Auto

Driven to be number 1

BY BRIAN BONITTO Associate Editor — Auto and Entertainment

Friday, June 15, 2012    

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SIX months after officially breaking ground for the construction of a US$13.5m Volkswagen and Audi showroom facilities in New Kingston's financial district, ATL Group and Sandals Resort CEO Adam Stewart is pleased at its pace.

A June 2013 date had been set for its completion, however, Stewart has his sights set on a far different target.

"We will be having parties in them this Christmas," he said.

The property — the largest total investment in Jamaica's automotive history — will house two, two-storey, 8,000 sq ft, state-of-the-art, eight-car showrooms.

"That's how confident we are in the brands we represent and our investment is testament to that," Stewart he told Auto. "These are the brands of today, and certainly of the future. Being proud to represent them is an understatement."

Stewart, the son of hotel mogul Gordon 'Butch' Stewart, has made a significant impact in the automotive sector since his entry in 2009.

"We came into this industry with a view to reinventing it and we are committed to doing so," he said.

"With our dedicated and well-trained staff, our vision is to be number one in sales and service. We intend to keep our customers for life and that's what 'Unbeatable' is," he said, referring to his companies' mantra of positioning themselves as market leaders.

Stewart claims are proven by the numbers. In the first year of operation, he grew Audi sales by 720 per cent; Volkswagen by 591 per cent; and, Land Rover by 162 per cent.

Since then, he has seen continued growth as Audi sales have risen 143 per cent to date when compared to the similar period last year. As for Volkswagen, it is enjoying a 230 per cent increase when compared with 2011 figures.

"We may not yet be number one in sales, but we're determined to be," Stewart said. "We're only just warming up."

Eclipsed only by Toyota Jamaica in sales, ATL Automotive Limited continues to grow its market share.

In addition to Audi, Volkswagen and Land Rover, the company currently holds the dealership for the Range Rover, Jaguar, and Honda brands.

Last year, ATL Automotive Limited won the JD Power and Associates (Honda Automobile Customer Experience) Award for being the number one dealership for customer service satisfaction in Latin America and the Caribbean.

"Honda is where our automotive world began in 1997 and to be number one now, in such an international competitive environment, is confirmation of our 'Unbeatable' management and staff," he said. "I also have to thank Jamaica for continued trust and support of our group. We commit to doing only great things for our customers and Jamaica."

A firm believer in the training and development of its staff, Stewart said a 3,000 sq ft facility is under construction on lower Hagley Park Road in St Andrew with full tooling, lifts, diagnostic equipment and 24 computer stations for use by the organisation's team members.

"Training, training, training, and more training is what makes us 'Unbeatable'... whether it be in customer service, sales and technical know how," he said. "If we sell it, we guarantee we can service it."

According of CEO ATL Group, on completion of the two buildings in December, another one is slated to go up.

"We will begin construction of a Jaguar/Land Rover facility in 2013 on the same site as the new VW and Audi showrooms," he said.

Two years ago, Stewart opened a US$4.25-million ultra-modern Autohaus in Montego Bay, St James — the only full sales and service facility in western Jamaica — and a first of its kind in the tourist resort capital.

"Other brands have attempted to follow ATL with a gas station-type service approach, but to date no other group has put their money where their mouth is and invested in the west to serve its citizens as ATL has done," he said.

The CEO said job creation was an immediate spin-off of his organisation's investments.

"Between Kingston and Montego Bay, a total of 240 persons will be employed, of which 140 will be newly created under the expansion programme," Stewart said. "And this is great for Jamaica's economy."

At the groundbreaking ceremony in January, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller lauded the Stewarts for their investments by saying it was a demonstration of the private sector's confidence in Jamaica and projects of this nature could greatly help the country to overcome its economic hurdles.

"We can overcome the economic challenges if the Government and the private sector work together constructively," the prime minister had said.

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