As construction workers were busy turning a building into the new Overland Park Fiat in mid July, Tony Pate was across the street in his office, doing all the things necessary to make the Overland Park Auto Group as successful as possible.
Since arriving as chief operating officer for OPAG, Pate has watched the company expand. OPAG purchased Fiat of Olathe in May and moved all of the new Fiats to 7722 Metcalf Ave.
Across the street are Overland Park Mazda and Volvo of Overland Park at 7801 Metcalf. The expansion, and his friendship with OPAG owner Doug Kinney, were the two reasons that lured Pate from Austin, Texas.
“Doug and I have been friends for 20 years,” Pate said. “He asked me if I would move here and run his company. I said no problem. I moved here because of him. He is just a good man. He is good in the community. He is one of the finest human beings I have ever met.
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“When I first talked to Doug before I moved here, we shared a vision of adding more franchises. We are in the growth mode. We are going to be buying more franchises. That is what really enticed me to come here and be part of a world-class company. We want to have a great reputation in the community.”
The addition of Fiat and other Italian-made cars excites Pate. Overland Park Fiat started selling cars on Monday, and the grand opening is scheduled for Aug. 1.
“We should be moved in; the outside of the building won’t be finished, but we will have cars in the showroom and we will start selling off the Fiat location,” Pate said.
Pate said Fiat appeals to people ranging from their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond.
“We have had customers in their 50s and 60s come in and tell us how much they enjoy this car to drive,” Pate said. “Fiat is an up-and-coming vehicle that appeals to all segments of the market. It has a special unique following of people. The vehicle is a fun vehicle and exciting to drive. It has a lot of features you wouldn’t get on most cars. And it is a great economical vehicle to own. It gets good gas mileage.”
In the future, Overland Park Fiat will sell the Alfa Romeo.
“We are real excited about that,” Pate said. “That is another up-and-coming product that is going to make an impact in the automotive industry. It is going to be a unique vehicle to go with the Fiat. They are both Italian products. I think the Italian cars are going to be a big hit.”
The proximity of Overland Park Fiat to the Mazda and Volvo dealerships will help all three, Pate said.
“We are trying to brand our company as destination happiness,” Pate said. “You come here to buy a car, whether it is Volvo, Mazda or Fiat, we want the customer to enjoy the experience of buying a car like years ago when people bought cars. Our whole goal here is to deliver happiness to our customers.”
There will be plenty of smiling people at the location during the NFL season. On July 17, the Kansas City Chiefs and the OPAG reached a three-year partnership agreement.
“The Overland Park Auto Group is the official proud sponsor of the Kansas City Chiefs,” Pate said.
And that means the official Red Friday rallies will be held at OPAG. The first one will be Red Thursday for the Chiefs home opener on Sept. 17.
“We will have cheerleaders here, ambassadors from the Kansas City Chiefs to sign autographs,” Pate said. “We will give away Kansas City Chiefs flags. We are really excited about it. It is a big deal.”
Besides the Chiefs, Pate said OPAG has 10 reasons why customers should buy cars there. One of them is the two-week exchange policy.
“So if you drive the car for two weeks and don’t like it, bring it back and exchange it for another vehicle,” Pate said. “We will put you into something you like. The No. 1 goal for all of our products is customer satisfaction.”
If you have a story you would like to see On the Move, email David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com.