All the good things that happened in July at Premier Mazda reaffirmed to new owner Thomas Bies that making this dealership the first acquisition for Elm Creek Autogroup was a wise move.
For confirmation, Bies only needed to look at the numbers in their grand-opening month of July. In addition to the 700 people who came into the store at 13900 Washington St., Kansas City, to register to win a 2016 Mazda3, Premier Mazda sold plenty of cars.
“We sold right at 100 cars in the month of July,” said Bies, president and co-founder of Elm Creek Autogroup. “We were the No. 1 Mazda dealer in Kansas City. It was the first time that store had achieved that mark. We were very proud of that.”
On the last day of July, Bies made a trip from his home base of Dallas to present the 2016 Mazda3 to the winners, Rachel and Zach Sewell.
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“It was great,” Bies said. “It could not have worked out better for us.”
To Bies, it was fate.
“He is a pastor,” Bies said “He does prison ministry outreach and other things at his church in south Overland Park. His wife is pregnant with their first child.”
Bies said she had a small car that had no room in it for a car seat.
“They were the perfect winner, not that anyone would have been a bad winner,” Bies said.
Indeed. Martin City and the people in the south part of Kansas City quickly grew on Bies during his trips to the area to buy Premier Mazda.
His first taste of Kansas City came last winter when he made trips from Dallas in December, January and February.
“I fell in love with the area,” Bies said. “It is a beautiful area. It is a great place to do business. I met a lot of folks in Martin City. It just felt right.”
Bies and his partner closed the deal in March. Several factors weighed in. He liked the Mazda brand and the products coming out in the next few years. He believes in the leadership and vision at Mazda. The price range of the vehicles fit.
“It is right where we want to be in that $20,000 to $35,000 space,” Bies said. “Some of the accolades Mazda has got over the last year really resonate with customers. You can tell Mazda is doing a great job and is committed to the evolution of their product and safety.”
Bies also liked the ability to compete for market share in Kansas City. In Dallas, he said, Mazda dealers are competing against each other. That is not as much the case in the Kansas City area.
“You are able to position yourself and compete against other brands,” Bies said. “We are able to differentiate ourselves.
“When we sat down and put the company together and where we wanted to be, we wanted to be not in gigantic markets like Dallas-Fort Worth. South Kansas City was the perfect demographic with the number of people and everything else that makes that such a great area.”
Currently, Elm Creek Autogroup has two dealerships. The other is a Premier Kia in Lufkin, Texas. Bies and his partner have a vision to grow to 10 to 15 dealerships in the next five years. Kansas City figures to be part of that growth.
“We have letters of intent on two others and we are actively pursuing two others in the Kansas City market,” Bies said.
Bies said the dealerships in Kansas City will play an active role in the community. One of the programs he plans to start in the Grandview area is a teacher of the month. Students will write in about a teacher, and the teacher who is selected will drive a Mazda6 for a month.
“There are so many options when it comes to buying a car,” Bies said. “There are different places you can go and so many different brands you can look at.”
By being an active part of the community puts the dealership in mind when a new or used car is needed.
Bies is very happy the way the community has embraced their arrival.
“The Martin City community and the chamber people have been so accommodating to us,” Bies said.
If you have a story you would like to see On the Move, email David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com.