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ATL Autohaus makes massive investment in Montego Bay

BY PATRICK FOSTER Sunday Observer writer fosterp@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 19, 2010    

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IN 1997 ATL, better known for appliance sales, entered the auto industry in Jamaica, representing with gusto the Honda motor vehicle brand through its subsidiary ATL Motors.

Now, 13 successful years later, the ATL Group has taken another momentous leap forward offering three world-renowned premium luxury brands and world-class vehicle servicing to the Jamaican marketplace.

Earlier this year the Gordon 'Butch' Stewart-owned company won the dealership for German brands Volkswagen (VW) and the prestigious Audi, and established a top-flight auto centre — ATL Autohaus — at Oxford Road in Kingston.

Hot on the heels of that achievement, ATL Autohaus's sister company, ATL Automotive added Britain's iconic Land Rover and Jaguar vehicles to its line-up, completing the widest array of premium brands locally in one distributorship.

But the expansion is not confined to Kingston.

Tomorrow, the group opens the first complete auto centre to be built in the second city of Montego Bay, bringing ATL Autohaus and a new concept in vehicle sales to western Jamaica.

"Montego Bay is a very special place in the history of our group of companies. This is where it all began for our chain of hotels," commented ATL Group Deputy Chairman Adam Stewart.

The hotel chain to which he referred is the ultra all-inclusive Sandals resorts of which he is the CEO.

"ATL Autohaus is yet another momentous milestone for our Group, for Montegonians and surrounding communities," Stewart added. "The second city, the growth zone for business in Jamaica, needed its own full-service dealership. A first for Jamaica and the region."

Under one roof ATL will present all its motor vehicle brands, and a spanking new diagnostic facility, which the company insists is on par with anywhere else in the world.

"For too long it has been said that MoBay is poised to take off, we believe it has already done so and is fully deserving of this flagship location with state-of-the-art facilities, innovation and services," Stewart declared.

That commitment to quality service was also emphasised by Adam Stewart's father, Butch, who developed a reputation for treating his customers like royalty.

"We're right back to our core values of service and giving the customers more than they expect," said Butch Stewart, the ATL chairman. "We're the only group that provides comprehensive service, maintenance and repairs... I'm so proud to represent these most powerful brands on behalf of the driving public of Jamaica."

Initially the state-of-the-art MoBay centre will sell and service Audi, VW and Honda brands, adding Jaguar and Land Rover early November, the ATL Group deputy chairman said.

ATL's bold step strongly underscores Butch Stewart's investment resolve, and confidence in the economy, even in a trying financial climate.

With a US$4.25-million capital injection in Montego Bay, the outlet is high on customer service as it seeks to represent the best that the international auto world has to offer.

ATL Autohaus has already employed 150 people with 40 stationed in Montego Bay.

And overall, Stewart is investing approximately US$13 million in the construction and fitting of new premises for the new motor vehicle dealership.

Located at the Bogue City Centre on the outskirts of Montego Bay is an 8,000-square-foot contemporary showroom and service centre that aptly reflects the vision of the principals.

"Anyone who buys motor vehicles from us can expect that we'll have the parts and expertise available so that their cars can continue running like they just came out of the factory," said Butch Stewart, who is also chairman of the Observer.

ATL officials last week made it clear that there will be no lengthy wait for spare parts and no downtime on the motor vehicle brands taken in for servicing.

"ATL Automotive has invested over US$1.75 million in spare parts and will boast a 90 per cent 'parts pick rate', which means no lengthy wait for expensive parts to arrive," said Andrew Brennan, dealer principal of Bogue ATL Autohaus.

Brennan, a long-time MoBay resident, cognisant of ATL's commitment has welcomed the move to the resort city.

"As a Montegonian for over 20 years, I can say with confidence that this full sales and service facility, with the premium brands exclusively represented, is a strong signal of the confidence that ATL Autohaus has in the future of Montego Bay and the west," he said.

"This city has been infused with long-awaited first-world auto industry quality and standards," added Brennan.

With an expected growth in the local automotive sector, ATL sees itself at the forefront through its partnerships with the likes of Honda and Volkswagen, Europe's leading vehicle manufacturer.

Incidentally VW, the German auto giant with affiliate brands such as Audi, Bentley, Porsche and Lamborghini in its stable, has working plans to become the world's leading vehicle manufacturer in eight years' time.

Already VW has surpassed General Motors and has world number-one seller Toyota firmly set in its crosshairs.

In the meantime Audi, sister to the VW, has reported robust sales for the first half of the year, posting record figures in the tough US market.

Three weeks ago, Audi revealed a 27 per cent year-to-date increase in the US where 56,257 units of the premium brand were sold — the first time ever. Overall, the Audi brand is growing faster than BMW, Mercedes Benz and Lexus in the USA.

"Driving the new Audis is equivalent to driving a dream," quipped the elder Stewart.

And the VW Golf, a top seller in Latin America, has racked up repeated Car-of-the-Year awards in North America.

With Jamaica's apparent love for sports utility vehicles (SUVs), ATL Autohaus has positioned itself to provide a vehicle suitable for every taste and segment.

The VW Tiguan, a small SUV, especially holds high expectation based on its finish and handling.

"It is the only vehicle in its class with a seven-speed sequential gearbox and 2.0 Litre diesel engine," commented Brian Stevenson, managing director of ATL Autohaus. "You have to drive it to see the quality, it is so much higher than anything in its class."

"We are so happy to bring ATL Autohaus to Montego Bay and are even more excited and positive about the prospects for our brands," Stevenson emphasised.

That the Honda brand will be available under the same roof is particularly pleasing to David Rosen, managing director, ATL Motors, which has won the Honda dealership of the year for two consecutive years.

"We will be able to bring our tradition of unparalleled service and customer care closer to our customers in western Jamaica," said Rosen. "Added to that will be a state-of-the-art showroom, service and parts departments for Honda, an unbeatable brand in its class. This facility in Montego Bay is undeniably one of the most positive thrusts Jamaica's automotive industry has had in years."

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