Volkswagen and BMW were bidding for Rolls-Royce and Bentley. VW had just "won" bought Rolls-Royce and Bentley from Vickers for $780m....oops!... all but the Flying Lady and Rolls-Royce Grille trademarks! BMW came in behind and bought those trademarks...
2:26 The Phantom mock up car in a secret room in an industrial warehouse with a sheer cover being raised to opera music... a client cried one time! Client got to sit and speak to the car's designer, Marek Djordjevic.
5:17 sometimes to meet a client's time schedule on an ordered car, Rolls-Royce would fly the car from England to USA.
5:48 Rolls use Amex Black Card staff to assist Rolls-Royce owners who pushed the car's "assist" button. This could help with hard to get tickets or restaurant reservations!
6:49 one of Jeff's Rolls clients planned to don a waiter's outfit to get into a white-tie event that was out of space!
9:00 George shares a little known complex legal story between Rolls and Bentley.
9:41 Volkswagen paid $790,000,000 for R-R and Bentley and $50,000,000 for Bugatti and didn't obtain the Rolls-Royce trademark Flying Lady and Grille.
10:41 BMW owned a portion of Rolls Royce PLC. Rolls Royce PLC is the aero engine company. At the same time, it was part of the agreement with Vickers and Rolls Royce PLC, who control the name Rolls Royce. That in their contract with Vickers, it said that they ever wanted to sell Rolls Royce Motor Car Company, that they had to sell it back to the company Rolls Royce PLC, who licensed the name to them. So that's in essence, two most significant things that almost required Rolls Royce PLC, to sell it to BMW.
12:09 BMW had an agreement to supply the engines to Volkswagen for Crewe built cars,
12:28 They knew that if we (BMW) didn't agree to the deal, that they couldn't build cars.
13:17 culturally, when something like this happens in a German company, the first thing they do is decide who's going to get the finger pointed at them.
Volkswagen and BMW were bidding for Rolls-Royce and Bentley. VW had just "won" bought Rolls-Royce and Bentley from Vickers for $780m....oops!... all but the Flying Lady and Rolls-Royce Grille trademarks! BMW came in behind and bought those trademarks from R-R Aero (Jet engines) for $66m. So VW owned the name and BMW supplied engines....BMW had yet to be able to use the name...how did Rolls-Royce build an order bank of new Phantoms for production? George Walish, General Manager of R-R North America tells the shocking story! (includes secret warehouses and mock up cars)
Also in this episode, George's interest in cars and the business through a neighbor in Penn who managed a Cadillac dealership, his (doing) time at Chrysler, his step off the path with IBM- George as a senior executive at BMW on the intro of Infiniti and Lexus into the USA and the underestimation of them, the creation of the ad tagline THE ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE, the (non) brand awareness of BMW In USA, his getting tapped to head up Rolls-Royce...
3:34 Jeff's relationship with George started when he was General Manager of Rolls-Royce. George was the first employee of Rolls-Royce through BMW.
4:05 was called over to Germany. And when that happens, you're never quite sure if it's good or bad. It's usually bad.
5:33 George's neighbor (Cadilac sales manager) took George to the dealership to wash cars at age 10.
6:49 George travelled to every R-R dealer in the USA and reduced the number from 41 to 29.
8:24 BMW supplied V-12 engines for Crewe-built cars.
9:47 Volkswagen was trying to sue BMW because BMW is buying Rolls Royce at a much less expensive point than Volkswagen was
right in in 1959 in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
And then you ended up not a car guy with your first real career. Xerox?
11:43 George veers off his automotive path and worked for Xerox.
13:01 George applies successfully to BMW. Leaves Chrysler.
15:46 In 1975 only 17% of USA eard of the brand or knew that BMW was a car.
17:24 Ammirati and Puris coins THE ULTIMATE DRIVING MACHINE
19:08 George earns the moniker "Mr. Fix It" with BMW. HE served 3 of the 4 regions.
24:00In the LA region there was a BMW ad. "In Japan, they have a wonderful name for Lexus. It's called Toyota"
I know Black Hawk and and a gorgeous car.
26:05 George sells his '48 Packard Convertible to Mike Ditka.
26:31 Other cars: '65 Silver Cloud lll. Rolls Corniche 2 Spurs. '72 DeVille Convertible.
30:17 George founds ST. MICHAELS CONCOUR D'ELEGANCE
30:43 (Some R-R sayings re: breakdown) "That's not a leak. That's internal and external lubrication like aircraft." And of course,"the cars never broke. They just ceased forward motion."
37:33 About "The Closed Room"
GEORGE WALISH - PART 1 - V1 (1)
Tue, 4/13 1:06PM • 42:34
rolls royce, car, bmw, dealers, bentley, cadillac, called, bought, company, george, factory, lexus, relationship, people, land rover, ultimate driving machine, selling, vw, market, drive
Jeff Sterns 00:00
Jeff Sterns connected through cars and I'm very proud to present part one of George Wallisch. George Wallace was the general manager of Rolls Royce, North America and the very first employee of Rolls Royce when BMW bought the company, George has a very interesting background. He founded one of 10 legitimate concours in North America, whether it be Pebble Beach, or Amelia Island, or audrain, or his St. Michael's concore. He started out washing cars at a Cadillac dealership, he kind of went off path working for IBM a long time struggle a little bit Chrysler was with BMW and ultimate driving machine tagline got released by the ad agency, and eventually is running Rolls Royce for North America. Very interesting. And you're gonna want to listen all the way to how he worked around the time, when VW and BMW were trying to separate rolls and Bentley and Rolls Royce was trying to put their product pipeline orders together. Yet couldn't market yet couldn't use the name and the secret rooms that they showed to customers. Please subscribe below. Please comment, hope you enjoy.
I was called over to Germany. And when that happens, you're never quite sure if it's good or bad. It's usually bad. Pick me up the hotel in the morning in a Rolls Royce.
Jeff Sterns 01:31
Only 17% of the people had even heard of the brand BMW
or the car.
Jeff Sterns 01:37
Okay for that it
was a car. It was an ad agency in New York City called ammirati and peers. And they came out with the tagline the ultimate driving machine Lexus and Infiniti came out. Everyone underestimated. They came up with it said in Japan. They have a wonderful name for Lexus. It's called Toyota.
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.
Jeff Sterns 02:24
So, George, I can't tell you how excited I was to get together knowing that we were getting together today. I mean, it was like seeing a exciting old friend or relative
to Jeff, except I'm waiting to meet this interesting guy that you're going to interview.
Jeff Sterns 02:42
For those of you that have been watching a few of these videos, you notice I'm normally in a T shirt, but it's George today. So my ex, Rolls Royce General Manager, I've got my Rolls Royce. How many carats silver? Is that? George?
I have no idea.
Jeff Sterns 03:00
Can you do they even have carrots? And so I don't know. But I'm wearing it for you. And then in the comments. If you're watching this on video, I'd like you to put on a scale of say, nine to 10 how good I look today. And then if you're only listening on audio, you can comment how good I sound like I look in this.
You do have a good voice for radio. And I've heard also that you have a good face for it.
Jeff Sterns 03:24
Yeah, well, yep, the face for radio. For sure. And welcome to Jeff Sterns connected through cars. I'm here with George Wallace. My relationship with George started when he was General Manager, a Rolls Royce. And if I recall, you were the first employee in Rolls Royce through BMW, right? You were the rolls, the Rolls Royce team of one. You're the general manager over nobody.
That's absolutely correct.
Jeff Sterns 03:52
Just like my role now I, I sell a chat software and services to car dealers. And I remember when I started with car chat 24, nine years ago, I was VP of Sales over nobody, but fill us in a little on that if you don't mind.
Yeah, I mean, I was called over to Germany. And when that happens, you're never quite sure if it's good or bad. It's usually bad. Pick me up the hotel in the morning in a Rolls Royce. It was it was a silver surf. So I thought oh, this is pretty cool. We're going around Munich in the morning rush hour. All these people looking like who I wonder who that is? Because it's quite unique to see a Rolls Royce in Munich. I mean, the streets are so narrow and the cars are so big and it's there a lot of money. So anyway, he asked me if I was interested. And I said absolutely. So well. Come on that we're going to go into another place. And I'm going to show you the car. So they had a was more than a pre production car was a plastic car. Didn't have an engine or drive train. But it looked just like a real car. It was such a well moment, you're seeing the Phantom. For the first time I was so big at such a presence it was in your face. And it reminded me of one other time, something like that happened. And I was about 10 years old. And my next door neighbor, was a sales manager at Cadillac store in Pennsylvania, where I live. And he knew I love cars. And he takes me over on Saturday at the dealership to wash cars. And that's really how I got started in the business. So he said, Come here, I want to show you something. It was 1959. And there was a brand new 1959 Ford door fleet with the one with the you know, the bullet tail lights and the fins. And it was like a spaceship. I mean, it's it's made an indelible mark on my brain. I mean, I just, I just have never had never had an experience like that until I saw a phantom for the first time. So long story short, we got together, I was the first employee in North America. I started in 2000. And my job was to put the internal organization together and the external organization together at the time number 41 Rolls Royce dealers in the country and I visited each one of them. And we had no relationship with them because their relationship contractually was with Volkswagen. So it was really like in aerobilet, interviewing the dealers. And I think that's the first time I met you at dinner, I traveled to every one of the 41 dealers reduced it to 29 Rolls Royce was clearly over deal arise and suffered from a profitability issue from a dealer standpoint. And you probably remember these days when some guy won a Rolls Royce, got a secretary or he called all over the country wanted to get the best deal, and didn't matter where he lived, or we reduced the number of dealers from 41 to 29. Didn't have any litigation problems, because we were canceling them. Volkswagen was. So that was the beginning of my life with with with Rolls Royce.
Jeff Sterns 07:38
And George, if I could just interject here, we'll talk about it later in our conversation. But when you say Volkswagen, so prior, they're related to the dealer relationships, or with the parent company roles in Bentley called Vickers rolls and Bentley goes up for sale. It'll be your story to tell I'm not going to upstage you. But VW and BMW, were two of the suitors trying to get the brand of VW at the time. Got everything, but not quite everything. And I'll let you tell that part. But in this small interval, it had been owned for Vickers, for a long time. Rolls Royce was owned by VW for a minute and still I think had some parts supply obligation, if I'm not mistaken,
not just parts. We have we had a contractual agreement to provide them with BMW engine. Okay, yeah, the V 12. Engine. So it was more complex, then, in part, and they couldn't make cars without the engines. And so the way we worked it out, was that we would agree to provide them with the engines drive trains, for the, for the Rolls Royce. And, and BMW, during that period was building a factory. So we really didn't have a car to launch. And they didn't have an engine without BMW. So it all worked out.
Jeff Sterns 09:07
So were you supplying the W 12. For the Continental?
No, the BMW engine up until the plant open. And by that time, they had been bought by by Volkswagen and they were making their own engines and crew.
Jeff Sterns 09:23
What engines was BMW supplying to I'm assuming Bentley because VW and Bentley
the shore and the Continental was the was the big 12
Jeff Sterns 09:36
Got it? So you're supplying for the original crew England built Bentley's their engines. Okay, got it. Thank you.
Now there's another facet to this. Volkswagen was trying to sue BMW because BMW is buying Rolls Royce at a much less expensive point than motorcycle was We all know too well, especially in the retail business, the importance of relationship management ever heard, like Khun Han, who was the chairman of BMW, I have a very good relationship with sir Ralph Robbins, who was the chairman of Rolls Royce PLC, the aero engine company. And so because we had this relationship, they agreed, it was at the beginning of the EU. And there was a demand for mid range aircraft fly between the major cities of the European Union. So Rolls Royce didn't have the money to invest in mid range engine. So we went in, we lent them the money for stock, and therefore BMW had some ownership of Rolls Royce PLC. And so, since we were very close with sir Ralph Robins, he agreed to sell it to us and that's the very short, cumbersome story of how we acquire Rolls Royce.
Jeff Sterns 11:15
Got Okay. Well, let's keep it to the short story now. Because the longer story is very interesting. So but your car guy through and through, and we'll get into St. Michael's Concorde cetera. But I mean, your start was washing cars at a dealership
right in in 1959 in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
Jeff Sterns 11:38
And then you ended up not a car guy with your first real career. Xerox?
That's correct. Yeah, that was my choice. Java. Love was a great company, loved it, but didn't care about selling copies per second and plain paper kind of plain paper. So I left Xerox and went to work for Chrysler. And as much as I liked Xerox, I didn't like rice and Chrysler was really, really difficult. They were going through tough, tough times. Everybody was getting laid off. And I had an I had a friend of mine that I worked with, who had gotten laid off, went to work for the night. There was one night afterwards and I said, you know, how do you like, working for BMW? He said, it's great. It's just great. Love the car. Love the company. I said, you know, do they have any openings? Cuz I can tell the hammer was going to drop one of these days. And he said, Now, while he said there is there is one opening, but it's out in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. You want to go that? I said, Yeah, I do. My wife's from Michigan, she would love to get back to Michigan. So I went and interviewed for the job at BMW, and I got it. And my wife was thrilled to death. And I was to was a fabulous company. You know, we used to say, you know, it was just about Rolls Royce. Rolls Royce. It's the only 100 year old startup. But BMW was so new, that he kind of made up the rules as you went along. If you didn't like lemons, roll rules, you made another set a different set. And we were we were only selling 14,000 cars a year in the United States.
Jeff Sterns 13:39
When you say you know, BMW so knew that if you didn't like the rules, you make another set. That's interesting to me, because I understand something in startup mode where you have to be able to pivot, but I also know it's German owned, which is known to be a little rigid in culture.
Yes, especially when it comes to the finances. But with Churchill had a great saying about the Germans. You may have heard this there either at your throat or at your feet. And we they were at our feet because we were taking a small company that was selling 14,000 cars, and started on a March when I retired. We were making 400,000 cars are selling 400,000 in the United States. So
Jeff Sterns 14:23
what part of Detroit were you running around?
Well, I had Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, but my wife was from Grosse Pointe. So that's where we settle.
Jeff Sterns 14:35
Oh, you married money. Excuse me.
She shorted anyway. Time. Well, I
Jeff Sterns 14:42
my dad was a dealer in Royal Oak, by the way independent. BMW, you're, you're calling on dealers in the mid 70s. In How did that go? I mean, it was a startup. I mean, the it wasn't like you could have a lot of control over franchises like you. I mean, not that you probably control them. They're independently owned. But manufacturers have a lot of control in certain aspects of franchises. Now, that's for sure. How was it with BMW in 75. With dealers,
it was tough. It was tough. I mean, he had under the previous importer, Max Hoffman up in Motors Corporation, he was a distributor before BMW bought him out. And he knew that he was going to be selling out to BMW ag. And he kept ordering cars and ordering cars, because he bought it on a per car basis. You know, the factory was pushing cars on dealers and was no margin in the was the awareness level in 1975, when I took over, was 17%. The awareness level of a BMW in half the people thought that was British motor works.
Jeff Sterns 15:58
So in 1975, through polls or surveys, only 17% of the people had even heard of the brand BMW, or the car, okay, or that it was a car. And half of those people didn't even know what BMW stood for. British motor works, right as opposed to Bavarian. Okay, so that's a different time for anyone watching now. I mean, obviously, BMW is as strong, probably as almost as Coca Cola. Now,
brand has grown by leaps and bounds and the reputation of the company, which is one of the reasons that we bought Rolls Royce. Is Mercedes had this wonderful, these wonderful bloodlines? Yes, sk and all these wonderful cars. BMW had no bloodlines. And so the strategy was to buy many, this is BMW, by many is the entry level car, have a great line of cars in the middle, and then have the best car in the world at the top
Jeff Sterns 17:03
and the entry level 75 was at 1600 or 2002.
Well, the entry level? Well, it goes back to the height zetta. You know,
Jeff Sterns 17:13
but you didn't have eyes era?
No, I joined the company in 75.
Jeff Sterns 17:17
Well, then I think the ultimate driving machine tagline came out in 75.
Yes, it was an ad agency in New York City called MRI, it appears. And they came out with the tagline, the ultimate driving machine, which is still used today.
Jeff Sterns 17:36
That an amazing feat of advertising there. I mean, how many taglines get used that long, 45 years,
I couldn't Name three or four that Lexus has added. Since it's been came to the United States.
Jeff Sterns 17:49
So any stories, any conflicts with dealers, any problems with dealers?
No. I mean, we were growing by leaps and bounds. I mean, it was we're making a lot of money for the first time. And there was more demand and supply. We came out with new models, you know, you know, four wheel drive for New England and, and convertibles for California. And they were hitting it out of the park every time.
Jeff Sterns 18:19
So when you join the company, it was not easy to sell a BMW in the margins were very thin for the dealer. When did this leaps and bounds vehicle shortage profitability start
in the 80s. By 1984. I have become a senior executive with the company, which if I had stayed with Chrysler parts rep in Toledo, you know.
Jeff Sterns 18:42
So now you're a senior exec with BMW By the mid 80s. And you are over help much of the United States.
Well, it got to the point where I was General sales manager in the late 80s and had responsible for the entire country.
Jeff Sterns 18:58
Okay, so general sales manager over North America. Nice, but I heard that you earned a reputation for a little bit of a troubleshooter.
My name was Mr. Fixit, Mr. Fix it for regions in the country and going to three of the four.
Jeff Sterns 19:17
So George, I'm gonna ask you a question that I hope doesn't put you on the spot. But I was a successful, reasonably successful retailer for a long time, over 25 years in management for almost 25 years. And I was able to take stores that were underperforming and get them to perform. I'd always imagined that it was because of some kind of retail customer facing action or plan, including I mean, I had a brand that we grew 20% when the market was down 80% so I never and I'm saying this with respect, I never thought of the manufacturer having anything to do with me getting more So, how did you go in when car sales were down as, as the factory,
you know, I, I used to tell the guys in the field, you have to understand two things. One is you're from the factory, and the viewer doesn't like it. And the second is, you're from the factory, and the fact that he doesn't trust you. And whenever you can gain someone's confidence and convince them that you're genuinely out to help them. I never met a dealer that wouldn't meet me halfway. Again. We were talking about relationship management earlier. It's all relationship management. Well,
Jeff Sterns 20:41
I knew that you were fabulous with the relationships, no doubt about it. You're a super guy to work with when we are working together. But what could you do as a general sales manager of BMW, you said, you went into a few markets that were underperforming or struggling, and you helped turn them around? I understand you're not taking all the credit. But what could you do from your role? I was just
an average guy who liked people got along with people got the numbers on the scoreboard. And this anybody?
Jeff Sterns 21:13
So as Mr. Fix it, though, someone says, Hey, George, this territory, what would you do? Whether it was you physically or you encouraging a dealer or through relationships, to get the numbers going in that area? Again,
you know, it wasn't so much going into dealerships and telling them how to do it. I've never sold a car retail. It was, okay, part of my territory is New England. We didn't have a four wheel drive, we got the factory to provide us with vehicles that had all wheel drive, with start marketing that factor and sales went up. I mean, it's it's that I don't mean to say it's simple. But some of these weren't difficult things. They were just things that we listen to dealers, and respond to what they're telling us they need to increase sales.
Jeff Sterns 22:11
So do you I mean, you're your humble guy, you don't take a lot of credit. You keep saying I'm just a regular guy. But the prior reps before you came walking in, we're not spotting, we need an all wheel drive. And once we provide the all wheel drive, we got to give the now let me explain if you're not in the car business, there's tier one, tier two and tier three, advertising in marketing. So tier one would be national advertising. tier two would be regional advertising, which of course in New England, we would talk about our all wheel drive, and we wouldn't run that ad in Florida is out, you know, Southeast region. And then tier three would be the dealer doing his or her own advertising. That would be synergistic with the manufacturer advertising.
Yeah, I mean, factory usually would do or shouldn't have done strategic advertising. And the tactical, you know, Lisa 320 for 299 a month that that would be the tactical advertising. I remember when Lexus and and the other thing is that, which bitnami did that was fabulous. They empowered us to do the job. And when Lexus and Infiniti came out, everyone underestimated Lexus and Infiniti. They're never going to compete with Mercedes and BMW.
Jeff Sterns 23:40
Yeah. How is Toyota and Nissan going to have a luxury brand?
Yeah, exactly. Well, they ate our lunch, Lexus, and Infiniti. And I got with our advertising agency in LA, we were each region was allowed to select their own advertising agency. They came up with an ad. It said, In Japan, they have a wonderful name for Lexus. It's called Toyota and Toyota phonetically spelled. You never saw that on the East Coast because that was something we did on the west coast. And the head of marketing, called me one day and said, you can't you can't do this, that that's not the kind of work we do. And I said, well, it's working. It was another ad about pulling up to the country club in your Toyota. I don't know if I answered your question. But you know, we, we tried to listen to the market. We were empowered to adapt to the market sales work. I mean, you found your sales for BMW probably increased so much when convertible.
Jeff Sterns 24:52
But you yourself. You are a car and you've had a few interesting cars. Did you mind sharing, I mean listener or the watcher might be interested in this factory exact that might just be doing it for the money. I mean, after all, he did work for Xerox for 20 whatever years. Is he really a car guy?
As I told you my first job was washing cars in the Cadillac store and middle class neighborhood growing up. I mean, nobody drove a Cadillac. I mean, it was just and I'd hang out next door every night when when sales manager came home to see what he was driving. So the first car I bought, I started making a little money and had some excess spendable income is I bought a 1937 Cadillac fleetly from a dealer out in Danville, California Blackhawk.
Jeff Sterns 25:51
I know Black Hawk and and a gorgeous car.
So I bought the car and loved. The next one was a 48 Packard convertible. I bought it when I was living in Chicago. It's a low mileage original car that I bought out of Idaho. So I ended up selling that car as the rich guy that you might think those of your listeners who don't know, he was the coach of the Chicago Bears, bears. He he bought that car for me.
Jeff Sterns 26:19
Now did you know Mike Ditka and he knew the car or did you just run an ad and he happened to be the guy that answered.
I knew somebody that knew him. And let's see the next one was 65 silvercloud. Three. And this time I was I was working for Rolls Royce and I had to get a Rolls Royce. I had a 65 silvercloud three that I bought Cornish I had to spur. Now, I didn't have all these cars at the same time. I would buy one foot one.
Jeff Sterns 26:51
You didn't lose your love affair with Cadillac, then you end up with a bill.
My last car I just sold last year I had a 72 bill convertible last year that the bill convertible.
Jeff Sterns 27:03
Now that See, that's a little bit more my era. I mean, I was five years old in 1970. She's Oh, sorry. Sorry.
I graduated from college 71.
Jeff Sterns 27:16
But just because my hair was just as wide as yours when we met doesn't mean that we're the same. But the cars I remember when I started noticing cars around probably age five, because I can remember the cars that my neighbors had. And I remember a DeVille that may have been a 6970 7172 something like that. But I could be get very excited about that car. That's a beautiful car.
Yeah. You know, when I was a kid in the 70s, that's when Cadillac was a Cadillac. More in the 60s. That's when Cadillac was a Cadillac. And it was an aspirational vehicle. But I was a little different than most of the guys my age, were looking at Plymouth Road Runners and gtos and Mustangs. Well,
Jeff Sterns 27:59
Cadillac really was the car. And today, people that don't remember any of that era, of course, I wasn't around in the 60s to remember when it was such an aspirational car. But God knows selling cars my whole life. I've run into enough people from that era to know. And it's ingrained in me that Cadillac really was the car, whether you are successful businessman or a gangster or whatever.
When did demmick go into business with catalog? Well,
Jeff Sterns 28:25
when I started at dimmitt, in 96, it was an 85 year old store. And they were Yes. And they were actually South East United States distributors of Buick in the 40s. So they they did okay. Cadillac though, being the most aspirational car I mean, Rolls Royce was a thing then to the ridiculous aspirational like, not almost not attainable. And then BMW and Mercedes were really unknown esoteric, the weird guys, the leather patches on the tweed jacket. That was that was a strange Volvo was kind of a
Jeff Sterns 29:15
person. Saab was a weird, odd person, and then Lexus infinity were not a thing at the time. And Lincoln was really he couldn't quite handle before to Cadillac. My right.
It basically Yes.
Jeff Sterns 29:31
Yeah. And, George, you have I mean, really your underplaying how much of a car nut or gear head you are. Can you talk to us about your concor
I know that I knew that we did a lot was like Pebble Beach, the Concorde at Pebble Beach and Amelia Island. And so when I retired in 2005, and I wanted something to do, but I didn't want to get paid. So, where I live now on the eastern shore of Maryland, there was the closest Concord to the north, was outside Philadelphia, the closest one to the south was Hilton. So there were no help. There were no concor events, myself and a bunch of other guys created one, and cut what would have been the 13th year but we canceled and it's been very successful. We raised well over half a million dollars for charities during that time. And it was it was fun.
Jeff Sterns 30:43
You get called to Germany. You don't know why it's never good news. Normally, if you get called to Germany, you get called to Germany. It's good news. They offer you the position to head up and organize and put the structure in for Rolls Royce North America. So who are you reporting to?
Howard Mosher of the UK, my contract was with Munich. But I reported to Howard Mosher, yo, Howard.
Jeff Sterns 31:12
Yes, if I recall, he was Land Rover, Land Rover prior.
Right. I reported to him in the UK. That's a big name.
Jeff Sterns 31:21
Did you get to know him at all?
No. He actually worked for me for a while when he was managing role of Land Rover and the next day,
Jeff Sterns 31:30
because be the time the period that BMW own land rover? That's correct. And he reported to you.
In a sense, yeah. I never played that card.
Jeff Sterns 31:43
Well, okay. Well, that's saying something right there. So let me lay out the structure. Before Rolls Royce went up for sale by Vickers and before VW and BMW ended up buying whatever pieces they bought, they were all built in. I mean, going back a million years Derby in Boston, but they were built in a town called crew England. That's correct. And as a matter of fact, the fellow that I have helping me edit these podcasts, videos in audio, is a music producer outside of crew England, that I'm sending all this to however, we met in an interesting way that we met, I gotta give him credit. Hopefully he'll do a good job and make us both look good. But when they split, and VW ended up with Bentley, they stayed at crew and put a lot of investment in the crew. Plant.
Yeah, but still, you have a factory full of people who weren't trained to have such that attention to detail. You had a lot of people who spent their whole life managing failure. And don't say that disrespectfully. I mean, that's where they were, that was the culture of the company. And that's the way they were brought up. And BMW thought it might be a good idea to take Tony God and make them hope, make them head of Rolls Royce, reporting to Karl Heinz cartel, it didn't take long to realize that they just didn't get it culturally, in terms of what they were producing.
Jeff Sterns 33:26
So it's a lot easier to start a new culture than try to bend a very established culture.
We went down to the south Hamptons of England and hiring craftsmen who built Boats by hand. People who we could train ourselves. We don't think we brought anyone from crew
Jeff Sterns 33:47
and to the listener, let me explain. You're just saying attention to detail and you're thinking Well, my God, they were building rolls and Bentley's before they were building cars with the most unbelievable wood in the world in the most unbelievable hide, you know, leather in the world and the most unbelievable hand painted finishes in the world and some beautiful design,
but you would think,
Jeff Sterns 34:08
well, I would get them to the showroom brand new. When I got into business. Bentley Brooklands was if I recall, Buck, 80 ish spur was to 10 ish, the Continental RS and T's were towards 300 and issuer was three load mid threes, etc. And we had them leaking in the showroom and God rest his soul Rodney more Did you know Rodney? I don't want anymore was the rolls and Bentley rep prior to the sale. Scottish guy funny. Unbelievable. I mean, if he was alive I mean Everyone misses him just but he's to say when I'd say Rodney because I was used to it was in a Cadillac Land Rover dealer. So of course I was used to a little bit of Gremlins with Land Rover, English, but I'd say I got these brand new cars with a couple $100,000 Window are $300,000 window with a cookie sheet under them in the showroom, and it goes, That's not a leak. That's internal and external lubrication like aircraft. And of course, the cars never broke. They just ceased forward motion.
But I mean, I've seen Bentley's when I went around to this show that overspray on different parts of the body. Yes. Yeah, yeah.
Jeff Sterns 35:30
I mean, I remember a red Bentley as you're got off the truck. And the technician who was getting it prepared for a new car sale, taking all the plastic off and doing all the adjustments, doing the fluids, all that business showed me that the entire underside of the car was red, the cosmoline was painted red, and he was worried that it was damaged. And it was a port repair. So for those of you not in the car business, a port repair means that a car comes in on the boat, and arrives in New Jersey, or North Carolina or Newport, California, wherever it arrives, and they got damaged, coming off the boat or going on the boat and they perform new car, they perform repairs on new cars. And if it's under a certain percent a window sticker, they don't even it doesn't even have to be disclosed. And that could actually even be a domestic car, they got transport damage under a certain amount of MSRP percent of I'm not sure 3% I don't remember, then they can repair it and it would be fine work of the factory spec repair. But I I've seen them with painted headlights and taillights. I'm sure you've seen that I've seen the VIN plate completely painted. I've seen that in Ferrari too. And underneath the car, but one thing I got to give VW in Germany got involved with Bentley Continental is they were not leaking. But we
still have to overcome that prior reputation. And it took a while for us to do that. And even though BMW was behind it, we still had took a while to overcome that.
Jeff Sterns 37:06
And you've done you've done an unbelievable job overcoming it. And you mind sharing a little if you remember, too bad we didn't have what was your designer's name?
Jeff Sterns 37:17
Do you ever stay in contact with America? And what's going on?
Just a Christmas? I do. I've stayed in touch with him. Because Merrick and I did the closed rooms together.
Jeff Sterns 37:28
Yes. And we're going to talk I want to talk if you'll let me Can we talk about the closed room?
Sure. Okay, we were I was thought we were in a flight with our hands tied behind our back. Because we according to our agreement with Volkswagen, we couldn't use the name Rolls Royce. We couldn't market it. We couldn't, until the car was finished. And we made the official transfer. We couldn't use the name Rolls Royce. So we're trying to figure out how even to do build an order bag. So we can hit the ground running when we introduce the Phantom. So we picked three of the biggest markets in the country, which was Los Angeles, Palm Beach, South Florida, and New York. So we went to a very unlikely spot didn't look anything like anything. These were warehouses. I mean, we didn't have a sign out front. We didn't we just it was totally secure. And no one knew what was in the building. And we allowed sales people like yourself, to bring a client, they had to sign a confidentiality agreement. They couldn't take any pictures. And we would show them wasn't even a pre production car. It was mostly made out of plastic. But it looked like it had real leather and had real wood, no engine their drive train and ask the customer or prospect to sign a confidentiality agreement. If they didn't see what they saw. I think Jeff, I think you did as well, I think coffee.
Jeff Sterns 39:22
I'm sure I broke it like I do everything. But yeah,
that's why they make rules, right? So we wrote four or 500 orders during that period that we weren't even allowed to use the name, which was more than our first year of production.
Jeff Sterns 39:41
Let me do you mind if I explain a little more? So I want to really give the idea because it's not like we can show a picture of it or a video of it. So imagine how fun this was. So I'm a retailer. I have years of relationships with exotic car customers and George says, I would like you to invite your very best clients to come see the car, you're going to have to have them sign a confidentiality agreement before they come, you'll have to do the same. Now when I said I broke the rule, I'm under confidentiality, but I'm having to explain to my clients what this thing is. So we are being surgical and cautious, if not stone confidential, right. And so now we're calling in, if any of my old clients are watching this and you weren't invited, it doesn't mean that I didn't love you, we were only allowed to invite a certain number. And we tried to pair it up with who we thought would be most likely either to buy one, or give input because they were like heavy, heavy Rolls Royce not I was lucky because I developed a relationship with a private airport over at St. Pete Clearwater airport, a dear friend named Steve Fox, who owns Clearwater aviation over there, and I was getting flying lessons from them. So when I needed to go to one of these events, a meeting down there or Naples, whatever, and we're driving all the you're not driving, I was flying, but needing to go all the time, he would put me down for a lesson, which would enable him to sell me the flight a lot cheaper. So I'd make it a flying lesson. With a pilot, I'd be in the back or whatever. And we would take either a twin Baron aircraft, or if depending on how many if just one of us win, or a couple of us win, or even assess the single engine, which would be what I'd be getting the lesson on, and fly down, which would probably be 45 minutes, but we'd meet the customer from wherever they work because our customers were never local. And we're driving into may make you wonder if it wasn't legitimate being set up to get robbed. Because it was in a commercial warehouse area
that look like well. Yeah, well,
Jeff Sterns 41:48
it went well. It was a warehouse. And, and like is this the address and remember, this is the Rolls Royce customer and this is a manufacturer sponsored event. So they're used to getting wined and dined in hospitality and all of that business, which with whatever brands they work with in their lives. yacht builder, watch spirits, cigars, the world they live in, they're always getting entertained by various manufacturers or marketing. And we're all looking like Could this be like, Is there something wrong with the map?
This has been Jeff Sterns connected through cars.