Prince Automotive Group Takes a Small-Town Approach
Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
Honesty and integrity may not be the first words people generally associate with car dealers, but those are the principles on which John Prince III built Prince Automotive Group. For nearly 50 years, the company has served Tifton and more recently Valdosta, Douglas and Albany through seven dealerships representing numerous automakers including General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Honda and Mazda.
"We are in relatively small towns so we sell to the same people over and over. My dad has always believed in treating people the right way," said John's son Jay Prince.
John Prince oversees the day-to-day operations along with his son Jay, daughters Heather and Heidi as well as their spouses. The family-owned company believes in giving back to the community, both financially and through volunteer work.
"We were born and raised here and we plan on staying. We want to see our communities grow," Jay said.
Finding Opportunity in a Down Economy
Prince Automotive has expanded rapidly over the past two years. In 2010, they acquired the Chevrolet dealership in Albany. In 2011, they acquired the GMC and Buick dealerships in Valdosta and the Buick and Cadillac dealerships in Albany.
"When the recession began in 2008/2009, we were fortunate to be well capitalized so we had the opportunity to acquire dealerships. Plus GM's bankruptcy in 2009 opened our eyes a bit. We realized it was important to diversify and not have all our eggs in one basket," Jay said.
According to Jay, 2011 was a good year for the company and business is up again so far in 2012. According to Edmunds.com, an online provider of automotive information, an estimated 1,166,665 new cars will be sold in July, which is an increase of 10.2 percent over July 2011.
"Nationwide there is pent-up demand for new cars and it helps that interest rates are low. Also manufacturers have made great strides in fuel economy in the last few years so some people elect to trade in to realize 20 to 25 percent better fuel efficiency on the same vehicle model," Jay said.
New car sales for 2013 are projected to be 15 million, up from 11 million in 2011 and projections of 14 million for 2012, according to Jay. He believes the presidential election will provide more certainty, which will help the economy.
Taking Care of Business
Service is a big component of the business at Prince Automotive Group. It has become a bigger share of revenues over the past two years as the company has become more aggressive at matching market pricing on maintenance items such as tires and oil changes.
"We've always believed in the service business. It's part of taking care of our customers who we sell to over and over," Jay said.
The company also believes in taking good care of its employees, many of who have worked there for decades. Prince's general manager in Tifton has been with the company for 46 years, which is representative of a lot of employees, according to Jay.
"We believe that if we take care of our employees and provide them with a good place to work then they will turn around and take the same care of our customers," Jay said.
More information on Prince Automotive Group is available at www.princeauto.com or call (229) 242-3311