As Norman Vialle walks to and from his office on a daily basis, the odds are good he will occasionally see a customer he once sold a car to at Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler.
“The most rewarding part of the business is having people come back time and time again,” Vialle said, “and having people come back and bring their kids to buy cars from you. I now have people who have brought their grandkids in to buy cars from here. I am on some of my third generation of customers here.
“It is fun to sell somebody one car, but the friendships and relationships you establish with customers is great.”
As the owner and president of Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler, Vialle runs a thriving dealership that employs about 95 people.
Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler, at 8775 Metcalf Ave., is proud of its family-owned heritage. It opened in its current location in 1973 as American Motors Corporation dealership.
Vialle’s uncle, Frank Thompson, was a manager in 1973 and eventually bought the dealership. Vialle arrived at the dealership on March 1, 1984, after spending a couple of years as a financial planner.
“I came here and sold cars and then worked my way up through management,” Vialle said. “I have been either a partial owner or complete owner for the last 10 years.
“He (Thompson) was my mentor and taught me everything I know. He laid the groundwork for what it is today.”
When the dealership first opened, Metcalf Ave was a two-lane road. Obviously, that is no longer the case with the area’s amazing growth in the 1980s and 1990s.
“It exploded to the south, blew on by us and kept on going,” Vialle said. “We were on the south part of town and now we are kind of on the north side of town.”
The location of Overland Park Jeep Dodge Ram Chrysler has helped business, but it is the vehicles sold there that keep consumers coming back.
“The product has been good and getting better all the time,” Vialle said. “It is the quality, the styling and the Jeep line is so popular. The Ram truck is winning all kinds of awards.
“The cars are great. They are just fantastic. We now have Jeeps that get over 30 miles per gallon. We have a new Jeep coming out at the beginning of the year called the Jeep Renegade. It is going to appeal to high school and college kids. It is going to get 30-plus miles per gallon.”
Vialle said the future is bright for fans of Chrysler vehicles. The 2015 Town & Country minivan and the 2015 Chrysler 200 are just a couple of examples of vehicles that have upgraded.
“The most exciting thing is when you have new product, new technology, new styling and improved performance,” Vialle said. “It creates customer excitement.”
It is easy to hear the enthusiasm from Vialle when he talks about the vehicles his dealership sells. But he is just as excited when it comes to his dealership giving back to the community.
They have a program called Giving Back.
“I run a campaign for a charity for two months and I give that charity money for every car we sell for that two-month period,” Vialle said.
“It allows me to do six campaigns a year and provide free advertising for that charity. It is TV advertising for that charity and it reminds people about the charity and give to that charity and then at the end of the two-month period, based on how many cars we sell, I give them money.”
In October and November, the Giving Back program supported Muscular Dystrophy. The campaign for December and January is for Harvesters.
“We have always tried to give to local charities, but I really stepped it up in the last three or four years,” Vialle said.
Whether it is engaging with his staff or customers or working on programs that help others, it easy to see that Vialle enjoys coming to work each day.
“Most of my managers have been here 20 years or longer,” he said. “The staff that I work with is so great and so dedicated and loyal.
“Customers comment how much they like coming here because they see the same faces over and over. They are comfortable with the management staff.”
If you have a story you would like to see in On the Move, email David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com.