A dream car life??
06:48 Ehren did some work with TV show TOP GEAR
07:23 Ehren co-founds Devin Works watch company.
07:50 got recruited by Karma automotive
09:02 Ehren: "I popped out of the womb loving cars"
09:42 Ehren: "I remember actually calling the manufacturers and asking for brochures. So as a teenager, I was getting these brochures from like Mercedes Benz Rolls Royce Porsche, countless others, and that if I'm honest, that was kind of the spark that set the fire. They got me in the car business because when I realized when I got these brochures, they were first of all They were happy to send me these brochures. So they like that was so refreshing, I thought that they would just completely hang up on me. But then to get the brochure and unwrap it and take it out of the envelope and see that it was it came with a letter that was signed, albeit a rubber stamp signature by the president of Rolls Royce, North America, or the Vice President of Marketing for BMW, North America, just knock my socks off." (this became Ehren's contact list when he bagan searching for a job in the wholesale new car business!)
13:46 Ehren sent probably 100 letters out for that.
16:13 went at night to Fordham University in New York City, to get his MBA, with a specialization in marketing. (after work while at Jaguar)
18:03 Jeff shows the award his father David Sterns received for promoting the album MEET THE BEATLES
18:54 why Jeff's Dad got into the car business
20:17 Jeff's Dad dealt in many interesting cars
23:12 Jeff started selling cars after school- in high school.
23:29 Ehren's parents force college
24:24 Ehren: "The car business is something that is very difficult to get into and very difficult to get out of"
26:05 Ehren joins Ferrari and for the first time is exposed to the ultra rich
26:31 the difference between Ferrari customers and Lamborghini customers
27:18 THE FERRARI TRUST FUND
31:54 Jeff mentions Victor Muller CEO of Spyker and the similarity between the Lamborghini and Spyker owner is.
36:20 Enterprise Rental Car hiring and training
36:58 The best hiring recruiter story
38:42 taking part in the Ferrari challenge series. traveling to Road America, or, you know, homestead or wherever, to Lime Rock etc
40:23 When Ferrari Challenge car owners get stuck in a Miami elevator...
41:51 Ehren's exposure to the good and bad in the wealthy class
43:01 a Ferrari Challenge driver joined the series to recruit into his Ponzi investment
43:28 Jeff on what happens to people when they have wealth 47:49 Jeff had someone try to leverage him financially due to his need to take care of his son's special needs medical issues
49:27 Ehren plugs his current employer, Ally Financial
52:24 Ehren talks about the TOP GEAR USA project
54:29 how Donald Trump was involved in the TOP GEAR project
59:02 What is a press car?
1:01:02 Ehren talks about being gay in the car business
1:04:06 Business has taken Ehren all over the United States and also the world
1:04:50 Jeff: "I've always said That what kids should do when they get out of school is travel. and sell cars retail for one year."
1:05:14 what 3 people would Ehren have to dinner?
Ehren Bragg - FULL - v1
Mon, 3/29 10:26AM • 1:07:30
lamborghini, car, people, ferrari, business, customers, buy, dealer, jaguar, called, sell, bentley, retail, job, aaron, ford motor company, co executive producer, interesting, money, jeff
yep Sterns connected through cars and today i have Ehren Bregg i met aaron when i was applying for the lamborghini franchise many years ago we didn't lose touch he was with jaguar he was with ferrari he was of course with lamborghini and others he's got a very interesting story he's got a little bit of a television background that you might want to hear about take a look enjoy and make sure to comment at the end and hit subscribe although i did consult with top gear i popped out of the womb basically loving cars and ferrari was my first exposure to the ultra rich it's very interesting the difference between ferrari customers and lamborghini customers and these guys you know they would spend 10s of 1000s of dollars every weekend if this elevator starts moving these people are going to be cut in half and he had joined the the challenge series but so he could basically drag other challenge drivers into a ponzi scheme you mentioned top gear there was the original pilot for the us version of the show and we had these folks come on trump's helicopter is there any way you can get yourself to manhattan by tomorrow morning at 6:30am with five lamborghinis
Jeff Sterns connected through cars if they're bigwigs we'll have him on the show and yes we'll talk about cars and everything else here he is now Jeff Sterns
i started with jaguar cars right out of college and an entry level position basically as what we tend to call it clerk although it was probably a better title than that worked for them for almost five years went to ferrari north america worked for them for about three years took a little break went to miami moved to miami did a lot of time on the beach and then got a job with lamborghini so i was working directly for lamborghini running sales and marketing for the us market and then came out to the west coast and ran a dealership in beverly hills and that was my first time in retail so i kind of wear that hat for about a year then poked in and out of the car business and the high end watch business for quite some time and now i'm in auto finance
it's a little bit anti climatic i gotta tell you aaron i mean my first retail job is running a dealership in beverly hills yeah and i know now i'm in finance it's gone downhill
i apex nearly no i you know i had a glamorous i had some glamorous jobs in the beginning and after that had some jobs that were really interesting and fun and paid really well but aren't so glamorous
got it so i'm here and i want to definitely go back a little bit like how you ended up in the car business and how you grew up and this sort of thing yeah stories about all of us how cars or a car influenced us but i'm actually intrigued because as you know i'm a retail guy i was in retail for 27 years so i'm little years just trying it out but 27 years in 3d
yes so a little boring and now i've been a vendor so selling chat guest support on dealership websites and consulting to dealerships for the last nine years when i started my retail
career started at george baker's countryside autorama i love it it was a mulch lot
and we used to sit there out front on a lounge chair hence my skin being destroyed and all the special lighting and makeup that you don't need
and we there was a gas station next door and we would just yell to all of our buddies in the little store to come out when a pretty girl was putting gas in her car next door and that was fun and then on to board and then on to lincoln mercury and before cadillac and exotic cars etc but you start at o'gara
in retail i did yeah so how did that happen
you know i was i was working for lamborghini by that time it was two or three years and we went to italy that so there was a dealer in beverly hills that had a checkered past and a checkered present and we were looking to make a change and so through my colleagues at bentley we became aware of tom agoura who is the bentley rolls principally bentley rolls dealer in beverly hills largest rolls dealer in the world largest bentley dealer in the country
i approached him
At one point and he expressed interest and he started to he started a buy sell with the retailer we had in Beverly Hills, it just to for the person listening that's not in the car business. This is you as a manufacturer Lamborghini having an issue with one of your franchise dealers. Correct. Okay, it happens all the time happens all the time. It's very common practice. So, you know, there's, there's when when you fall in love with a dealer, there's a few different ways to, to kind of end the relationship and one is to get somebody else to to perform it by itself. And so kind of courted Tom O'Gara, D got in the process of doing a buy, sell. And I invited him to a dealer meeting in Italy, just to get them, you know, started and get his feet wet and in the business. So at dinner one night, we were I remember, we were in this amazing restaurant in the basement of this place in Modena. And he was sitting next to me and he said, Hey, so what's your plan? What's like, what's your, you know, what your goals for the future? And I said, Well, I, I'm really happy doing what I'm doing. You know, I kind of have a dream job. And I'd like to keep this rolling for a while, and then ultimately down the road, I'd like to maybe jump over to your site. And he say, Well, you know, when you're ready, you let me know. And so it wasn't long thereafter that I started to kind of explore the possibility with him. And that's how it all started. Well, that actually says a lot. Because if you have a man like that with a retail background with a number one in the nation in certain makes
talking to you, and assessing you and softly recruiting you. That means he really saw something in you. Yeah. So good, Joe. Thanks. Yeah, it worked out. It was a really interesting experience. I like to think that we did a great job of building that business. And then then I left the car business I was I was kind of like, in and out of doing, I did some real estate investment. I totally went off a map of cars. Although I did consult with top gear with the the TV show top here, which was a lot of fun. I got to work with Andy, Andy, what's his name any Williams, who's the
CO creator and executive producer of UK series. So that was fun. I also co founded a watch company with Scott Devin called Devin works, we produced a watch called the tread one, which is completely groundbreaking when we when we launched it in 2009.
So that was that was interesting. Then I went, I actually started my own business as a watch distributor, I was importing watches from Switzerland and selling them to retailers and customers here in the US. And then I got kind of sucked back into the car business and got recruited by karma automotive to help them with their wholesale retail operations.
Interesting that karma, and not a knock on your background, but you weren't in retail very long. Correct. And so I joined karma as a consultant first. And it was for sales and marketing for all kinds of sales and marketing initiatives. And then it was decided that we would do our own flagship car dealership, in Newport Beach, California. And so kind of by default, I was the one that was put up for that job, because I was the one that had the most experience with retail, and where the, you know, where the rubber meets the road.
Got it. So very interesting. So I'm a little resentful. Let's just let the record state. How's that? Well, that I mean, look at these beautiful gigs, and you didn't have your chops, you know?
Yeah, I know, I get away with fire. Jeff at home, if I'm honest, a lot of it was trial by fire.
So let's back up a little more. How did you grow up? How did you grow up? Did you grow up in a destined for Lamborghini family? I don't know about that. But I can tell you this, I popped out of the womb basically loving cars. I was like as I go, and I love cars. And so I can remember from a kid just being completely enthralled by them. I didn't come from my family. My family really were not car people. They saw them as an appliance. And as a convenience, you know, as like, my dad was kind of a Corvette guy. But nobody was an exotic car person. I grew up very modestly. So. I mean, I remember being a teenager and having these debates with my friends about you know, what was better Ferrari or Porsche. And then I remember actually
calling the manufacturers and asking for brochures. So as a teenager, I was getting these brochures from like Mercedes Benz Rolls Royce Porsche, countless others, and that
if I'm honest, that was kind of the spark that set the fire. They got me in the car business because when I realized when I got these brochures, they were first of all
They were happy to send me these brochures. So they like that was so refreshing, I thought that they would just completely hang up on me. But then to get the brochure and unwrap it and take it out of the envelope and see that it was it came with a letter that was signed, albeit a rubber stamp signature by the president of Rolls Royce, North America, or the Vice President of Marketing for BMW, North America, just knock my socks off. And so it kind of like started these wheels spinning in my head. And I went to college, and I didn't really know what I should study to get into the car business. But I knew that people that were in the marketing specialization in the business department were really fun to parties. And so I decided, like, that would be what I would, that would be what I would pursue. And so I did and, and we had so much fun in class. And by that my third year, this, this idea that I want to, I wanted to work in the business of cars, just completely, like galvanized. And so I did my old trick over again. And that that fall, I sent, I think I called each of the retailer of the of the manufacturers, who had offices around my home in New Jersey, so somewhere in North Jersey, and somewhere like in the Baltimore area of Philadelphia area. And so I sent the BMW and Mercedes and Volvo and Land Rover and others, and I got the brochures. But I also got the contact information for either the VP of Marketing, or the president or the the, and then I would call them. So suddenly, now I have all of their contact information, I would call and I would get the contact for the head of HR. And then I had this, this whole lists this whole, I categorized all of these different, you know, resumes that was gonna send and so my goal at that point, was just completely myopic. I wanted to have an internship at a manufacturer, a car manufacturer. And so I sent to all these people, I said to the presidents of each of these VP of marketing of each, and the head of human resources of each with an envelope that was labeled personal and confidential. And that way I could maybe get past the assistant who would, you know, circular, file it and actually get it to the individual. And so I did that. And I said, I don't know how many, maybe 3035 letters. And I waited with bated breath, you know, for these letters come back. And I mean, I poured it on thick Jeff, I was like, hey, look, I will work for free. I don't you don't have to pay me a thing. I will find out some way to pay for my myself to live. But I need to work for you. I need to like absorb that, you know, atmosphere to complete my education. And Jeff, I didn't get one reply. I if I did get no eyes, they were they were Oh, yeah, they were either no response for thanks anyway. And so completely dejected. I went to work for my uncle and his real estate brokerage in New York City. And I learned a lot from that experience. But come my senior year, I was right back at. And so I got a safety job. Enterprise rent a car was at my college. They were they were recruiting people for management training. And so I went through that process with basically a close a close, you know, pin on my nose, and I got the job. I got an offer for immediately after college. But then I went to work and I hit the grindstone and I sent letters to all of those people all over again, personal confidential. I even pour it on a bunch of gaps. Like I think I started dealership big dealers, like I sent probably 100 letters out for that.
And I got a bunch of nice, thank you, but no thank you responses. But I got one response in the positive, which was from Jaguar Cars. They called me that the HR guy from Jaguar calls me and he says, hey, look, yeah, we got your resume. And we have, you know, we just happen to have this, this open positions, entry level position, and we want to bring you in for an interview and I just, I killed it. I absolutely killed it. And so I got this job. And it was amazing, because I think they had like 30 plus recruits, and most were from colleges right in their area. Ramapo college is right around the corner from jag where you can throw a stone but I got the job and so I went to work for them and I I just put every ounce of my being into it, and they put me into a management program. So they moved me around all these different areas of the company to get me groomed for I was for a field position eventually for a field position. And
and so I worked for them for four or five years. I learned a ton from it. I you know, Jaguar was really interested in developing you as a as a holistic person. And so you know, they offered me
The Dale Carnegie trading and all this other great training, I want to Detroit learn from these really like salty dogs from Ford Motor Company, they've been in the field forever, all of the tricks of the trade, you know, stuff that you would coming into the business you would never guess like, stuff. Like they were talking about, you know, when the new Mustang comes out, what we do is we buy Camaros right? We buy them this year, like they're a year old. And you put that thing right up front on a rack and spin it around if you have to, and the subliminal message there is you have gotten this car and trade on the Mustang.
You know, so I mean, you I'm telling not telling you any news, you know, all this stuff. Stuff. I would never have thought, you know, I would never would have anticipated well, but I think this is very interesting for our viewer or listening. Yeah, listener is we don't know that who's listening is in the business. Yeah, yeah, just very annoying stuff. subliminal, you know, type of broadcasting customers, understanding how dealerships work, all that kind of stuff. And so I also went, I started going for my master's degree. And so I went at night to Fordham University in New York City, to get my, my MBA, with a specialization in marketing. And that was like, probably the roughest few years of my life, because I was working this job that kept me to work until seven o'clock at night.
And then I'd have to go to school. You know, I think school I had to leave early to go to school school probably started around 435 o'clock. got done at eight, I would go back to the office, you know, I'd be back at the office. Not only reading my assignments at the same time, but also like, you know, doing my spreadsheets. I was in remarketing of time for Jaguar. And it was a lot it was it was exhausting. So this was draining training you for a short dealership week.
That's right. Yeah.
Yeah. I mean, you spent a lot of time on the dealership side of the business. How many? What was your average week work week? Like?
I would say for many years.
You saw those people more than you saw your own family? Oh, of course saw those people more than you saw. It was like, it was like working in a firehouse. I mean, you're just living with the people
you're living with all the time. But remember when I got into it, I mean, I lot of people as you know now because you were in it, get into it by accident. It wasn't their aspiration. It was your aspiration. It was my aspiration. It was my my father was an independent dealer in Detroit. How many cars a month? This was a different time might. So my dad let's back up. Like my dad was a record promoter, too. Right. Okay, putting this on the screen. So this is
this is meet the Beatles.
You got an award for doing a decent job bringing in this record called meet the Beatles.
And, and he his stories were that he didn't think they were that good. The Beatles. Yeah. He said that when he was when he was seeing other auditions. You know, it's that he said that? Yeah.
But he was a salesman. So what his and he was, you know, he wasn't United States. He was Midwest. So, I mean, what the job was then was getting it on radio station play and getting it on display at a record store or shelf space or that that sort of thing. Probably like someone trying to get their olive oil on a better shelf at a grocery store. Yeah. So he got his award for meet the Beatles. But while my mother was pregnant with me, a buddy of his rolled up in a new Eldorado convertible. And my dad,
please. Wait, what year was this? When I when my mom was pregnant with me? Oh, no. Before 65 Yeah, yeah, easy, easy. There
was a you know, early 20s. It was a model. So
when he was in 65 ish, Eldorado convertible. My dad says, My gosh, what a car. What are you doing for a living? The guy says I opened a car a lot.
So my dad quits Capitol Records. Yeah, and opens a car a lot. But his inventory at the time, all in all in
this was the Corvair trade in the valiant trade in
the big I mean used cars you Buy Wholesale for 50 to two 300 bucks a copy.
Yeah, and he's he's buying dealerships cast offs or okay. He's buying from dealers. He's buying dealer trade ins. Yeah. And it's funny because he got very well known he got heavy into the collector stuff but it was a different world. There was no value. I mean, he had the he had the car from the Bonnie and Clyde movie the car from Superfly he had 38 Oakland's 40, a Bentley, he had all the time. Matter of fact, the fellow. The fellow whose signature is on this oil painting is Pasadena, Steve has dinner
with Steve Stayner. The story behind this painting was he went by my dad's lot
and said, Can I paint
And my dad says, knock yourself out for a belly.
He sets up an easel and
starts painting and when he's done, he gives it to my dad. He was a General Motors design student, but Christina is the one who made the Buick Black Hawk concept that sold a big money at Barrett Jackson. It was on the cover of auto weekend was the number one selling auto week in history when this car was on the cover. But do you remember the 1953 Corvette body that went on the new Corvettes about 10 years ago?
Yeah, yeah, that's that's his That's him. Really. He'll be on the show.
Very interesting. That's how, you know I know the guy who the guy that owns that car. The first the very first Corvette is Frank kerbeck. The kerbeck brothers. Well, they have early Corvettes. Yeah, yeah. And I've seen I've been in that car. It's amazing. Real the first 53 vet? Yeah, I'm talking about re bodying. Yeah, previous gen. Okay, huh. Yeah. Anyway, as I get off on my tangent, but it was it was fun for me because my dad would like lend cars to the city Detroit for Fourth of July parade. Yeah, my brother and I could ride in a rumble seat of a model a and the Fourth of July parade. So I was just in into the car aspect. So my dad's guilt trip I wish he was alive. My dad's guilt trip is that he was restoring model A's.
There's a local felony Model A George they could had all the mohair had the right paint knew the spark knew everything about model A's. Yeah. And my dad was made was selling them restored for 12 $195.
guilty because he was making 400 bucks a copy. And he never made that much on a car.
So a little bit of a different world. He sold that lot in 78.
and wanted to ensure that my little brother and I would become real citizens, like veterinarians or CPAs. Not car guys. Yeah, right. Cuz he was dealing with all the used car managers in the 60s and 70s, which was
not the greatest element in the world. So he loved people love cars, didn't love car people. But I grew up.
I wanted to go into it. Yeah, it was intentional. So I started selling. After my, after second period of my senior year in high school.
Everyone else was going to Baskin Robbins, and I was selling cars. Were you really? And that screwed up my college? Lucky for you, your parents forced you? Yeah, right. There was no choice.
So you need to go thank them. Yeah. But I was ruined. Once I started making money because I think I was making more than my teachers. By the time I graduated high school. That's what does it for a lot of people is they they make extraordinary money. And a lot of people get into it as like, something between jobs or you know, it just happens to be like you said an after school activity, and then they start making this tremendous amount of money. And then they just it sucks you in.
It does. It's not I say that it's not what you do. It's what you are. It's like a vampire thing.
It's for the fact that you've been able to leave a couple times is amazing. I'm really
I'm always blown away by guys like you that can leave the car business and go do another thing. It ain't easy. It ain't easy. The car business is something that is very difficult to get into and very difficult to get out of and what I'm What I mean is, like more of the wholesale side of the business or manufacturing side of the business, very difficult to get into that, you know, into that kind of like club and very difficult to get out.
You mentioned Frank kerbeck. Yes. I was on a flight with Frank to Spain, to the Bentley Continental. Get the dealer excited to invest in their facility. What's coming up meeting Yeah, years before the car.
came out. And Frank who's the, you know, Frank? Very well. life of the party, right? Like amazing. Always. Yeah. So we're playing and it's all Bentley dealers. And he's like,
who wants to split a full sticker deal on the new as you're
in half the hands go up in the cabin. He says, alright, if you got the customer, I got the car.
For some reason that stuck with me, and somebody tells me the customer is a lot harder to get in the car.
is for sure. And I've been on the selling end of prank kerbeck. And I'll tell you something, man. I mean, he's the nicest guy and most flamboyant and has his gang around them all the time if he's gay, or whatever. But God helped me try to get more than $1.80 for something out of them. He's amazing. You know, he so when I, we've, we kind of left we've popped out of my story of me leaving Jaguar and popping in a Ferrari. And Ferrari was my first exposure to the ultra rich, you know, that, like these people that I'd never ever had exposure to before. And I would say, working at Lamborghini, just because I was my position was more influential. I got a lot more exposure to these same people, although they were slightly different. You know, there's, it's very interesting, the difference between Ferrari customers and Lamborghini customers, Ferrari customers, a lot of times are older money, they're more polished. They
probably are less car people, you know, they're, they're more like, fun experience people. And they have this Ferrari simply because, you know, it's what you do you have, I guess, you know, in their circles a lot of people had a Ferrari is and so they would buy one. And so and then there are others who had these amazing like,
amazing, multimillion dollar, collectible Ferraris, Ferrari's and that was where like, you got into the serious money, and just incredible wealth. But the other side of that, which is interesting is there was a customer in New England, who actually was a school teacher. And he would buy himself every other year, he would buy himself a Ferrari 360 or 430, or four or five, eight or 488, whatever, was current time. And he lived in a really like, I might have been a trailer, he might have lived in a trailer or it was a really small apartment, the dealer, the dealer explained to me one time because he dropped the car off to him. And he explained to me where the guy lived. And the guy had nothing. But he had a Ferrari. And that was his aspiration his entire life.
Well, the interesting thing about eight cylinder Ferraris is when they're new. And sometimes when they're not, you know, they sell for multiples, you know, so you buy at retail, and they might go for twice over retail, they might go for one and a half, they might go for 50 over depends on on how long it's been out and everything like that. So Ferrari dealers are not, they don't cut and well the people who come in and say I want to buy an eight cylinder Ferrari, you know, if they've never seen the person before, they are circumspect. And so let's say Oh, a Yeah, sure, I can say that cylinder Ferrari, that's now 2021, probably 2024, I could probably like around the middle to the end of 2024, I think is your time. And so you could play games in order to shorten that time, and one of the games was buying, you know, when we reintroduced Mazar it to the US market, the one of the games was by Amaz, right. And that'll kick you down the list. Like if there's, if there's 40 people in front of you. Now, there's 30 people in front of you, right. And then the other thing was like you, you buy a 12, cylinder, four seat Ferrari from me, which at the time was the four or five, six, which nobody wanted, you buy one of those, and then you know, that'll get you even closer to the front line. And then, once you kind of like once you worked your way into that rotation, where you were getting a car, and immediately putting your your name on the list for the following car, you were almost in a kind of like Ferrari Trust Fund.
Because let's say you buy the car for 200,000. And it's immediately worth 300,000. And then by the time you sell it, maybe it's you know, a couple years later, you sell it for 250. So you make 50,000 on that car, and then you immediately have this other car, which isn't the same, like you're in the same deep equity situation that you weren't in the first and so that's why we called it kind of the Ferrari Trust Fund because you can always like you were always making actually making money.
From these cars, and so that was what this teacher got it to. He, you know, he got favored by the the Ferrari dealer, and he had been been buying for a while and he was just in this normal rotation was very interesting. So john was like trade with zero. Yeah, yeah. So you said there was a difference between the Ferrari and the Lambo customer and you said Ferrari's more refined older money, less cars? And you didn't say, as opposed to? Do you want to leave that alone? Or do you want to give us some care? Well, I would say the Lamborghini customer and these I'm making sweeping generalizations. So obviously, there's many customers who want both. There's many customers cut from different cloths that on both are one of the other. But I what I'm what I'm doing is I'm kind of like doing the least common denominator, like the people who are the common thread for Lamborghini customers is their newer money.
So they usually haven't, they haven't inherited it, they've probably made it on their own as a as an entrepreneur. And the other cars in the garage might be like Corvettes.
they're not as polished. Let's put it that way. They're more raucous. They're much more in your face. Ferrari customers often are buying cars and reds, the really rich people are buying blues and grays, blacks. For our customer, Lamborghini customers are buying like lime green, you know, metallic orange jello mode, which is that really a beautiful metallic yellow? They're just much more in your face. That's so that's that's how they differ? Well, I think that that's a corporate identity or brand design. I mean, Lamborghini is in and colors are much more or less subtle. Let's just say that. That's right. Yeah, yeah. But looking from the outside in, you might perceive that or you might just think of them as like, you know, slightly different flavors of ice cream, you know, Ferrari and Lamborghini. But they're really like, there's a lot of common customers, but they're really very much of the the customer base for flying Lamborghini are really different.
And for those of you not in the car business, listening or watching
a manufacturer, whether there'll be the brand or there'll be the car line, and it's probably cars, boats, airplane, watches, do come up with a demographic, they do come up with a little bit of a look alike. Audience and Aaron says that, of course there's overlap. And of course, they have one of each, or they could have one of each or whatever. But in general, we can figure out who the buyer is, I remember when spiker came out.
And I was talking to Victor the CEO.
And when, however, he came up with his demographic, he'd came down to that it was the same demo as Lamborghini
in one of those stores paired up with the Lamborghini dealer.
So Aaron isn't trying to offend anybody at all? No, but there really is a bell curve where 80% check off some of these boxes. That's just what it is. Yeah, in fact, I worked. I did. I never worked with Victor. But he asked me for a lot of advice when he was entering the US market. And I was happy to give it because I liked Victor very much, you know, study not like great guy. But yeah, that was your, your 100% spot on about that he was entirely interested in Lamborghini, and kind of like the Burger King approach, you know, putting putting a Burger King next to every McDonald's. That was that was kind of his approach to franchise development for the US market for spiker. He did tell me though, that his car would be the Lamborghini if this biker was in reverse. I'm just saying.
You know, he was also interesting enough, I don't know if many people know this, but he was a very close friends with the guy who was the with the guy who was the head of Bentley at the time. And his name is escaping me right now. us on your or No, your global global German guy, Dr. e?
No, it was he was he was from the group. He was from Volkswagen Group that he got put in charge of Bentley. And he really, he really fell in love with the brand and leaned heavily into the position. And so he and Victor became really good friends. And that was that was Victor's connection to get the 4.2 ba from from Volkswagen. Right.
guess. Yes. I'm trying to reach Victor to see if I can get him on our show. I really liked him a very powerful nice
To talk Yeah, he would have amazing stories to tell. Especially about Saab and GM. Yes. That was Yeah, that's, that'll that'll be for. That'll be for another show. Yeah, yeah. Okay, enough about, I want to ask you, is you mentioned enterprise.
And you strike me and I'm not placating you, not just because you're on here with me. But you strike me as a sharp guy, a Polish guy, obviously have a good education. Your business background is so diverse, says a lot about you. And the thing that says the most about you to me, is that a retail car dealer wanted your right out of the factory when Normally these factory slugs.
Stick is the factory always trying to get the retail dealer trying to do something. And the joke being, but if the factory guy ran the store, how many days would it stay open?
Yeah, while he's insisting that you have tile color number 178. on your floor. Okay. Yeah, that'll be so that's what you've got all my respect, because a retail guy, a very good one. Oh, Garrett, tried to recruit you. But
you mentioned that and it made perfect sense to me. I've never run into a not impressive employee at enterprise.
Yeah, you know, they're, I pick them carefully. They put them through really robust training.
And they they're very particular about how the customer is treated, they have a very narrow window of service level that they they want to provide to their customer.
That's true. I always thought that if I could never go wrong hiring somebody out of enterprise. Yeah, they're just, they're always good. I mean, kinda like I would equate it to like Disney. You know, you don't run into a lot of bad people at a Disney job. Right? Yeah. Yeah. That's right. That's right. So So after Jaguar
went to Ferrari, recruited by Ferrari, I was in the eastern half of the US in Canada. So you were recruited? God forbid, I had to apply for every job I ever had. So
for sure, yeah. It's It's so funny. The guy that recruited me out of Jaguar, he was just calling, you know, these recruiters are amazing. And he was just calling. He knew the exchange for Jaguar was area code 201. And then 818. And every, every phone number began with an eight. So the last three numbers were kind of like, you know, the extension. And so he was just calling random extensions. And I picked up and he said, hey, yeah, I'm looking for a guy there. You know, I've done business with him before. I can't remember his name. But he's young. And he's maybe in his, like, late 20s, early 30s. really sharp, great education, and well spoken. Do you know who I'm talking about? And I
could be half the people here. But you could the guy next to me went to Wharton, the guy you know, the guy around the corner went to MIT. So sure you're talking about? He's like, well, you sound pretty nice. I'm pretty good. Like,
what's your background? And that's how he got his head. So you got to split the door. It's pretty impressive.
Very impressive. Yeah. resourceful. So lucky. So it was the lucky phone answer. Yeah.
Yeah, no, I went to work for them. And I have to tell you, it was enormously educational, not just about cars in the business, but also about life, I got this exposure towards you grew up in a very modest background, I got exposure these for the first time where life to these super rich people, one of the parts of my job that was non negotiable was taking part in the Ferrari challenge series. And so we would travel. In the summer, most of your weekends, you were traveling to Road America, or, you know, homestead or wherever, to Lime Rock to go into, you know, there's a customer racing series called called that for our challenge. And so these customers will buy these cars that were enormously expensive, they're much more expensive than a normal eight cylinder road car. You know, if you've got a 488 that goes for 260 challenge cards, probably 320 minutes, it's no joke. insurance doesn't cover you on the track. So if you have the thing up, then you bought it, you know, you have to you have to fix it. And Ferrari was the parts department would sell a front bumper for at the time was for 360. And it was, you know, $3,000 the same exact, the same exact bumper with a different part number for a Ferrari challenge. Race, you know, race car was like 4000 $5,000 you know, that was unbelievable. And these guys, you know, they would spend 10s of 1000s of dollars every weekend. You know, they had they had these, some of them had these semi tractor trailers that would take the car and their crew and you know, take it wherever we were.
Racing that particular weekend,
enormous wealth. And so I remember we, we were in, we're at homestead, and it was like the end of the season. And Michael Mann was there, Michael Mann was was a friend of Gianluigi boutonnieres, who's the president of Ferrari at the time is racing with us. And we had this dinner at this private gentleman's club, like private club, at the top of the tallest building in Miami downtown. And as we're headed up the elevator, it stopped. The elevator just stopped moving. And so I was in an elevator full of there were probably, I'd say, five drivers for five challenge drivers, and their spouses in this elevator with me. And if you've ever met anybody who drives a Ferrari challenge car, these are not type B personalities, you know, these are not people who will wait for the fire department to come to get them or you know, you know, politely pick up the phone and ask for help and start a conversation. These were these guys just went apeshit. And so like they're prying open the elevator door, you know, they're like, they're praying open the door for the like, I somehow I think we were like this far away from the center of the of the the one of these floors and a praying that door open. And, you know, they're, they're heating themselves on this elevator with their wives. And I'm thinking to myself, if this elevator starts moving, these people are going to be cut in half. You know, like, I the risks they were taking was incredible. And but these are get it done, people get it done, or get it done, people, that's for sure. So that was that was my exposure to that. But I I was exposed not only to really rich people, and you know, these type A entrepreneurs, but you also realize that people are sometimes not so good.
I got my first exposure to that. And some of them are car dealers. Some of them are just really shit people. And there's some really amazing good people in the car business. And it's really hard to tell the difference. And so sometimes you have these people who are like Frank kerbeck, perfect example. He is, he'll give you the shirt off his back. You know, he's just his salt of the earth guy. Amazing. And sometimes it's hard to believe that he's he's really that nice that he's really being genuine. And there's a lot of people in the car business like that he happens to be a pretty genuine guy. But there's a lot who will sell their mother down the road for profit. The moment you turn your back, they will stick a knife in. And so I got that was my first exposure to those people. And the first first example, was actually a challenge driver, young, good looking guy. He was through the series. We're in Italy, we were actually in Italy, for the last race of the season one year, and I come to find out that he's completely in debt. And he had joined the the challenge series, completely The only reason not to enjoy the series or because he had extra money to spend. But so he could basically drag other challenge drivers into a Ponzi scheme Ponzi scheme.
Just access. Yeah.
Wow. Yeah. Incredible. So that was my first exposure to that. And when you say incredibly good people, and I'm a little bit you know, where I skew on the personality profile is I'm hi optimistic. I'm idealistic. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I'm easy to nail I'm easy to loan you money for the 15th time.
I'm an easy mark. I, I fall in love with my client, you know, but
one thing because I like to study people, I'm sure you're the same.
I found that the wealthy
the money only amplified whatever they really are.
Because they get into a little bit of an entourage, entourage atmosphere.
And everybody's saying yes to them. And nobody's saying, you know, Aaron, you're a little bit of a jerk last night. Yeah. They're not getting feedback. They don't have guardrails and honest feedback. Yeah.
Yeah, they're getting feedback, right? Yeah. Yeah, but not honest feedback. So
when they go the wrong way, when their life starts growing the wrong direction, they become like two year olds with tantrums. That's right. or moral problems with morals.
But I get more impressed with the wealthy. That's unbelievably generous, unbelievably charitable. Would you would humble, right? I mean, I've been in
people's houses that have the million dollar chandelier the $10 million piano i know you've been in similar and and when they're only talking about how unfair something is for someone and wanting to do something about it or giving up their seat to whoever and you know no caste system i find them even more impressive
i agree and there's been i know you've met many of those too yeah i have and it's like i said it's really hard to tell the difference a lot of times well kids and they're all salespeople yeah that's right and i put my trust in the wrong people that's you know i don't have any regrets in life because you know every i'm a believer that every you know kind of like up needs down you know you were here to learn so i try not to have any regrets
try not to think about it but there are a couple people who really screwed me over in my life and those people happened to be extremely wealthy people
interesting yeah yeah really sad you know just because it becomes to these people it's like a kind of it's a kind of personality disorder and they just you know that so being car dealer
or or being wealthy you've probably had a lot of success in your life and for some for whatever reason this character trait or this disorder makes them where it's just never enough and so they are all too happy to screw over anybody and they can't to get more and more and more well the disorder there is a thinking that winning means someone else has to lose that's right zero sum game right yeah yeah that is sad and i've also run into plenty of them that seem reptilian in how cold their blood is yeah and and i would say hanging it on the mantle of it's just business yeah that's right right and you developed a relationship with them or i developed a relationship with them that's right and we're about the i'm i'm learning about you i'm assuming making a bet here that you're about the relationship to exactly yeah yeah that's right yeah right and i believe in you and our word and you wouldn't have done it you know etc yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah it's incredible and there's no stop there's no there's no like there's no stops they just have their they have no conscience and so there's no we're like there's no like i'll do this but that'll stop you know stop short and i'll compromise and i'll let them have this it's just i'm taking everything
it's incredible i can't say who but i have i have a special needs son max is 21 years old
and a long time ago when he was young he was getting heavy heavy heavy therapy
and you name it we i mean walk or speak to these five i'm very proud of him you know he does great now but i was in a financial situation where someone leveraged me financially and i couldn't believe it because i thought there was a relationship there yeah and what i finally got was
well because you need this medical
stuff i didn't think that you turn the steering wheel playing chicken
well they were leveraging that i needed this medical oh my god incredible so
yeah that's jeff that's exactly what i'm talking about they just like there's no boundary there's just no boundary it's incredible
yeah sorry that happened to you
well like you said learning deal yeah and i mean like we don't know we're never going to know why everything happens to us
so and thanks for saying that but in the end my kids healthy my family's healthy we're eating i mean like whatever yeah right i mean it's
on this show it's a story now it's just a story it happened 15 years ago yeah i got oh that's right like it happened 15 years ago and i got over it about a year ago so i'm okay no yeah
well thank god you're not carrying that around anymore it's a
little plug for my current employer jeff so i currently work for ally financial which is as you know a huge auto finance company they're probably one of the biggest auto finance companies in the country and it's so refreshing to work for a company that is just obsessed with doing it right for their customers and their employees and when there's ever a question of
whether or not they were right or somebody else's right or you know if there's any kind of gray area they always do it right they always like make sure that
They err on the side of them being, you know, them being on the wrong side of it. And it's it's refreshing. So it's it's kind of nice. You know, you get the sometimes you you have to experience the bad things appreciate the good things. Well, there is no light without dark and there's no hot without cold. So I mean, you're right.
You go. You're exactly right. And to hear you say that I'm happy that I work with ally because there's this culture
of right. That's, to me very positive. It must really be empowering, because you're not working around the culture to go be the kind of guy that you want to be anyway. Yeah. Yeah. So it fits so it fits you. And if I if I recall ally used to be GM AC General Motors acceptance Corp, you're 100%. Right. Okay. And is ally, still a part of GM? Or are they separate? Okay, not at all. In fact, they were spun off in 2008. When if you remember this, the CEO of GM took his private plane to to the congressional hearing, and then he got his clock cleaned, and they had to spin off GM financial. And so they did that and GM financial turned into ally, ally financial went public in 2011, I think, and has since been a public company. It's got about $186 billion in assets. That's it now a consumer bank. And they do we do mortgages, investments, consumer lending, direct lending, most of the businesses is indirect through through a dealership network.
Any good stories in that business?
I wish Jeff but it's banking.
All right, we got some car stories, but the real stuffs in the banking now. Okay.
I mean, you could tell me about a deal you made. And then a guy's bank balance got below 1500. And I watched and for three minutes, I charged him the $35
know what hit him. We are all high fiving each other in the lobby? Nothing I could possibly tell you.
Let's back up again. If you don't mind, you mentioned and I can't let go of it. You mentioned Top Gear.
Yeah, I think it would be highly interesting. If there's anything you could talk about related to that project. That was super fun. I could talk about that. So it was the original pilot for the US version of the show. Jeremy Clarkson came over and he was giving us you know, some, like, some input into how to select because, you know, if you're a fan of Top Gear, then you know that the secret sauce is the three personalities that are involved in the ship three hosts Yeah. Jeremy Clarkson. Yeah. And it's, it's trying to replicate these individual personalities, but also how they relate to each other. And so because they have this content, Icarus, you know, rotten rivalry going on with each other about who's the best and, you know, they're constantly doing this competitions where they ping each other, you know, they hit one against the other. And so we we that we had the hardest time trying to find these people that kind of had that sort of secret sauce. And so you you couldn't replicate an exactly you had to you had to find some other personality traits that were Oh, you know, they were they lined up not perfectly with those three on the main top your show, but at least their interaction had that same kind of like, that same kind of static, and yet the static that was kind of on over a underbelly of like actually respecting and liking each other. And so it was really hard to define that. In the end, we came up with Adam Carolla. 10 are fast, and another guy whose name escapes me, but it was interesting. We filmed the pilot was actually for NBC. It was it was slated for NBC, NBC bought the pilot. And we filmed the first episode, it was super fun. We dropped in our aerial Adam out of a C 130. Airplane over the Arizona desert, and we had the steak there too, to drive the car through the desert. Once it landed. It was really it was really a fun. It was a fun gig.
How did you get involved in that? How did did you catch the lucky phone and some recruiter was like, Listen, dude, I'm looking for this guy who can help find talent? Ah, well, once again, I backed myself into that kind of by accident. So
you've heard of Donald Trump, right?
heard of him. Okay. So he's your neighbor. He's in a smaller house up the street. Yeah.
Donald Trump had a TV show called The Apprentice and the apprentice got really big in the arts. You know, it was like 2002 2003, I think was the first season
and so i got the job with lamborghini and i always loved the apprentice i thought it was the i thought it was the best i love the show so after season i think was after season one i called our pr company in la and i said hey look we have got to get on the apprentice like it's perfect you know i grew up in i grew up in southern new jersey the trashy part near atlantic city and so you know he donald trump had a number of hotels and casinos in that area and a number of my family members worked for him and i knew he was a lamborghini fan because i knew he had a lamborghini we had seen it and so i told the pr company that and so they went they went and they talked to the show producers and the show producers were like you know yeah we could probably do something and so we ended up putting together a segment where there are these two teams that are pitted against each other and so one one of them obviously is the winner and they get some kind of reward so the reward was we had we brought out three lamborghinis to pocono raceway and i flew out our test driver from italy valentino balboni and we had these folks come on trump's helicopter and they they landed right i could show you some pictures of the land the helicopter right on the street at pocono raceway and then here we have lamborghinis they come over they walk around with me and mount valentino and then they get hot laps around pocono raceway with valentino balboni and then they go back on the helicopter and they're flown back over to the trump tower in new york so that particular day the producer with the executive pretty co executive producer and i became friends we just kind of hit it off so we i went i went back with them to trump tower he gave me a tour around trump tower so you know trump's apartment i saw the board room where they do the show i sold trump's private garage with a turntable in it and then we go back up to the control room and they're doing they're doing like this this this firing segment and then afterwards trump walks into the control room and so this executive co executive producer who i became friendly with said hey trump donald this is this is aaron he's he works for lamborghini and so he's oh nice to meet you and he turns away and then he he turned back he's uh you know i used to have the lamborghini actually and we got into a conversation about it and so we we we talked for probably 510 minutes about it that night the co executive producer and i went out to dinner we became friends and then two years later i was out in los angeles visiting tom o'gara that was my first visit out to tom o'gara and i got a phone call from this co executive producer and he said hey you know he had he had tried to get us back on the apprentice after that and it was always a big number he was always like i look for a million dollars i can deliver you an hour long segment that's all about lamborghini and you know i was like $1.2 million and i said there's no way we don't have the budget for that that's like you know the car business it's it we of course we get a lot of revenue from selling all these really expensive cars but we also have a lot of expenses you know budget for that it's not a high volume car anyway yeah so we stay in touch and then one day when i'm out visiting tama gear i get this phone call it's from it's from my friend who's a co op it's at the apprentice and he said hey man i'm in a real jam you know there's there's this norwegian cruise lines was meant to be our next big episode was all about norwegian and the ship that was coming in to new york harbor got hit by a rogue wave out in the ocean and they had to they had to go to north carolina for emergency repairs i've got nothing
is there any way you can get yourself to manhattan by tomorrow morning at 6:30am with five lamborghinis and i was like
do it i'll figure something out and so i hung up the phone with mike i got myself a red eye flight got my press cars out of i think one was in boston one was in somewhere else got him on a truck immediately going to new york i borrowed cars from other dealers in new jersey in new york aaron says morning for those of us not in the car business just quickly what's a press car press car is a car is a brand new car pulled off the line that we use for press you know
press car is a bit of a misnomer yes it's for the press the car and driver road and track you know motor week they all use these press cars but they're also used for promotional purposes and so we use them for about 6000 miles and then we put them into we take them out of the fleet it could also be where the manufacturer sponsors an event for customers to come out to some raceway and with a professional driver and learn some things about a more training for a dealer about new features on it with the sales people driving them or the road track prep alright so yeah continue on with your story yeah
Yeah, so so I got to New York next morning splashed some water in my face. And by 630, or seven o'clock in the morning, I was on set. And it was me Donald's at the time was George and I can't remember her name, she would make prints like Princess Diana. We're in this in the penthouse of this new Trump property in central Manhattan. And we were in this room, which was a kind of a library, waiting to go on set, we're waiting for our call to go on set for this for this segment to be filmed. And so it was an entire episode about Lamborghini for free.
That was how that happened. And you saved the company 1.2 million, and your bonus was probably a 1% of that.
So the CO EP of that show was hired on as the EP executive producer of Top Gear. That's how that'll
what something about you that you wish people understood.
So I'm gay, I had a lot of trouble in the car business because the car business by the way, I knew you were too freakin good looking, let's just be in
the car business is is is kind of a little bit socially backwards. And so it's always been in the early days, it was a secret. And that secret came out when I worked at Ferrari, I wish people in the car business would understand a little bit better about people that aren't exactly like them. I wish they were a little more understanding.
You know, that's I'm
in I don't want to water down your answer at all.
That's what you know, I asked you what do you wish someone knew? Yeah. But do you think that that that the car business has a corner on that market?
I mean, I mean, I know like you're out in LA. I mean, I know a lot of people in the entertainment industry just from being in the exotic car business. And yeah, there's a lot of people that can't come out in Hollywood.
I don't know, I've never had that experience, because I know a lot of people that work in entertainment. And I don't know that I know many people, if any that are in the closet and entertainment business. But in the car business, I know tons. My favorite manager and who was our f&i manager at my first store, it was by my first career store is Lincoln mercury store.
650 new and used a month and 200 repair orders a day. I mean, it was well, quite the machine. Yeah. But my and I was 22 when I started there. And might, my favorite manager was my unclouded f&i manager. And I you know, maybe that's what I mean, not that I cared anyway, I mean, to me, the stick whether someone's gay or black, or male versus female, or anything, the stick between some someone that's different than you that you can give someone is where all the fun is, anyway. Yeah. So I mean, like, I would never judge you, for example, for your crimes against God in nature. So when I worked at Jaguar, Alan Gilmore was the vice chairman of the Ford Motor Company. And I used to get people at Ford Motor Company, their jaguars, I was in charge of like, you know, the ordering vehicles from the factory and getting them fulfilled for VIPs. You know, celebrities and for ford motor company executives. So I was getting a car for Alan Gilmore. And the lady that worked next to me, said, you know, he's, he's gay. She didn't know I was gay. And and she brought it up. She said, No, he's gay. And I said, Oh,
I pause for a second. I was like, Well, I guess that there's not much of a glass ceiling then at Ford Motor Company. And she said, Well, he's not the chairman. So maybe there is a glass ceiling. What about places you've been? At? Because you've been with some interesting brands that would have you at some interesting venues? Yeah. So I've been to most of the US states, I've traveled extensively in Europe, when I was working for Lamborghini, I would actually spend as much as two or three months a year in Italy. Yeah, because I worked directly for the factory. I didn't work there was no us boss for me. You know, I was my boss was in was in the factory and syntagma bowling is it. So I was going there quite often. And then the watch business took me to the Far East, which I'd never been to before. And it was fascinating. So that was Taiwan, Tokyo, Singapore. And that's about it in Asia, but really fascinating that and I truly believe that one of the greatest educators in the world is travel. You know, I I'm big advocate for taking your kids as many places as you can.
I've always said
That what kids should do when they get out of school is travel. Yep. and sell cars retail for one year.
To learn about people you disagree,
you know, it's it's a great edifier my fear would be that they would be sucked into something that they wouldn't love. Because like we said before the the car business can be like a black hole. And so when you spend just a few months doing it even for a summer and you want to be a doctor, and then all of a sudden you're like, eight more years of school or making 10 grand a month, you know, for
as a as a 24 year old, I'll probably stick with the 10 grand a month, so that would be my only fear.
Got it? Well, you know, it is edifying. I used to introduce myself at parties that I did hip transplants.
I would transplant money from your hip to my hip.
That's a good one. Three people to dinner, Jesus Christ,
I would I would love to get into that guy's head. I would love to understand what goes through that guy's head.
Imagine Jesus Christ and Boris Yeltsin at dinner at the same table.
One of them would catch on fire.
You answered that so well, that I want the audience to know I did not feed you that question before. This conversation was not teed up.
Here, Aaron. You've been very generous and forthright and I'm honestly honored that you went as deep as you went. And as transparent as you went or genuine with some of your answers like it it. It made me feel honored. Well, I am honored that you asked and that you listened, and it should be a huge compliment to you as an interviewer that you were able to to have me be as candid as I was.
This has been Jeff Sterns connected through cars.
TOP GEAR USA
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An executive experienced in marketing luxury consumer products in global markets. I pride myself in being an inspiring leader with exceptional managerial, team building and communication skills who engenders confidence and loyalty with employees and customers, enhancing brand image and culture. An excellent communicator and strong initiator, experienced in creating and maintaining competitive advantage, seizing windows of opportunity, developing success strategies and overseeing execution and business development initiatives. Successful in driving aggressive growth and bottom-line profitability. Proven success in leading change and results delivery.
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