitely more reliable, you know, a lot of the things that they did were other than some of the hydraulic stuff, you know, like, you know, the SX and the DS models, had some crazy hydraulics, hydro pneumatic stuff for their suspensions, high pressure hydraulics, kind of like what's in, in Rolls Royce, you know, that you see the Rolls Royce that are sitting on the ground, and it's a $30,000 repair bill suspension spheres.
Yes, exactly. Then the central NSF, you will see
Jeff Sterns 08:08
brake spheres. Yes. What was this? I can't remember what the suspension was. But when I would recondition the rolls and Bentley, internally, it was always 4500 for one of the big three the steering rack brake accumulators or Spears in suspension something I forget now.
Yes, yeah. Yeah. All the O rings all that stuff. You know, so well, other than that, but like if you look at a two CV has Citroen two CV, which is the French version of the Volkswagen, right? They're, they're, they're, you know, they, they cringe when people say that, but it was an air cooled two cylinder horizontally opposed front wheel drive car, with just tons of room. You can see five or six people in it, and get 40 to 50 miles per gallon and they never broke. They just didn't break. There's nothing to break. There's no coolant. There's no, you know, there's no there's no antifreeze coolant. There's, there's really it's such a simple car. So they made you know, 910 million of those cars. And there's, they're still running around in France, you know, 3040 years later, you see these cars that are from the 60s and 70s. Still. Okay.
Jeff Sterns 09:14
So that's interesting background. So you got into selling cars, because you wanted to be around cars because you love cars. Well, I was
actually the general manager of a fast food restaurant. And the owner and general manager of actually at the time, it was not the owner. It was just the general managers later to be the owner of the dealership. Oh my gosh, you guys have dream jobs as the best job. You know, they're like, well, so we they came in a couple more times. And by the third visit, they said, you know, you seem more enthusiastic about cars, anybody we got working for us. If you ever think about leaving this business, you should come by and say hello. And that's I walked into the dealership actually to I had a CRS a Honda cx si at the time. Yep. I wanted the service to Get something get apart. And I thought I'm just gonna walk through the lobby. And there was RG who was the GM at the time sitting there and he's Hey, I know you. We struck up a conversation when he's gay about Yep. And within three weeks I was working there selling Honda's
Jeff Sterns 10:18
beautiful. You were recruited. I kind of had to fight my father. My dad was a dealer in a suburb of Detroit. It was it was very sexy for me. He had 38, Oakland's and model A's and corvairs and muscle cars and he'd loan vehicles to the city Detroit for Fourth of July parade and my little brother and I can write in the rumble seat of a model a and a parade. So in honking the UGA horns until the batteries were dead when I go into work on a Saturday with my dad, so I just thought it was all about the cars, and nothing else. So he didn't want us in the business. So he sold a lot and moved to Florida to ensure that my brother and I would not go into the business. I was about 12 so much. So I really, really let him down.
Well, that's that's kind of the way I saw the car business when I you know, I met these two guys. They're like regular guys, and they're and they're doing very well in this business. And I always thought of it as kind of a, you know, the whole this whole stereotype fat tie allowed pants and shirt and the whole, you know, in your face, and they weren't like that, you know, they were they were professionals. I thought about there in the Honda's selling a group what I thought at the time was one of the greatest cars I owned. I had nothing but Honda, Honda motorcycle, two Honda cars and a Honda lawnmower. I'd be a phenomenal product. product. Yeah.
Jeff Sterns 11:41
So you entered because you are a car nut drawing cars background and France etc. And you end up in a Honda store because you're recruited by the management while you're running up a Wendy's right? Now did you go directly from there to crown dealerships in St. Petersburg, Florida?
I did. And the GM from crown Mercedes called me and said they were looking for somebody. And they wanted me to. If I was thinking about leaving, if I ever thought about leaving Honda, you know, they'd love to talk. And same thing about three, four weeks later, I was working at Crown Mercedes for the next eight years. New Car sale. Mercedes. We actually had Peugeot at the time. When I got there, they still had four peugeots from the Peugeot franchise. So those things they said their sale proof. And the franchise is pulled out of the country. You know, the manufacturers put on a country those cars are sales sale proof. I sold those four cars in the first month. I think that first or second month. Those cars sold and it was at that we got outtie which was about the same situation. 1982 they were about ready to they were they were on the brink. It sold on Traxxas after the Audi 5000 sudden acceleration hoax. Yeah.
Jeff Sterns 12:55
Yeah, that whole thing until 60 minutes or 2020 admitted that
it was staged. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and, you know, we, we went through a whole thing about that without you know, they they showed us what happened that there was some lawsuits and then they, they did a dramatization and they put on the screen, they said 60 minutes on screen. This is a dramatization, but people that see the dramatization part, they just saw the car running over people. So
Jeff Sterns 13:22
it would know since it was sad, it was sensationalism at the almost expensive outtie leaving USA, they had to rename the models, you know, Audi 100, Audi 200, over that. And then an Audi engineer actually came up with the solution to their sudden acceleration problem. Do you remember what that was? No. He said, Look, we're gonna paint the gas pedal green and the brake red.
Like, shut up. I think that might have helped to help.
Jeff Sterns 13:51
So you're in Mercedes, Audi, Jaguar and Ferrari bujo. In the form that you sold? Was that all there was? Or was it was it. So let's talk to people right now that are not in the car business. So this is very interesting about sales. I don't care if you're selling vacuum cleaners, I don't care if you're selling televisions, cars, you think that you go in and buy what you want. And I'm not saying that you don't walk in and buy what you want. But it's very interesting, the influence a salesperson could have in it. And it wasn't a matter of being devious. It was actually, I'm going to make an assumption. Are you telling me if I'm wrong, you love the Peugeot. So when you talked about pujo, you loved it, and the person in front of you, you know, picked up your enthusiasm
for early on in the car business. I had, of course, no idea what I was doing. And one of the things that the dealer tries to do is to they try to get you to say what they want you to say to the customer, and learn
Jeff Sterns 14:52
also quo say this to your customer, right? Go
say this to your customer, and I just didn't feel natural, and I didn't find out It was effective. So I learned that it really is about what we want. It comes down to what does the customer want? So asking the right questions and knowing our product. And then, of course, the questions a lot of times are kind of guiding you in a way that I hope that you'll go. But I'm going to ask questions that reveal what your interest is, where does your interest lie? And a lot of people would come in and they, they didn't know, they, you know, well, here's what I want to do. And here's what I want my car to do. Well, let's go drive this and see what you think. People get into puja. I think the closing rate on those peugeots was ridiculous, though. I don't think I did too many test drives in them. But people get in that car and they go, wow, this is really cool. This is comfortable and drives Great.
Jeff Sterns 15:45
Well wouldn't even have been on their consideration list if it wasn't for you, though. So another hint to anyone going into sales. God forbid, let the customer see the product you might want.
Yes. Yeah, the worst thing the worst they can say is no. Let's try something else.
Jeff Sterns 16:03
So you had some other stuff. Maybe a tad more exotic. on that property.
Yeah, they had Ferrari, too. At that point. They were the Ferrari dealership, crown Ferrari. That was over on the Jaguar showroom. And they went to St. Petersburg, Florida. Correct. St. Petersburg, Florida. And you know, if you wanted a Ferrari, you had to go to Orlando or Miami? I don't even know if Ferrari Central Florida was there at that point. 1992. It was probably just you in Miami. Yeah, I think that's right.
Jeff Sterns 16:35
What were the models in that era?
We had the Testarossa a 512. Tr had just come out the
Jeff Sterns 16:43
Testarossa body, correct.
Yeah, big brakes, a little bit handling. Oh, great car, much, you know, some of the issues that the Testarossa had resolved with, you know, big brakes, bigger wheels and tires, you know, more power,
Jeff Sterns 16:56
it was a 2.0 or 3.0 Testarossa
Jeff Sterns 17:00
yeah. Well, in the 512 tr, of course, tr being Testarossa.
Yeah. And they had, we also have the 456, which was the gentleman's Ferrari is an automatic four seater. Really cool. Look at the Ford
Jeff Sterns 17:13
probe. Not Yes,
it looked like a Ford. Did it look like a Ford probe except for when you step on that right pedal? Right. And that, that that and I think it was, it was 348 to 340. It's a 355. At that point, 348.
Jeff Sterns 17:28
Being a little bit of a small wedge shape with the almost Testarossa vents in the side, correct. Like where the door went into the rear fender. Yep.
For cam for out, and then the 355 to the first five vowels,
Jeff Sterns 17:44
the five valve him in a little larger car. Little faster. Yep. And by the way, they all you know, they all sounded great. It didn't know. Did you ever have a hot catalytic converter Testarossa rear fender fire?
Never didn't know, that was a thing. Um,
Jeff Sterns 18:02
I had a couple of owners. Tell me about those. So you had or 56 355 348 Testarossa
I'm trying to think is the 355 came in about the time that we were getting out of that franchise. At some point, they Ferrari came to the dealership and wanted them to commit to the challenge program. And I think that was the 348 Challenge series. Now this is racing. Right? Correct. That's racing. And they wanted, they wanted a dealership to support it. Somehow, you know, the customer racing program. It was a big investment, based on the number of cars they were selling, and the money they were making on the cars. The dealership just really wasn't interested in supporting that program. I think that became a condition of your franchise.
Jeff Sterns 18:54
Well, Ferrari then for sure. I mean, I know they're committed to racing now, but then for sure, they would probably look at you funny, for wanting to put profitability in front of racing.
Yes. From from day one, I think that company's DNA has been has come out of that Motorsports. So the only reason to make money is to go race.
Jeff Sterns 19:17
I think that really ends up like Oh, we got to sell a few cars. We got to pay for our racing program.
Yes, we have to deal with these retail customers. So we can go racing.
Jeff Sterns 19:26
Now at that time. Was this Ferrari waiting list dynamic? Or did you have new cars in stock that you know how to sell you had
to know how to sell they were they were? They were having to be very aggressive to get these cars sold. It was not. It was 9293.
Jeff Sterns 19:46
So t Ferrari sales people listening now, where your sales style is whoever gives you the best gift to move up the line? Well, there was a time where he actually had to present and testify And give somebody a good reason and follow up and stay in touch. Now, I don't want to take everything away from the Ferrari salesperson, because I know there's models that aren't on the waiting list. And I know there's Pre Owned cars that you still have to sell. But you know, going back to when I got heavy into selling Ferrari, I think 360 was the new car then. And it was really just about Well, I mean, I was selling Pre Owned 80 mile, titled A week ago, or a month ago, cars, or about 80,000 if I recall over window, and we can talk about that for a minute, because I want to defend myself and defend dealers selling things over window, I was paying 70,000 over window wholesale for the car. So when a customer would say What is it with you dealers? What is it with you dealers at what a ripoff, you know, 80,000 over window, I would just say listen, by soldier the car right now for sticker. Now, by the way, if you go to a Ferrari dealer, you gotta wait two years. So a year and a half. So what you're all you're really paying is to not wait and who you're paying most of it to is the first guy that was smart enough to get on the list five years ago, Brent, you know, in the model announcement came out, or had a good enough relationship with the dealer factory or multiple cars or whatever reason that he got to go on early and get one at sticker, all he all you're doing is paying him or her to not wait. Or you can wait. And they might might make 80 grand a lot of money well, on a 250,000 to $300,000 car buyer who most likely in general has five exotics, and most likely has them across and you tell me if I'm wrong, two or three houses, and probably has a boat, and I mean, statistically and probably has an airplane, you know, etc. Well, private jet, they might be spending $80,000 a month in airplane gas. Sure. And they might be playing blackjack for 50,000 a hand?
Sure they want to go to Atlanta is 20 grand.
Jeff Sterns 22:01
Right? So I'm not saying that. They're all wasteful that all people have means just throw money around left and right. But if there is a little bit of an ego, or I want to like for example, the new Corvette right now, wholesale bringing about 35,000 over window sticker that you know certain dealers will pay that to get one, this is just a matter of in that cell, you know, just under $100,000 price range. I mean, it's like stock market, I mean market lands where the market lands. That's why auctions work. I mean, you know, market lands where the market land, but backing up to the ethics of selling over sticker if right now you were able to buy a PlayStation five, or whatever the hot toy is, and there's none in the stores. And you could put it on Facebook marketplace for $100 more than you're paid. because somebody's simply paying to not wait or not miss. It's just a different level. And it doesn't make you a bad person buying and sell. But I would ask this customer if I sold you this car right now it's sticker and you're sick of it in two months, or you get back pain from it or can't get in and out of you know, whatever reason people get out of cars quick. Will you sell it back? To me? It's sticker, even though they're bringing 80,000 over sticker all day long, easily? Well, of course not I'd asked at
and as a consumer, what's your overhead compared to the dealer? You know, so that consumer that went to the Ferrari dealership, waited in line, got the car for sticker paid 270 and then drives it for a few months sells it for 350? Tell me about your $10 million franchise that you have to pay for. Oh, that's right. You did that out of your house?
Jeff Sterns 23:37
For your half a mil? I'm sorry, yeah, half a mil a month in overhead.
Right? You know, so it's still present, it does present this interesting thing that people scratch their head about and all the consumers scratch your head an awful lot about and having been in the business. You and I both I'm sure had this dilemma where you look at it and you think, okay, so the manufacturer, are they creating this environment by controlling the supply? You know, there was there was a point at the Mercedes dealership where one of the first cars that we had the scenario with was when the CL case came out to CLK 320 cabriolets Mercedes had this car called the 300 ce cabriolet that 1993
Jeff Sterns 24:23
still a very popular car, the square boxy. Yep, the one convertible for passenger
or passenger convertible, you know, and it was a very custom kind of build very expensive car to build those cars had a sticker price of 80 to $82,000. You know, that was the list price in 1993 1994 1995. Well, they come out with a CLK cabriolet that's priced at $62,000 $20,000 less the CLK 320s had the V six that the three valve two single red cam v sixes and a cabriolet with the with The four round headlights, the two big and the two small round headlights, kind of a ovoid looking car. Still, the value for the consumer was okay, this car has the same power as the, as the 124 chassis bought the same room, it's not doesn't feel quite the same, it doesn't have that bank vault feel like the 124 is the 300, the 300 D and 300 C's, but that car had a waiting list of six to 12 months. And the way the dealership did it was merchant were selling these cars for 20 over 30 over sticker, we were one of the dealers that dared to do that. A lot of dealerships said you know, Mercedes Benz really does not get excited about new cars being sold with an agenda model. And again, to being next to the window sticker, some additional, it's called market adjustment or dealer, additional dealer profit or pinstripes five grand, you know, something like that. Exactly. There was turmoil in that dealership over a few of these models that ended up in this scenario where people had to come in and play and they played this game, and they had this handwritten list. And the way to get on the list is to give us you know, a $10,000 non refundable deposit, and you get on the list. Well, how do I know somebody's not getting ahead of me on the list? Because now I've waited six months, my $10,000 is there, and I get it all, it's gonna be another three to four months. So now people want to see the list and all kinds of other foolish, where am I really right? am I really? And did somebody come in there was 20, grand and extra end to pay an extra $10,000 over the 20? And the line jump? Did they'd lined up with more money. And did that happen? I don't know. I've worked there. And I and I'm and I'm not sure. You know, when you have human beings involved in the process that are overseeing the list and they're the only ones that see it. And they're the ones collecting the deposits. I don't know. Who knows what's, who knows you hope that's not going on. So it created a lot of mistrust and hard feelings in the dealership between not just the customers but also with amongst the employees. So it created it does create these things. And that thing evaporated overnight on those cars. And those cars became ordinary cars once Mercedes Benz caught up on production. Mercedes had a few of those. I remember we were buying CLS came out. Yeah.
Jeff Sterns 27:22
Oh yeah. We were buying those at sticker from some Mercedes stores just to have a couple over at the Cadillac landeros and Bentley store. Of course you experienced it with CLS for show the round headlight 99 convertible 320 the four passenger convertible,
you have to see it. Well. That was the CLK 320 cabriolet, okay, that was that one? Round headlights for passenger, and 20 30,000 over sticker.
Jeff Sterns 27:52
Forgive me. I was thinking of SL K, initially.
Okay, well SL KS, and how about SL Ks? You know, it was CL Ks with SL KS, which was a two seater. supercharged, you might have been thinking that compressor?
Jeff Sterns 28:05
Yeah, that's where my brain was. Okay. So to the listener, where you think Jeff Sterns 27 years in dealerships eight years as a consultant to the business knows everything about cars, nothing. That's why I have these interesting guests. But you know, without going into the heavy stuff, I mean, the first stuff I heard doing over window was Miata, like 10 grand, I think,
yep. And a Chevy HHR. How about the rubber? The
Jeff Sterns 28:31
NSX? Remember? Yeah, but I don't remember it over window.
Those did a big those did a big one, when those first came out that I think was 1990. And they got into a war with consumers and lawyers and everybody else. And I think it was Scott Acura that at the time and St. Petersburg. And they were 30,000 over sticker. These cars were 65 or $66,000. For a brand new NSX. They were $30,000 $40,000 less than a comparable Ferrari. I think it was a 328 at the time, and people lost their minds and started paying 30 plus $1,000 over sticker for
Jeff Sterns 29:09
And think about that car today, the relevance of that car, what's up? What's a 90 or 91 NSX today? worse?
Jeff Sterns 29:29
I don't know, do you? I don't are they use cars? Or are they valuable collectors? I don't know.
I have a few a few of them that came to cars and coffee. That you know they'd have a for sale sign on them for 110 $120,000. Now, I don't know if that was the market or if that was just somebody real optimistic. But those cars that came in looking like that look brand new. And that was those cars were getting to be 25 years old. Some of those cars were in there for that kind of wire
Jeff Sterns 29:58
still cool. They're still Cool. I have an inner neighborhood with one that when it comes out of the garage, it's it's yellow. It's it's still cool. No doubt about it.
Special Event when you see that roll through your neighborhood.
Jeff Sterns 30:09
Yes. So any and I'm getting a flat footed I did not set this up because this is the setup call. Here we are crazy stories, crazy customers. Mercedes, Honda, Audi, Ferrari. Yes, yes. Suits threats. Yeah.
newspaper ads? Oh, yes. All of it. And remembering all of the above. I think one of the most interesting was actually when I worked this, I'm jumping ahead a little bit after I left the retail carbon assignment to work for DuPont publishing and DuPont registry. And we had bought ads in the in that magazine to sell used cars that needed to get seen outside of the local market. So DuPont registry gave us a way to put those cars out in front of an audience outside of the Tampa Bay market. worldwide audience.
Jeff Sterns 31:03
So this is when your crown. Yep, Mercedes, Audi, Ferrari, etc. Yeah, who's Yo, retina started advertising and DuPont registry? Right. So
there was we did we did individual classifieds, in some cases, full page display ads, but the individual classifieds would get people to walk in the door, like we get, you know, PGA golfers or baseball players would walk in, and they'd say, I'm looking for Alan, you know, and salespeople are like, I'll take care of you. And I don't even know who this guy is. You don't know who that is. No, I don't. Well, that's such and such. Like, okay, well, that's a Hall of Fame baseball player, okay. You know, and ended up walking them around, and you got like an entourage following you through the dealership Hall. And I'm not a sports person. So I don't know who this guy is. But I'm selling him a car. And you know, so there's a few like that. And so ultimately ended up going to work at DuPont for the last 20 years, essentially. And early on, we had some Carrera GTS, which were the V 10, carbon fiber, mid engine, Porsche, they listed like $450,000, sticker price. And we had a few of those listed for sale. And in the magazine, I was just not just selling ads, but we were also selling cars buying and selling cars in the magazine.
Jeff Sterns 32:27
You know, I'm a big fan of the magazine. I mean, you and I believe met because of DuPont registry. I believe that's right. But the struggle I had was between sending this stuff in which at the time was a developed photo of a car, yeah, in an envelope or driven down to the DuPont building in St. Pete and getting the ad copy. And it was often around six weeks.
Jeff Sterns 32:53
I'd run you know, initially, I would do a couple classifieds like you mentioned, but I would often do full page and I think I was doing 12 or 16 cars, you know, four rows of four, three rows of four. And I didn't have half the cars are by the time the book came out.
Yeah, that's definitely definitely a challenge. You know. And so a lot of times these ads, I think, you know, because like you have ad sales people, you have car salespeople, they'll sell you an ad, but the ad that you buy, knowing the publication, and having been on both sides of it, having worked at the dealership, and then having worked there, I figured out what worked, and what was a bad idea. And I just tell my clients, my advertising clients, frankly, that's a bad idea to advertise that way. here's, here's what you can do that will sell cars, I am currently advertising cars for sale in the magazine and I am selling them all over the world. You know, don't don't advertise a car in there, there's not going to be there in 30 days, unless you have another one to back it up or you have a flow of these cars or supply of these cars coming in, then it won't matter if you sell that one and have next car that comes up is going to be just as good or better. You know the fact that anything the situation is going to improve for the client cuz it's going to cost less than one in 30 days from now. But specialty cars like the Carrera GT or SLR mclarens, or, you know, custom street rods, things that, look, I know this is not going to I don't want this to sell them 30 days, if it sells in 30 days, that means I priced it too low. Right. You know, I wanted to sell in three to six months. I want to run a campaign on this car. And sometime over the next three to six months. We're going to build value on this car. And so we had a in 2006 we had 1.3 Carrera GTS advertised in the magazine that were for sale. And I got a call from the caller ID was Manhattan. And it was a bank, one of the big bank a CEO of one of the big banks, his assistant calling I didn't know who it was. She said this is Sharon from Mr. Sykes insights office. And he sees this Carrera GT that you have for sale. Is it still available? Yes. Okay. Please hold for for for me like speak with you for a moment.
Jeff Sterns 35:14
Where gt the mid engine Porsche, the minute and Porsche right the V 10.
They're looking at
Jeff Sterns 35:19
Yes. Super cool to see make intake. Yeah, I mean, it was a race car. Yep. It's a race, a thinly disguised race car. A gt one, you know, you know, FIA GT race car, and, you know, 611 horsepower. 2900 pound car. Yep. So he gets on the phone. He said, Okay, great. You know, tell me about the car. Most important to me, is that it is as if the car were brand new and not having driven. No Nicks. no scratches, no anything. I if the car gets to me, and it is imperfect in any way, you will get it back. So I said, Well, this is not the car for you then because this one I know for a fact has was driven by somebody who was not so careful. And it did leave the road a couple of times. So underneath it scuffed, it's not mechanically damaged. Just the understand is scuffed here. You're absolutely right and not selling me that car. So let me know if you have one of these color combinations. About a week later, the third car that we had came in to the building, and like, wow, this car still has the plastic in on the floor and stuff got 600 miles on this car. And if I look underneath it, there isn't it doesn't like this car was ever driven. And so I shoot all the pictures, I get under with a light and I shoot pictures, and I send the pictures, a contract and wiring instructions to the assistant. Right here you go. And here's the car, no calls, no anything. Our controller calls and says, Alan, we've got $350,000 sitting in our wire transfer guys. This is four hours later, you know, would you sell the whole inventory? No, I think that's I think that's the Carrera GT. I got a reply back. When can you have the car shipped to Greenwich? How soon? Can it be there? No, no. Hey, did you get the money or anything like that? Just how soon can the car be in Greenwich? Well, it's the
Jeff Sterns 37:13
dam. It was like Amazon in those days.
Jeff Sterns 37:16
We shipped everything I understand. It's fast ship.
Yeah, yeah, exactly. And so I realized is that well, we need a title for the car. And the title was actually in Colorado. And this was three days before Christmas. 2006. So the boss, since it says, Hey, we're flying need to, you need to fly there. We can't take a chance on this. You need to take the title. And the customer, get the signature notarized and fly back same day. So I flew into Denver got snowed in they had 24 inches of snow. And I had to drive out of Albuquerque drive down from Denver to Albuquerque to fly back and make it home for Christmas with the title, you know, met the customer, but had to stay in the hotel for two days until the roads opened back up in Denver. And that customer called me three weeks later and said, How do I get out of this car?
Jeff Sterns 38:08
By the way audience not unbelievably uncommon.
How do I get out of this car, I'm gonna kill myself in this car. And we had the conversation about the car said, you know what this car is? Right. And I talked about the clutch thing and all that and, and the performance level. And thank thank Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot. I learned everything okay. Yeah. I appreciate that. I'm fine. I'll be good. Drove at one time. Is it okay? Yeah, I'm dead. This is this is not this is a car for professional
Jeff Sterns 38:36
drive. But you know what i found Alan, sometimes with these customers. I mean, in this case, it was disappointing for him that he couldn't love it. And he was afraid of it. But I found that this customer was really often just an acquisition junkie. Right? You agree?
Yes, totally. That's exactly what that was.
Jeff Sterns 38:54
They would find something to get hot on and pursue the same as my son looks at let go for aluminum boats or whatever. I haven't had a Ferrari yet. I haven't had a Lambo yet. I haven't had a jag yet. You know, whatever, whatever I not had yet. And they get all into like consumed by the deal. And I know this has happened to you. I've called surgeons, and they said, Doctor, whoever's in surgery, and I've said oh, you know, I'm just the car guy with this turbo or he was looking for, oh, he said, If you call to interrupt them. I know you've been there. I mean, I can ask any guy and and, and I'm like, Well, I hope it wasn't a heart transplant. You know, he's doing yours and the guy would just come on for a minute. But you know, speaking of that title thing, I can't name names on this deal. But we had a fellow that was introduced to us when I was you know, we know when I left him It rolls and Bentley I started Stern's automotive strategies, brokering helping people get rid of their car. Find a car in arranging the transport the lease the trade in the inspection, the what's it worth and all that stuff? How do I do without getting hurt? Just the advice. And I never bought and sold. I mean I just strictly it advised and they paid me. So I get introduced to a fella who and I wish I could name him an interesting name but he was getting rid of a 1957 Ferrari that might give him away and it was it and I won't say which Ferrari because it if you find name the spec, you'll know who it is. And in a Daytona so one car at the time is going to be and I you know so funny how it Spanx, how expensive it seemed. And now when I think about it, how unbelievably cheap it seemed. But the 57 superamerica was a one off and built for so and so and 57 you know, blah, blah, blah, alloy body. And he wanted one 1.25 or million five or something for but he wanted done surgically, we'd recommend that he sell it at a pebble beach auction and, but he didn't want anyone to know because he had 50 friends that wanted it. So he didn't want anyone to know that he was selling it. So they came to us. My business turns automotive a lot of the business we do is because someone wants a surgical deal and doesn't want a lot and sometimes they ask us what auction has ended. So not always but you know, sometimes is that we end up getting a European buyer get $100,000 escrow deposit and and he's like, Yeah, I don't want to sell it now. So that was fun, you know, a month and a half of that, or whatever. And then he had a Daytona so we get the Daytona sold it to someone in Los Angeles, the guy in California pays me without a title. He's so excited to have the car. Now I didn't give the money to the to the owner of the car yet. He trusted me that I wouldn't convey the money in till there was a title. Or maybe he gave me 100 Grand i don't remember, you know, or something. But he gave me a substance again, that was cheap, too. I think we sold that car for 550,000. And both of them seem like Wow, look at these transactions were doing I know Yes. 15 years ago or so. Or maybe eight and you know now either one like they'd be those prices either one would be the barn find old lady that you hope doesn't wake up that she only sold you one for the million five or the other for 500 videos together many times that now. Yep. So I go to the seller and I say we need the title. And he says Well, I don't have a title. And
excuse me, maybe I misunderstood what you just said
Jeff Sterns 42:46
he started a charity. And when you mentioned flying to Colorado reminded me that he started a charity. And I guess the car was somehow titled or bill of sale to the charity. But the charity wasn't formed yet. Or foundation. Oh, so my partner at the time a big Tom will point you know, Tom
Jeff Sterns 43:10
Okay, so big Tom will point I'm like Cami Good job getting 100 grand deposit from the European on the super America. That's not a deal. And good job getting the 550 or whatever we got for the Daytona that's not a deal even though the car is shipped already. And we got the money already. Tommy flew, if I'm not mistaken to Indiana. I think that's where the charity was. And somehow walked through paperwork on forming a charity and dealing with the guys attorney or trust officer all those pieces. And for the listening audience and you could Alan Tell me if I'm wrong some times and selling one of these kinds of cars. This is the stuff you go through. I'm not saying every time but no one doesn't have a story similar right or wrong. Okay, so then he stays in hand walks through DMV paperwork to make a title for the car. Now the seller was so you know the seller that doesn't need to sell and the buyer that doesn't need to buy the seller was getting so lukewarm on selling his car he already walked away from his million whatever on the one car. He was so lukewarm on selling either one that he's like, well just get the car back. Oh, oh, just just do that. Should I repo it? I mean, like should I do and the guy's asleep or. And this in the buyer is threatening lawsuit because he sent me money that he won't take back. Understandably sure for the title to the car he loves. So when you mentioned getting stuck in Colorado, I can remember Tommy, I'll have to have him on a podcast and oh, yeah, well, I mean he has plenty of his own story. He on his own. Sure, including demoing, I think in a Bentley gt or a Hummer. I forget, Brian Johnson from AC DC, but not knowing who it was until they were passing the dome in St. Pete and him saying me and my boys play in there sometimes. And he's like, are you a soccer player or a baseball player? Like he didn't know who he was? Scottish accent I think and he says, Well, what do you do? He doesn't know who he's test driving. And he goes, Well, me and my boys have a band nine a fight. You know, I'm, I'm telling Tommy stories already on the Alan Morin. So that's a great story. And I'm glad that I said, Hey, do you have any interesting stories because a lot of guys go flat footed. I mean, you know, God knows I've been in 100 dinners or parties, and everyone wants to know, the latest story of whatever crazy things but then when he asked me out of the cold, tell me an interesting car story. Like they're all gone, like, you know, I can't. So that's a great one. And unless you'd like have another which I'm totally in, I'd move forward to how we met.
Okay. Let's, let's move forward. There's Yeah, there's a there's a lifetime's worth of stories. Not exactly like that, but of that magnitude where you go, okay.
Jeff Sterns 46:21
How am I add the as you have the transporter, idling wherever and waiting for the money I had. I had a transporter on the way to pick up a car in New Jersey and as your if I'm not mistaken, so Bentley convertible. And the dealer said that he wouldn't release the car unless the dealership wired the money. And I said, well, we're damaged Rolls Royce, which is part of an 85 year old Cadillac dealership, Dimmick Cadillac, the family was the southeastern distributor for Buick in the 40s. And I think we're the normal thing I don't know about you, but when I would buy a car from a dealer, which by the way, in the exotic business, you did an awful lot of buying from somewhere shipping from somewhere. You mentioned walk ins from DuPont, I personally experienced very few walk ins out of the give or take 25 exotic cars a month we sold which probably comprised of four or five new rolls, Bentley, Lotus, and then the 20 ish remaining. Being the odd used car could have been anything. Ferrari Lambo, big Mercedes, defender 90, you know, right, anything like that. Porsche, and I did have a black Carrera GT By the way, on my, when I used to broker the cars on Stern's automotive strategies, we had classified listing good customers cars, we didn't own anything. Yeah. And I got a million calls on that car. I guess black was rare.
You're very unusual,
Jeff Sterns 47:48
I guess. Right. Almost all phone rang. Yeah. Yeah, you know, I might as well have been selling it for half price is many phone calls as I got on the thing. In the end, the I would say and tell me if I'm wrong, but maybe our errors were different. Mine started in like, 99 on the exotic. But I probably our department, me and a couple other guys shipped, I would say and didn't meet the customer easily on 20 out of the 25. Like, never met him. Yeah. Was it like that for you then? Or was it more walk in at the time?
Well, at the dealership, it was almost all walk in, you know, not I shouldn't say walk in, but transactions at local locals.
Jeff Sterns 48:31
You met the customer in person. You met
the customer in person. You know, we you know, I drive around the state, I delivered a lot of cars to Miami. I mean, we probably once or twice a month, I was driving a car or transporting a car into the Miami market from Mercedes Benz brand new cars. That, you know, it's for Mercedes Benz dealerships down there. And they all all aggressive,
Jeff Sterns 48:57
very aggressive down there. Sure.
very aggressive dealership business down there. And for whatever reason, and it wasn't, it wasn't necessarily the money. I think a lot of times it would just we had the right car. And if and if we're working a deal on it, we occasionally get some the local dealer from Miami saying, Hey, we would like to trade for that car, we're probably working the same customer and we're entering. And ultimately we make the deal and the car would end up getting driven well, as long as the customer or the dealer made the mistake of saying where the car was coming from.
Jeff Sterns 49:29
Right. Or I suppose they would just start dialing around or you know, yeah, I'm looking for that kind of car. But then I'm thinking of the transport but did you do a lot of transporting or no, she does
a lot of transporting. A lot of transporting. It was a bit like it through through the magazine, all the all the exotics through the magazine, I think out of probably 20 cars that were sold while I was there. Two of them were in person two or three of them. Where, where the person came there the rest of them or remote shack cup.
Jeff Sterns 50:04
And those Rockers, let me let me get dealers off the hook around the world that customers get frustrated about shipping. I hate to say it, but there's many, many good transporters, there's many that I've been had a lot of good luck with. But very often to get the transporting job, sometimes you'd shop a transporting job, because you're just wants to know who's going that way. Or who can, you know, some guys are between 12 and 1500, you're hoping to find a 12 $100 enclosed transport to wherever you're going. But sometimes the job would be offered through the brokers or calling the transport company direct or putting it on a board would be professional athlete in Philadelphia, will only be home. Thursday afternoon, the 15th from two o'clock, to six o'clock, he has a thumbprint access to the garage. He's the only one that could get in to this part of the garage because it's got these kinds of cars in it. So I'm shopping the job not based on price, but based on Can you get it there on the 15th between two and 10. I'd get some yeses and I drill the guy drill the guy drill the guy, now the the athlete, the ballplayer, whatever is calling me. All right, I'm home, what time will the guy be here, I call the transport company. Well, we can't see the guy on the GPS GPS might be down. Now I'm getting the sick, my stomach. Finally I have to beat the crap out of the transport company to get the truckers number. They don't want to give you the truckers number of them. So I call the truck. And he's like I'm having a lift gate problem. I can't open my lift gate to get the car on get it off. You know, whatever it is. Well, you're going to Pittsburgh, you're going to Philly. And you're picking the car up in Houston. What day? Did you pick it up in Houston? Oh, a few days ago, you know, whatever. I just I'm stopping to get a repair. So now I call the dealer in Houston. When did the truck pick up the car? What do you think the answer was? So that he didn't come yet? Oh. I don't want to say that every time. Because giving the transport industry a bad name. But it's a lot story mapping often. Yeah, something, something like that. It's a lot.
You know, it's shocking to me, how often I hear that, a different version of that. And experienced that. More often than not, I can tell you of, you know, hundreds of cars that were shipped. The major authority of them. The majority is majority a word. Is that a French background thing? Yes. It is. It's crazy. That you know, and I understand there's a lot of extenuating circumstances and a lot of stuff that happens between here and there. But at some point, your pie and pie in the sky way of running your business affects other businesses and other people, instead of just saying realistically, this is what we do for a living. And we do this every day. And tough for us to commit to that would be irresponsible.
Jeff Sterns 53:18
What I was waiting for the guy to say I'm going there anyway, or for 500 bucks extra I'll send a single car trailer behind a Dodge diesel fifth wheel and run and grab the car to bring it to my depot. Like just tell me what you need, you know like that. So anyway, God knows how many flaming hoop deals, cliffhangers nail biters. So I'm going to jump forward, and I'm going to jump back, Allen, who I'm talking to, and I'm really grateful that you join me because you are just awesome to talk to I hope. I hope the audience is enjoying me as much as I am. I mean, I don't call this an interview. I call it a conversation that we're recording. But currently, you're at the Tampa Bay Auto mobiel Museum. And I'm just saying that, because now we're gonna back up a little bit more, because the guy who's giving you a little bit of a guidance when you come into the museum, which is what Allen does you want to see this What's your interest? Or did you know this about that? Or you know, whatever you do, we can fast forward to that in a little bit. But sometimes you don't know when you go to Home Depot. And you say to the guy in the aisle or the gal on the aisle, can you get me a tube of this glue, and they're walking you you don't know that maybe it's like the largest builder in the United States. You know, walking you to get the screw, you've got a guy in a museum for the same reasons that he got into the business you love. I'm gonna back up and then we're gonna go forward, because I want you to brag about yourself and I know you're a modest guy, but when you were selling cars, I think that you had a sales record that like No one had an office that ran as many dollars through their office as you did. right by the time you left that dealer group, but my closer my over, I mean, say the truth, it's not bragging if it's the truth.
That's true. That's true. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, that was, but you know, that was after eight years of doing that in one location. And, you know, got to a point where it was, it was, you know, you're doing, you're doing all you're doing all you can do six days a week. And, and, and you have an and you have the support of the dealership, you know, no one, no person is doing that by themselves, you know, that. That number of dollars that came through that office was a result of the dealership agreeing that we are all on, you know, on the same page between f&i parts and service, the level of support that I got at Crown Mercedes and was was exceptional. And it didn't start that way.
Jeff Sterns 56:02
happen. I, by the way, to the civilian means the finance insurance office, the guy who does the loan and helps you to get a warranty if you want, etc.
Yeah, yep, they get the deals bought. So, you know, in some cases, you know, you're you're leaning on a lot of people leaning on accounting, leaning on f&i, the, you know, the finance guys to get the deals bought, leaning on the service department
Jeff Sterns 56:24
to getting getting deals bought, Allen, let's assume our listeners not in the car business. Oh, yeah, well, what is getting deals bought me?
Well, so the the finance manager needs to take your car deal. And find a lender, whether it's the manufacturer or a bank, that will agree to the interest rate and terms necessary to make your deal work at the numbers that you've agreed to with the customer. You know, when the client when the client is there, you can make the assumptions that we'll be able to do these numbers based on this interest rate, and what you're telling us your credit score, and all these other factors are, when we come back and find out your debt to income is a little bit different, or your credit score is a little bit different, or your credit history is a little bit different. And you know, maybe your monthly payments gonna be a little bit different. And for most people, they that's not my problem. You know, and so they, they, they'll do the deal with their price. So you got to get the deal bought, which means the lender has to buy that paper from the dealership and say, well, we're in, we'll do we'll do those numbers. And we'll do
Jeff Sterns 57:35
what the circumstance under which the customer wants it set up structures. Correct. Yeah. So you for that, but you're so darn humble. It's, it's wonderful, because you've, I said, Hey, you accomplished some things, you ran some numbers that no one ran some revenue through your office. And you said, you know, here's how you deflected the compliment. You're like, Well, I mean, I was there a long time. I mean, it couldn't be my talent or trust that I built with customers for eight years. But you know, is there a year so it really, probably wasn't me. And of course, accounting really helped in the finance department really helped it all my manager. And it's wonderful that you give credit where credit's due. But the fact of the matter is, is you could have spent eight years developing a bad reputation to stay away from this guy, or eight years developing a following which you did. So please accept that compliment.
Thank you. I appreciate that. I and you know, and I watched a lot a lot of guys stand out there on the on the stand out there on the sidewalk with a cup of coffee and a cigarette waiting for the right prospect Rola. It's there to help you get to help you. So who wants to buy a car today? You know, it's instead of, you know, times where we'd have days where the phones wouldn't ring and nobody walked into that dealership weeks, in some cases where, you know, there's just like a morgue. There's nobody walking in, there's the phone's not ringing. And those guys are all standing out there complaining about it. And a few of us would get on the phones and call people
Jeff Sterns 58:59
walk through some of your prior, you know, it's the car you sold them? Is it the only car in their garage, the husband has a car, the wife has a car, the kid has a car, in your case, exotics, it could be whatever. And just because you call them when they hear the guy at the next booth at a restaurant, mentioning a car because you made yourself fresh in their mind. They remember to send them to you. But when you say a morgue and dead for a week or two or a day, I think one of the greatest sticks I've heard in the business was I've seen it go on like this for weeks. Do you remember the punch line? Yes. And then drop right off to nothing and then scrap often nothing. And the new sales guy he's like, you know, committing suicide in the bathroom. Yeah, we got another one hung himself.
Jeff Sterns 59:45
Oh my god.
Yeah, there was a point where we had we worked out though. And I was I had a new baby. My our first child in 1992. And I'm looking at that lot and they're nine cars and inventory nine and six. sales people. And if and there's nobody coming in and there's nothing ringing. I'm like, you know, I left the Honda dealership for this. Okay. And, you know, turn around, you know, it was it was it was a, that was about the time we got the Audi franchise on. Oh, great. We're gonna get the Audi franchise and Mr. Hawkins came by and he said, Hey, what do you know about outies? Like, well, I bought them. I know. Here's everything I know about Audi's is a great, you're going to be the new Audi brand specialist. So you're going to be selling Mercedes. And now you're going to add it to that. Great, that sounds exciting. I can't wait. Why did that happen? Well, we're gonna go down tomorrow, we're gonna pick up all the cars and the inventory, all the parts inventory, that we picked up three cars. And all of the parts of inventory fit into a box, like a, like a 24 inch wheel box. That was everything.
Jeff Sterns 1:00:46
So you and I met through DuPont registry. And I'm going to be honest, I don't remember if it was when they started developing this website, classifieds, and they put you on me or it was cars and coffee. How do you remember how we connected?
I think it was through the website, our web ads, and I was trying to get your I was trying to get your cars listed on our site.
Jeff Sterns 1:01:12
And I was so skeptical. Yeah,
yeah, I was.
Jeff Sterns 1:01:17
Right, who's gonna look at the web,
right? Yeah, that was that was. I'm thinking that was very early 2000. Like 2000 to 2001. Maybe? Somewhere in that? Maybe? 2002?
Jeff Sterns 1:01:32
Well, I remember my my rep at DuPont Tim bro. Yep. And if I'm not mistaken, is probably still there.
He's, I think he's contract now. But I think he is still selling for them from home.
Jeff Sterns 1:01:49
He said to me, and I think he turned me over to you. You know, I need you to get involved with this. website. Do you know the name Jay? smithwick. I don't you remember the company that would come around and take pictures of cars called auto take pictures of inventory called auto exact?
Jeff Sterns 1:02:09
So j Smith, who will be a guest, we're probably going to book today. And by the way, folks, were Thank you, Alan, this is Christmas Eve. So my wife's mad at me for going into the office and doing this. I don't know how you're doing but I'd be holding the baby while I'm cooking.
That's great. No,
Jeff Sterns 1:02:26
I'm like, Listen, it's Alan. You know, I mean, the my old cars and coffee and website like, you know, what do you want? I mean, you know, the baby's gonna have to wait. So, but Jay and I'll book but Jay was a salesperson of mine. At Carlisle, Lincoln mercury. My first career dealership, it wasn't my first job. But this was I spent 10 years there. And this was a 650 New And Used Car a month Lincoln mercury store biggest in the country, right? At times, they would. There was always like a number 123 fight. They were certainly largest in the company in certain categories. I know they were most profitable at certain times. I knew that we were like second to your leases when that came out when we were educating the public on leasing at least the plan that so but often in certain months largest in the country. I can't tell you if at the end of any year, they were absolutely number one, but it's not chopped liver. When you're selling 650 new and us Lincoln's and Mercury's in a month in writing repair orders and getting dropped off 200 cars a day for service. That was I mean really, really, really a machine. And Jay was working. I was a new manager. He was one of our very talented sales guys in 90 or 91 a very handsome tall bastard. Ex Marine, if I recall, but had that perfect posture and flat top and built in eyeliner, you know, around his eyes, you know, just I mean, I'm, I'm straight. But I mean, you know, let's admit it. He ended up leaving us as a salesperson and he got into a couple of entrepreneurial things. But eventually he came to me and I was a brand new general sales manager at dimmitt Cadillac and Land Rover. There was no exotic brands yet. And I was young. I was 30 I might have been the youngest GSM or Cadillac who knows in the nation. But Jake came to me and said, Listen, if I took pictures of all of your used car inventory, and can build you a page to put on the back of your website to list all of your cars so people can look. J says Can I put all your cars on your website, this would be again late 90s For $500, he asked me, this is Jay. You know, I don't know, I don't know if anyone's looking on the website. For cars, I'm right now when a car, an exotic car comes in, so the you trade it in rolls, Bentley, Ferrari, Lotus, whatever, I would go take it under a tree on the grass, and so there'd be no glare on it. And I would take a series of photos of it. And then I would run to the drugstore, I think eckerd drugs. And I'd asked for five copies of them printed whatever four by five, or you know, glossy and I put them in a card file box with not that car on a tab but all turbo RS all coordinations all 350 fives all you know, whatever. So someone would call about a car, I could throw pictures in a FedEx. So I was thinking well, between taking developing photos and fedexing I'm spending 500 ish. I don't think I'll get to give up on all of that, because not everybody even had email to send pictures to or could look on the site. And I said I'll try it. The bonus would be because I was only thinking exotic, that he was going to be taking pictures of all the the Cadillac and Landrover used inventory anyway, which I was never taking vote, you know, I wasn't overnighting pictures of a used DeVille that anybody? That was the walk in traffic? I believe that dimmitt Cadillac was customer 001 or auto exact now, you know, Jay has hundreds and hundreds of dealers now. And since then he's also developed a product. Have you heard of this 360 booth?
Jeff Sterns 1:06:47
He's also the inventor of you pull your car in, you turn this giant booth on tracks around it, it's got lighting in it, it's got a camera fixed. So it goes all around it, you put a camera inside, so it does a 360 view. And he he makes a massive difference in the action that a dealer gets. And why he did it his his guys could never find a nice setting to take pictures of the cars when they were that's what gave him the brainchild like I can't make these cars look good because I'm taking them behind the body shop. Sure.
Yeah. Makes sense.
Jeff Sterns 1:07:20
However, now more than ever, well, however, we got off on the tangent about j I can't even tell you but Oh, it's because you came to me with the website. That was like a strange proposition. Just like Jake, coming to me. Do you want me to put your cars on the internet on your website was a strange proposition. And that's how you and I met? And of course the DuPont registry. Cars and coffee event? Yes. on third. Third Saturday,
yep. Third Saturday. Yep, top Tom came Tommy pot came back from California. And he was out there at some event that he said, Hey, I was stopped into Starbucks on the way to the airport Saturday morning and they're having a car show out there in the parking lot of Starbucks, like Lamborghinis and Ferraris and muscle cars and all kinds of cool stuff. And apparently they do this every week. People just show up. This is just a kind of a organic thing is they just hang out. You know, I can't believe we're not doing something like that here. And this was I think it was April. April of oh five. Vinnie Russo. Do you know Vinnie?
Jeff Sterns 1:08:32
I know Vinnie. Well, and he's a podcast guest. Oh,
great. Vinnie, you know, we were doing events. And then he was running our most of our events at that point. And so we all sat down and came up with this idea for this cars and coffee and came up with a logo and said, You know, so we all started hitting the enthusiasts sites like Ferrari chat calm and those types of things and rent list and just blast it out the idea in a small email blast and that kind of stuff. And our first cars are coffee. June oh five was a huge success. We had 10 cars. I remember your 12 car they were 12 cars, and we brought eight of them.
Jeff Sterns 1:09:19
What year was this?
This was oh five june of Oh, five. I think I think you were there. That one or one of the first?
Jeff Sterns 1:09:25
I was there early. And I'm thinking because my son I'm trying to think he's 1805 so was a three or four Could I brought him I mean, he was always a car freak. He's still a car. My my 18 year old son has two cars. He has a driver. Oh three Ford truck. Okay. And he has a 71 Ford F 100. slammed the motor work. I can't park in the garage. You know it's it sits in the garage. Cool. So he's into it into it. But I believe that I was taking him They're at three or four. And I remember that it could be cold. I could probably find a picture of myself. But I think I went to Amelia Island car show one year concore. And when I got off the plane, my my buddy, thank God he I mean, I was so fortunate that he took me at my dear friend Steve Hughes, owner or founder of St. Elmo Steakhouse in Indianapolis, and ex president of steak and shake, total car freak. I can't think of the name of course I'll think of it when we're done. But he has the fastest single engine Prop, herbal prop out. What is it?
Is it the Pilates
Jeff Sterns 1:10:41
no loss or Mooney known a Mooney is a smaller what one or two? Yes, passenger. This was like six passenger,
Jeff Sterns 1:10:52
filling me up. I'll think of it as courts as soon as we're done. Okay. So anyway, he flew us to Amelia and it was freaking freezing and raining and they had boards going across puddles for people to walk. And look two years ago. No, no, this was around cars and coffee because I remember walking straight into the hotel. I think it was Ritz Carlton and going into their gift shop and buying a an Amelia Island windbreaker jacket. Too expensive, of course, but what could I do? I mean, I could be dead in an hour.
And I remember they probably like 60 degrees.
Jeff Sterns 1:11:36
Well, I don't I don't think it was that cold. But there were people frozen solid. And, you know, I always think of Florida, you know, so funny when when there's a hurricane warning the store employees have beer. When it's below 65 no one can go to work. You can't, you know, you can't go to your car. Yes, I'm forgivable conditions, right. And I you know, I imagine when it's like in the 50s that we're all like those Mount Vesuvius people that they found stuck frozen in the lava, you know, in their position. That that's how we are, you know, at 55 but I remember I used to wear that Amelia Island windbreaker because it could be cool there on a morning. And it probably was also because I would bring some cool spider or convertible or I probably even brought my 31 Ford hot rod that was a supposed to be a look like a 32 b model. Black with flames with a flat.
I've seen that word. I think you brought that to cars and coffee.
Jeff Sterns 1:12:41
I think I did. Yes. It might have been why I was wearing the jacket. Okay, because they're, you know, the windshield was this high. Yeah. And chopped, and you know, whatever. And, you know, there's like riding a motorcycle, love that car, like cars and coffee really was legendary here in the area. I mean, I know there's cars and coffee all over the country. But it wasn't well heard of, I mean, for Tom DuPont to say, hey, there's this thing going on in LA?
Yeah, yeah. So it was not and he you know, at one point in one of his publishers letters in DuPont registry, there was a point I think it was 2008 began in 2008. When the when the crisis was starting to hit a little bit more the dealership business was dropping, he wrote a letter that, look, we didn't trademark this pet cars and coffee idea. We would encourage all dealers and anybody as an enthusiast everywhere in the country, to have your own cars and coffee, get people out to drive in their cars. And let's show some signs of life in the car and the car passion. That that was one of those things. I think it helped a little bit, but it just, you know, the idea of it just being a cruise in where you know, there's not a lot of rules. You know, it's it's pretty loosey goosey. And you started super early. That thing started at seven ran 7am to 9am. And we had so many people that would whoa My God, can you not make it at 7am? Could you could we do it like a reasonable hour, like started at nine and go to 11? Right? We already have 150 or 200 cars that we have no room for every two every month. Let's Let's not make the problem worse a and also six months out of the year. In Florida. You don't want to be on that parking lot at nine in the morning till 11 when the sun is right on that black tarmac. So no doubt. It worked out worked out just great. And you know, you got people coming in there with you know 32 Fords or you know the latest Bugatti or McLaren and you have the kids that with their 15 $100 a $2,000 car you can tell they've been nothing but spending every penny they've gotten detailing it and cleaning it. You know they're gonna hope to park next to a Lamborghini or something, you know, someday Someday they're going to be that guy.
Jeff Sterns 1:15:02
In the beautiful thing about the cars and coffee is there was nobody snobby. There was nobody with any attitudes. There was a lot of people letting kids sit in their car. And yeah, I mean, I think, well, I liked it. But you know, the, how they sounded when they left.
Oh, yeah. Yeah, that
Jeff Sterns 1:15:21
sometimes be a little over the top. But it was Yes. Did you ever get in trouble over that?
We, we have, you know, we're starting to shoot videos of that, and posting the videos on Facebook or on other social media. It's started we think to make it too much of a opportunity to be over the top because you're, you know, going to do something to make you famous. And we had one car that that left the road and bended itself. We got a Dodge Charger. That was a really nice restored 440 charger, that when he left and he jumped on it got a little sideways, he overcorrected, and nosed it into the ditch and bent it out. Fortunately, there was no people standing right there, there's people close enough. And, you know, we watched some of those videos and said, You know, there's some cars leaving here that are just not really seeming like they're in control, we need to have a Pinellas County Sheriff's station, just have their presence there. And that'll that column, the whole thing down it made it you can still rev your engine, you can still do some stuff like that, you know, still make some sound but not do so you know, stuff that can hurt somebody. So that that became also a fixture of the Pinellas County Sheriff's off duty people there. And it was good for them, you know, kind of a community thing where they were able to walk through the car show as well, and shake people's hands and people thank them for their for their work. And that was positive for them as well.
Jeff Sterns 1:16:58
maps are cool. I mean, you know, they love the cars, the people that are respectful. I've been pulled over and I don't want to say many, I mean, I don't want to I don't want to fabricate my past but factually didn't get pulled over a million times. But I've been pulled over in some pretty heavy cars. And I think half the time was because you couldn't see my dealer license plate or, you know, whatever. Yeah, cuz I was going crazy. But I was certainly driving aggressively because I don't mean like putting other people in danger. But I'm accelerating hard. I'm listening to the exhaust. I'm staying too long in second gear, you know, whatever may be going on over on the base. At the most not residential? Yes. Residential was 20 over schools. Sometimes I say, Look, man, I mean, I'm showing this car to this fella next to me. I mean, I'm not trying to be reckless. And I got a couple of cops to take rides. You know, not like as a bribe. I mean, but they knew that I wasn't stealing. It knew that I wasn't, you know, being a total jerk. This is, this is the new f1 transmission in the 360. You want to try it out and I'll see you in a minute. And I'd get out.
They'd have my customer in the passenger side still. Even better. So pretty funny. That's one to have a video of, of course, identity of the officer. Yeah.
Jeff Sterns 1:18:21
In those days on my star CAC phone,
not too many videos,
Jeff Sterns 1:18:28
not often. No. And I think you know, my heaviest phone I had in stores was a blackberry pearl. It may have had video. But you still have that, don't you? I have a little Smithsonian Museum of my past cell phones. My first in 91 9090 I met my first wife in 91. So I remember the big deal, the story where she told her mother, and he has a cell phone, Motorola 650 Oh, the brick. That I mean, I could be out on my dock and I could tap loose nails in you know, with the thing, but I think back then it was 50 cents a minute. Oh, yeah. Or something to use the thing? Yeah. Analog. So any interesting stories from cars and coffee?
Well, of course that car gets stuffed into the corner there or into that. And that's
Jeff Sterns 1:19:27
That's not an interesting, you know, any scuffles between the displayers You know, it was always surprising that you had so many people with different you know, from this exotic guys, the Ferrari guys with their, you know, red suede loafers to the not to stereotype because they're not allowed to the muscle car guy who he put that engine in that car, and oh, and he did all of that body work and paint and beautiful stuff and everything and he's doing everything. He His own with those two hands to the kid with the 15 $100 civic, and they're all talking like their best friends. And you know, to me that was a great illustration of common interests, not getting in the way of other things and differences. So the differences don't matter at that point. What caught What matters is the common interest. And that that was pretty cool to to observe and the enthusiasm at one of the cars and coffees we did a gold rush rally. And that one had, we had room for about 270 cars on the DuPont parking lot. DuPont publishing parking lot at about another 150 275 cars on the adjacent parking lot. And another 100 125 cars down the street on both sides of the street. Pinellas County Sheriff came out we had three volunteers or three of the off duty Pinellas County Sheriff's for the cart for the Gold Rush cars and coffee. And they shut down the tech drive street because they said we have over 1000 cars that they've counted down the street. And we thought wow, okay, because we wonder why they shut the whether or not anybody else in down the road this you have over 1000 cars and you have emergency vehicle needs to get down here. We have a problem if you have any more cars in here. Well, that's why it's Well, the problem is that you actually have more cars than that on 34th Street, right there parking across the road and walking across from chick fil a. And so you know, you might have 2000 cars at this event right now. My wife came to shoot video and pictures for that. And she was there early. And she said she had to walk a half a mile from down by the psta bus place to get to get
Jeff Sterns 1:21:53
there. You would never imagine there was that kind of population of vehicles in the area. Nope. Because we're not. I mean, this is still suburbs of Clearwater, Florida. We're not Miami, Palm Beach Lauderdale.
Right? Yeah, it was look like it looked like in Los Angeles or, you know, Chicago or New York event. It was. That was that was that was the one where Okay, let's not do that was great and interesting and everything. But let's not do that again.
Jeff Sterns 1:22:22
So then you ended up I mean, I know you're doing the right thing. But weren't you running DuPont boats to
write for for a few years there from 2007 to 2011. But we had Boulevard customs, the custom shop that was bought moved in there in 2005. So I worked with that team. I was the manager there from Oh 5207. And then the boat magazine had our editor in chief left. So I replaced him from Oh, seven to 2011 also kind of overlapped Boulevard custom somehow in there in that timeframe, as well. Up until this year 2020, beginning of 2020 the building sold and we ended up choosing not to relocate Boulevard customs to another location they DuPont registry was in a building that was suitable for the analog age. But in the digital age, they didn't need 120,000 to 110,000 square feet. One cool
Jeff Sterns 1:23:27
thing about DuPont as a business when I would go in there and visit once in a while. Was the cars inside.
Yes. The museum. Right?
Jeff Sterns 1:23:36
How many were in there? Do you recall
anywhere from 25, typically around 25. But anywhere from 20 to 40 cars would be in there at any one time.
Jeff Sterns 1:23:47
Yeah, I mean, that's I mean talk about I mean, that was a passion. Business.
Yes. They were into it. They were into it. Tom DuPont and Steve Chapman, both very serious car enthusiasts, which you know, what was the genesis of that magazine they buying and selling cars and realizing autotrader that's the that's the big solution to finding cars or selling cars nationally newsprint so they came up with a better way to present automobiles and that work that's what continues to work right for for them and for dealers. But now that
Jeff Sterns 1:24:22
that Museum, where'd all the cars go?
They sold off. Most of them. Actually. The some of them you know stayed with the family. Right now. We actually Tom teapots 1929 DuPont model g for place speedster is at the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum,
Jeff Sterns 1:24:43
where you're now spending some time
correct that is the SIR family. Yep, sir. Families hosting that car temporarily. And so it was a car that was the 2007 Pebble Beach best in class car. That It's a pretty, pretty stout trophy for that incredible turn. Yeah, incredible car. So that one and we've got also a 1912 rosche and Lange, electric. That is not that that's also a friend of the museum. Alex Williams from Clearwater. That's an interesting cars. Well, he, his great grandfather bought that brand new in Cleveland Cincinnati in 1912. And it stayed in the family since 108 years now.
Jeff Sterns 1:25:32
And isn't Steve Chapman from Cincinnati? He is Yeah, incidentally, I don't know why that would matter in this story. I just you know, I did I have no impulse control, you know, whatsoever. That's all right. Because what's that got to do with where the Galactic cargo the the first Tesla
right. You know, so you know that but it actually it's kind of housing whether Steve Chapman from Cincinnati the car from Cincinnati, it's kind of interesting that how how paths cross and you know, these French Mechanical Engineering Family, the serf, Ellen and Olivia and Emmanuel and Susan surf these car enthusiasts, mechanical engineers, bring this collection of engineering masterpieces to Pinellas Park, you know, they bring that business from France, that packaging, poly pack packaging business, from France in 1972. And bring with it their family and their car passion. And they've got this state of the art, manufacturing solar power manufacturing facility, and a museum. And I walked in there and I'm thinking, this is just incredible. You know, these, this, this is right here in Pinellas Park. There's, I don't know that there's another museum like it anywhere that has the kind of innovation that they're that they're so enthusiastic about right here in front of us.
Jeff Sterns 1:27:06
Wonderful car family. I met Olivier on a Lotus Elise order when the car was not out yet. And then the dad
Jeff Sterns 1:27:20
like Elaine, right,
it's al Ayane. It's actually my name Alan, but the front end French France, they would normally not call anybody by, it would not be a la they would spell al AI n and it's pronounced Li.
Jeff Sterns 1:27:35
Great. So I've been asking for a lane for you know,
that's, that's why we have these conversations, Jeff.
Jeff Sterns 1:27:41
But you're so French. I mean, you're so you know how you smoke cigarettes.
Jeff Sterns 1:27:48
I think you should because I need to cross your legs that long way and hold it this way. And yeah, I mean, you're just all like, you know, thank you for all these. You kind of remind me of my neighbor when we left Detroit, de la. We moved from there to Ottawa, Canada for a year. My dad had a buddy with a business up there, and he was helping him run it for a little while that'll be a story for another day. It actually had something to do with the him getting custody of my brother and I he, after six years of court deciding custody of my brother and I when my folks split up, the attorney let my dad know that because you're a car dealer, you can't win. So you need to change careers. So my dad's buddy and in Ottawa, was running a nightclub that bought the part of the dance floor from the movie set of Saturday Night Fever. And they called it the studio 54 of Canada or avato and the disco day so when once my father got out of the disrespectful unrespectable business of being a car dealer, and went into the Saturday Night Fever nightclub business.
Yeah, the Honorable disco bar scene.
Jeff Sterns 1:29:08
Well, it right because why would you want your dad to bring home a 38 Oakland for the kids to look at at night when you could bring, you know a waitress in cocaine? I mean it definitely. So anyway, we lived in Ottawa for a year all while he went through this gyration he got custody of my neighbor that we would play with there was a kid whose name on the mailbox was exactly the same as a guy that my dad went to lunch with almost every day that guy would come into my dad's car a lot. They would walk to the luncheonette a couple doors down. And the guy's name was Louie. Bressler Louie Bressler. Okay, my next door new next door neighbor on the mailbox says Bressler. I'm playing with the kids. It's a very familiar name with me. The dad comes home Hey, I'm Jeff This is my brother Michael. Good to meet you Mr. Bressler. He says, Brazil. Yay. That's you, Alan, sir. So I ended up getting a Olivier's dad a green Bentley Continental GT and like, like an old four.
Jeff Sterns 1:30:29
So, I know I know the family and I've certainly been to the museum and they've got some unbelievably interesting stuff but I want to stay on Boulevard customs.
Can I interrupt? Of course, the most interesting car we just got. You will appreciate is a 1913 wait for it. Sterns, knight, Sterns, knight, I got to come get a picture with it. You've got to get a picture with it. It is in addition to having a super cool name. It is an amazing automobile. I had no idea such a car existed. It's this big grand car. You know how the 1929 DuPont is just this big, grand car, scale that up another 10 or 20%. Just scale the whole car up. Put a big sleeve valve motor in it a Charles Knight sleeve valve motor. And you got a 70 mile per hour 1913 six passenger automobile. And it unbelievable. it and it this this car. This particular car had a 25 year restoration
Jeff Sterns 1:31:44
to get it to where to find the parts. Right or make the parts find and make parts? Yeah, where are you going to? Where do you what catalog do you go to for that car?
Right? Not Whitney? Not JC Whitney?
Jeff Sterns 1:31:57
Right? When I think a JC Whitney I think of getting my FM converter for my 63 vw. There you go. Yeah,
yeah. or bigger jugs.
Jeff Sterns 1:32:09
Or, or 12 volt.
Whatever. All right. Make your 1500 cc VW engine 1800 CCS. That's right.
Jeff Sterns 1:32:18
That's right. So yeah, I will, I'll for sure come to the museum. And I'm assuming that I get some kind of discount when I walk in the door. Oh, absolutely. Senior discount. I had to Oh, my god. I'm not coming in. I'll never come in. I had to. I had Listen, man, I've had gray hair since I'm 30. Whatever, right? Early 30s. And that's because I've been a sales manager in a dealership. Since you know, my mid 20s
I'm gonna I'm gonna make hair jokes. Come on.
Jeff Sterns 1:32:51
Thank you, I was gonna ask you to powder that I'm getting a sunburn. But that'll be. Maybe we'll edit that. But so I've had gray hair forever. So people hit me at a higher age for forever. It just is what it is. And I remember being at the outlet shops in Orlando. At the I don't say Ralph Lauren store, I don't know, getting some shirts or something. And the girl says, you get 20% off. It's Tuesday. And I said, I didn't drive over here to Orlando in two hours away. Because it's Tuesday. I mean, what's going on? She goes, Well, senior senior discount day. This was about eight years ago. So I was about 48. So what can I tell you?
Yeah, well, we're generous. We do it for us. We do for over 55 so
Jeff Sterns 1:33:37
I'm not over 55 I'm 55 I don't want the discount.
35 or up.
Jeff Sterns 1:33:42
You're getting it. I i when i get the AARP stuff in the mail, I toss it, you know, and you do. Okay. I don't want to see that. I don't want to. I'm not. I'm not acknowledging that everyone already thinks my wife is my granddaughter.
I get that too.
Jeff Sterns 1:34:00
Okay. All of our customs. Yeah. So I remember selling for example, Roy Jones, a fighter Phantom when that car came out. And he couldn't take delivery of it until we put the televisions in it and the I don't know if it was PlayStation or you know, some kind of video game stuff in the back. Yeah. You guys may have done it. Yeah, we may have we used to send a lot of stuff to Boulevard. Yes. So I know that between Shaq with the Superman because I had one of his cars in with the Superman steering wheel I'm certain it had no airbag. I mean it was this like metal billet s in the middle. I don't know could have had an airbag but the essence I'm thinking about it now. And as somewhere in the grille on this Bentley as your and I don't know if the back seats are removed and made into stereo equipment or the seat was just against it, but the front seat track was moved all the way to the back. I mean, there was no back seat. Sure. But I think this is what I think of when I think of Boulevard customs. I think of these Roy Jones as video games and checks. Yeah, that seat so I mean, tell me some cool stuff you've done for who? Well, the one you're allowed to name I understand that. Sometimes we keep it confidential.
Yeah, I mean it it was it was just so all over the place. The answer The answer to almost any Can you or will you was Yes.
Jeff Sterns 1:35:29
You know, some crazy g wagen. If I recall, probably correct.
Yeah. That was one of the big that was one of the highlights of the time there. Mercedes Benz USA, was looking to give a little bit of an extra punch to their new small SUV, the GLK and the GLK was to be a 2010 model year that they were going to release in 2009. And they wanted to do something to make it extra cool to give it a little more cool factor. So they had something called the SEMA tuner challenge. And this was a competition to submit your concept for what to be one of four builders to have a Sema vehicle that Mercedes Benz was going to fund the whole thing so they provide you the vehicle, the funding to build it, the transportation to Sema, airfare hotel, the whole thing, the whole Sema, the whole Sema gig, you're there for a week on on Mercedes Benz budget. I think there was originally 120 submissions nationwide from custom shops. And then it was getting down to, at some point got down to 12. And summer of 2008, I think it was July of 2008, they finally said, Hey, congratulations, you're one to four, you know, the car needs to be done by October 1, because we're going to be doing some pre promotional photography and all that. And then these get transported there and the same as the beginning of November. So it's got to be done by October 1. Sounds good. Well, you know, we're gonna have that that cardio shortly. Great, because August, and September is eight weeks. And this is going to take every bit of eight weeks, we really would like to have 12. So we end up getting that car, I believe it was late, mid mid August, mid or late August, we had six weeks to transform this this GLK into this urban beach cruiser. And so the team down there, you know, Mike Keizer and, and his crew worked for the most part seven days a week for you know, for six weeks, and a lot of a lot of times you come in the morning and there were still they were still there you come and open the open the doors at eight in the morning, and there's a couple of guys sleeping on the sofa. They've been there all night. And they ended up getting done and getting done just in time. And there was a big, you know, global voting competition and they got, you know, the most votes for you know, favorite people's favorite, you know, version of the four different cars, but it was renntech Boulevard, customs, Bravo, us. And you legendary motorcars were the four shops that built that the built four different versions, they all went to Sema and they did a big deal. That was that was that was a big adventure. And that lots of other things like we start doing a lot of sprinters. And one of them one of the great projects was a company called Davidoff of Geneva. And they wanted to have a mobile cigar lounge for their xeno Platinum brand. These are $40 a piece cigars. And they wanted to have some better way to present their products then one of their salespeople showing up with a case in a rental car and open up the case and set up a table and attempt. They want to show up with a whole vehicle with the whole experience. So we had an iPad controlled custom interior with a humidor and an espresso machine and a bar
Jeff Sterns 1:39:14
please got a ventilation system
and a huge ventilation system. So that and you know, tailgating area with big screens and there was screens, we you know, put screens up against the windows so it looked like the windows were the screen from the outside. And that was that was a great. That was a great experience they had actually sent us they hired a driver and told us they wanted us to take it out for a road trip. The crew and they filled the bar up, they filled the humidor up, they said we want the bar to come back empty. We want the humidor to come back empty. You smoke those cigars. You drink the drinks and we went we want to take you guys out on the town and this is also test to see what breaks. So because it's gonna be going on the road for the next six months, it's gonna be going nationwide it's gonna be looping the country. So run it hard. Bring it back with nice so we did we took the crew out and we had a big night on the town on that and we did take care of the scars and and and all the drinks.
Jeff Sterns 1:40:22
Did we break anything?
We did not break anything but we did test that ventilation system with the with the cigars. I mean, you have six guys back there smoking the big cigars.
Jeff Sterns 1:40:34
And it just did it just filter and recirculate or was it like a chimney stop blowing stuff out.
It had a big exhaust fan on the top, we put it we built in a 2000 CFM exhaust fan to
Jeff Sterns 1:40:48
pull air through when you guys came pulling up it was like spicoli pulling up in the car.
Yeah, that that. That's, you know, that'd be another kind of business now, you know, with medical marijuana, I guess they could build one of those. There's a whole different whole different product up there.
Jeff Sterns 1:41:06
We'll edit that part out. So no one steals the idea you and I can
Yes, there you go.
Jeff Sterns 1:41:11
Oh my god, any interesting people, breakdowns, meltdowns, missed deadlines, freak outs while you're customizing these cars that oh my gosh,
like, yes, yes, there was there was we didn't frequently have to call law enforcement. But it did. You know, sometimes they're the passions of some of these folks who wanted their what they wanted in their 26 inch wheeled, you know, empower with, you know, $40,000 in stereo, the expectation levels versus reality weren't always in line. So we would we would occasionally have people that were pretty exuberant personalities, in some cases, professional athletes, that they're not used to hearing No.
Jeff Sterns 1:42:06
And right, they're living that life in a vacuum that entourage life. No one's telling him No, no one's telling him you're being jerky.
Right? You know, so we there was, there was a few of those, a few of those meltdown situations where you're gonna, you're gonna be tested on your ability to de escalate. So there was a few, a few strong challenges on that. But that, you know, some of them some of the best growth, my professional life and personal life happened as a result of these interactions with some of these people that you come into contact with you, you know, one baseball coach that we had there, who he made such an impact when he would come in there. He was what I consider I'm not a big sports guy. But if I were to say, who's the who's the greatest, you know, sports leader in, you know, from my standpoint, from my perspective, it would be him and he, he just had an impact. Whenever he came in there, the place was different when he left, everybody.
Jeff Sterns 1:43:11
He just touched everybody
just touched everybody. And he brought the whole place up to another level. Everybody he came into contact with, he left them a little bit better. And it was a it was something that was humbling to me, you know, that this guy could could have anything he wants, he could he could get anything he wants. And he wanted and he expected nothing. You know, and he gave everything. So pretty extensive, beautiful, extraordinary person.
Jeff Sterns 1:43:44
Look at selling Lincoln's selling Cadillac selling Ford selling used car, you know, selling all the things I've sold BMW, I've met a lot of amazing as you have, you know, I've met a lot of amazing, amazing, amazing people. And it's got nothing to do with the wealth or whatever. I mean, God knows the world war two vet couple that likes to tell you the story, how one would work the night shift, and one would work the day shift to put food on the table and the story of the salami sandwich that they made every day, put it in the fridge overnight and then took the salami out. So it tasted like that. And then on the final day of the week, they leave the salami in or something you know, I'm selling them a car and they're so proud now that they can buy a new car because they sold the house in New Jersey for 475 grand and their new condo down here is 50. And they kind of have money for the first time. I mean, these people are of course inspiring over and over and over. But one thing I found in exotic cars because you just run into a higher number of wealthy people are that the impressive ones seem more impressive because they live their life. I say in a vacuum or with no feedback. No one tells them they're being a jerk. Nobody tells them that wasn't the right move. They live in this entourage world where a CEO or An athlete or whatever has a lot of people just telling them how great they are or not telling them how bad something is. So the ones that turn out like your ball, baseball coach, as unreal people, they kind of grew that way without a lot of anyone putting steaks on their tree to make it go this way or this way. They kind of found that way on their own. Yeah. So it's either choices out what kind of person they want to be, or unbelievable parents or you know, whatever. But I always found these people more impressive when they are on the generous end of the spectrum. Because it was really easy. We've seen it for them to be tantrum children that can have tantrums when they don't get their way I agree that you know, some are amazing and we can have another show about some of the you know, one that comes to mind for me as I say let's have another show and then here is I've been working really hard I hope you'll see her on but I've been working really hard trying to get Sonia Davis on this podcast, who was Johnnie Cochran is assistant paralegal. Oh, and I used to sell Johnnie Cochran cars. He was out in LA but you know, it is like half the cars are shipped you know? Sure. And referred by you know, I met him because another guy at the valet stand at the Beverly Wilshire where they were both living or part time or you know, he has a new or knowledge or something Bentley or nudge pull up or a new body or nudge pull up to the valet stand in Johnnie Cochran standing there. In a Bentley turbo car pulls up for Johnny and the guy who is my customer who probably sent me 35 customers that bought you know, so a great guy says you're Johnnie Cochran, you're driving an old body style. He calls me and it's like 11 o'clock. On a Sunday night I'm passed out on the couch, and my phone rings and my wife says it's Kevin. So of course when it's your customer, you you answer you take it and I'm just like, dude, I'm asleep. What you know, I had enough rapport with him. He was I'm standing here with Johnnie Cochran and I got him talking to the new body so go ahead and I had a deposit by the time I hung up the phone with them standing at the valet station to go find him whatever. black and tan whatever you know eat but he was a doll I mean, you know say what you may about oj innocent or guilty. But when I would deal with him on two cars one that he took delivery of one and one that Sonia the assistant called me Hey, Johnny sick. Can we get out of this deal? Can you refund his deposit? I didn't know how sick he was. But he was gone. I think within a month so he was you know, sick, sick. But he would be like, once in a while I get a call while this car was in order a Jeff Yeah. Hey, it's Johnny. I'm so sorry. I know. We've already agreed on the wood but I'm just I don't know Birdseye Maple or bro walnut with the silver. I hate and did I make the mistake on the wheels or not? I'm so sorry, Jeff. You know, I mean, the guy was just a doll. Yeah. And I'm praying that if you're listening, Sonia, that I'll get her on to talk about it. Because when we when she and I talk about him from time to time, we still stay in touch. It's stories like that. He's just a sweet, sweet. He was a sweet guy, but I have a million of those and you have a million of those. So we'll have to make that an episode. Sorry. He's gone. Also. Speaking of gone I got my Billy Mays bobblehead. VO
ROMs Ellie was in quite
Jeff Sterns 1:48:35
a number of cars a number of cars. Yeah.
People like that. The people that you come into contact the stories you know the cars and coffee the dealerships Boulevard customs, Stearns automotive the people that that you come into contact with and you spend time with inform you your life
Jeff Sterns 1:48:52
Well, it's all about the people anyway I mean, we love the cars. Yeah, but we love the people but Billy I was selling used Cadillacs to when he was doing home shows selling the pots and pans and knives and salsa spinner before he got big and TV. So he was already a used Cadillac customer before he got big enough to start buying the Bentley's and stuff. Promise So anyway, great question. What are you driving now?
Well, I'm actually driving a Yukon XL GMC Yukon XL. Because I'm pulling a we we have some rental property and some doing some some construction things, just some renovations. And so it is a vehicle that we had actually used at DuPont for DuPont events. And I got that out of the closure of that part of the business and
Jeff Sterns 1:49:48
that was your golden executive golden parachute. You can have the Yukon
kind of kind of like that. It was a well I had a nine I was driving the 911 2009 11 for the past I guess 10 or 11 years, chain tensioner guides decided to go loose. So it became a project car.
Jeff Sterns 1:50:09
Listen, don't apologize for anything. I mean you know it cars, our cars and we have reasons we drive them. I when I was I did Derek Bell a few days ago in a conversation and his daily driver in Chichester, you know farm. He's got a 550 and 924 GTS and you know, interesting cars. And I said, What do you drive in Florida? He goes, Well, there's you can't really drive here so nothing. I'm like, you don't have a car in your garage. Well, you'll see I have cars here but his daily driver. I'll give you five bucks if you can guess Go ahead.
His daily driver here.
Jeff Sterns 1:50:44
I'll zelie you five bucks right now. You can guess at his Boca house. what's what's in his garage for him? Not as white?
Is it a Is it a truck? Can you can you give me a Can you give me a Is it a truck? No. Is it got two wheels?
Jeff Sterns 1:51:03
No. I mean, it's got at least two wheels.
Good for you.
Jeff Sterns 1:51:16
one a year old turquoise Wrangler? softtop.
Gosh, that is the opposite of a driver's vehicle.
Jeff Sterns 1:51:24
But I you know, I find that interesting. So you don't need to like start explaining your Yukon? I'm just you know, yeah, this is where our related? Yep. What would you have? If you tripled your income? It might still say I'll keep the Yukon I don't care. Or maybe not. What would you do?
Yeah. It would probably be I like nine elevens an awful lot. You know, it would probably be a an air cooled 911 late air cooled 911 like a 993. You know, not a turbo. Not a non turbo. You know, like, you know, one of the one of the late 90 993
Jeff Sterns 1:52:07
I'm saying I had a 90. I had the 88. Read whaletail you know, I had the poster car. Yeah. And then I had the what's the last air cooled 9598 98 Okay, I had a 95 or six. That wasn't at the absolute data. But I had a 95 or six white and blue. s Oh, can I rose? Yeah, it was beautiful.
With the little little vents in the quarters by the doors. little round holes.
Jeff Sterns 1:52:43
You know what? I don't want to say cuz I don't remember. I do remember the automatic wailed, you know, the automatic.
A Turbo S is right now like 97 turbo, so not a turbo. Okay. Oh,
Jeff Sterns 1:52:54
that's so Carrera S. Body. No, not a turbo. Not a turbo press. No. So now we could probably get off the vent conversation. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Okay, so an air cooled Porsche. I can't disagree with you. I can't remember who I talked to in the last few days, he gave the same answer that it would probably be an 80s. Targa air cooled,
or singer Porsche. You know, the singer, the singer, Porsche. If money's no object?
Jeff Sterns 1:53:24
Yeah, but that's we're not on money. No object. That's triple income. But let's say you dropped you got a million dollars dropped down? Yeah.
Yeah. And I got to spend it on a car.
Jeff Sterns 1:53:32
No, no, you got to have a retirement and you got you can also get a car you can do? Yes. You know, all of a sudden, your bank account goes up another mill you you buy a stock, you know, goes up a mill like, Yeah, what would you do? Yeah, if I had any of it in a car, or all of it an IRA?
Oh, I think that that is part of the retirement plan, though. If you do it right. And you get the right 911 or the right car doesn't have to be a 911. But as you get the right car, this properly maintained and you maintain it properly. It's a it's going to cost you less than a minivan. You know, in terms of you know, depreciation is going to probably appreciate not the reason to buy it being alone that on that hope. But, you know, I'm getting to be 60 the last 20 years of my driving, do I want them to be something pretty cool? Sure. But now, I've also had 20 years of doing that, too.
Jeff Sterns 1:54:33
So you get a million bucks. For would you get Stinger Porsche?
Probably probably, you know, it's if you know, the problem is is that now you're getting into $350,000 $400,000 for a 911 I might actually take a nine nine and earlier 993 and make my own version of a singer kind of do that without having to be a carbon fiber because they do so much carbon fiber work and drives the price up so much don't necessarily need that. You know getting a modern like a four get a four they build four liter motors was much more like 380 horsepower 40 or motors. Build one like that for leader 380 horse put it in a 993 that's not like oh my gosh you just ruined a $300,000 or $200,000 993 by modifying it I'm not gonna get that car
Jeff Sterns 1:55:33
just make it nice modern brakes modern all you know air conditioning and a modern engine and enjoy the sounds and the drives. What's your favorite I mean that's gonna you work in amuse you're spending time in a museum doing some work and I don't know if I want to say your favorite car but I had to say your favorite collectible and you know, maybe, you know concor car maybe muscle car and he come to mind easily. You don't have to kill yourself. If not,
ya know that. The as far as a car to drive the most
Jeff Sterns 1:56:07
not necessarily drive.
Well, from a driving from a driver's perspective. For me, the most rewarding car I've ever driven is the Carrera GT, the Porsche Carrera GT, and an F 40. Or an Enzo or none of these other cars. I've never driven a McLaren f1 Mm hmm. So I don't I don't know about that. But I think a Carrera GT just might be that, that that car that he looked no expense spared. I just want whatever I want. I want the best driving experience. I can get the sound and driving of that car. There's nothing like that. On the road. I think the streetcar outside of that, you know, one of the one of the most interesting cars, I think, you know, over the last 100 years is the the cord 812 a cord. Okay, cord 812 beverlee. supercharged
Jeff Sterns 1:57:04
strap was the fastest car in its day, right?
Correct. Yeah, yep. Yep. supercharged straight A Art Deco, rolling art. pneumatic shifter. So the shifter is, you know, pre select shift. You know, there's no, there's no big clunky shifter, you have a little toggle switch. That's your four speed shifter, all vacuum control, just the technology, and the style and on the look.
Jeff Sterns 1:57:31
Yeah. The speed and the style. Amazing. Just amazing.
You know, for its for its date for a car, and you can say, hey, let's let's drive. You know, let's drive to the beach today. Let's drive to Orlando today. Let's take the cord. 812.
Jeff Sterns 1:57:47
Perfect. And finally, and we can have another one when you come up with your list of Top 10 crazy customer stories. Your legacy. What would you want to leave behind for your own family for strangers? related to the car business related to your what you've learned?
that's a that's a that's almost a
Jeff Sterns 1:58:12
segment that itself? Episode Three,
Episode Three, it but to try and boil that down? I think the question is, end of your life, you're looking back at your life? What do you want that to look like? Is it all the stuff that you accumulated? All the money you have in the bank? Or is it all of the people that you that you enjoy time with? and and the the conversations and the relationships and the love that you shared with people and your family and the time that you spent? Did you make it quality time?
Jeff Sterns 1:58:53
So what do you want them to say at your funeral?
He did that he you know that? That he did that? He He did everything possible? To make sure that his family and him they all had quality time together?
Jeff Sterns 1:59:07
Well, Alan, you're a legend. When you agreed to talk to me here and record this. I was and am really honored. I appreciate it. I think it was a great conversation. I am sure there's a clearing for more conversations. Yeah, based on the places we didn't go for the next five hours.
Well, thank you Jeff, though. I appreciate you saying that I'm I'm not a legend. The nice of you to say that it. I am a car guy like so many others.
Jeff Sterns 1:59:43
This has been Jeff Sterns connected through cars
Honda, Mercedes, Audi, Peugeot, Ferrari salesman. duPont Registry, Boulevard Customs, Tampa Bay Car Museum
After graduating from Northrop High School in 1979, a brief but intense relationship with the US Navy provided much needed maturity and focus. College and banking courses targeting finance and business law would prove to be invaluable in future management roles. 10 years of restaurant management and operations experience were followed by 10 years of automotive sales experience, the last 8 years of which were at Crown Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar and Ferrari as a certified brand specialist in all of our authorized marques. In this very competitive environment I was honored to achieve salesperson of the year 3 of the last 5 years and salesperson of the month 42 times in the last 5 years of my adventure. Between service, F&I and sales management, we had a powerful team that made this possible.
The last 10 years has been the most professionally rewarding in my relationship with duPont Publishing. Beginning in 2000 my primary responsibility was to provide needs-based solutions to luxury and exotic automobile dealers worldwide who were looking to grow their businesses through creative and aggressive print, web and event marketing. In 2005, Boulevard Customs, a local customizer, was acquired by a group of our executives and I assumed the day to day operations, marketing and management responsibilities. Upon completion of the facility buildout, the process to implement and train cost controls systems, PC hardware/software, outlook email, website, CSM, inventory management, e-commerce, web/print/event marketing and execution occurred over the next 2 1/2 years.
At this point I transitioned to the role of Editor-in-Chief of duPont REGISTRY, A Buyer's Gallery of Fine Boats with lessening involvement in the day to day activities at Blvd Customs.