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Hitting the accelerator

The automotive industry has bounced back nicely from the recession, and Randolph Henderson Jr., who goes by Randy, is doing his part to see that it stays that way, at least at a local level.

“The market in new-vehicle sales has been on a steady incline for the last several years, and we’ve been enjoying some of that,” said Henderson, president and owner of Webster’s Henderson Ford. “Our used-vehicle sales have been stable; service and parts sales have been stable.”

The biggest growth area, though, has been in fleet sales. The dealership had been working with state and local government and commercial entities to provide fleet vehicles off and on for a decade, but more consistently in the last four years.

Indeed, revenues at the dealership—which offers Ford and the wheelchair-accessible MV1—have increased from $36 million in 2012 to $65.2 million last year. Through the first eight months this year the company has posted sales of $57 million, Henderson said, ahead of sales in the same time period last year.

“I give kudos to all our staff because everyone has pulled together with dealing with growing pains and working out the logistics of the level of growth we’ve enjoyed over the last year and a half or so,” Henderson said. “We couldn’t have done it without a full, dedicated staff who join together across department lines to do whatever we need to get done to keep the ball rolling.”

Henderson, who said it has been a blessing to experience such growth, employs 47 full-time staffers and 43 part-time workers, compared with 46 full-time and four part-time employees three years ago. He said he has several vacancies that, if filled, would bring full-time employment at the dealership to more than 50.

“Our industry is challenged with (a lack of) technicians,” Henderson said of the vacancies at his facility. “That’s the biggest industrywide challenge that really impacts us very strongly, is the aging of the seasoned technicians and people who are retiring or going to other fields, and not enough young talent to backfill those positions.”

Despite the challenge, Henderson expects to grow full-time staff in the coming year, in particular in service and sales.

Henderson has been in the automotive industry since becoming a car salesman in 1982. In his first year of sales, he was named salesperson of the month five times. In 1994 he opened his first Chrysler and Dodge dealership in Ohio.

In 1997 he and his family moved to Rochester, where he purchased Webster Chrysler Jeep Inc. as part of an agreement with Chrysler to move to a larger market. He purchased Webster Ford and the former Doan Lincoln-Mercury/Nissan dealerships as well, though he has since divested all but the Ford dealership.

Henderson said the company’s recent success has been a product of a strong client base and a lot of repeat business and referrals.

“We try our best to treat our clients like family. That’s our motto,” he said.

Excellent customer service is the key to repeat business, General Manager Darryl Owens said.

“After we sell the car, that’s when we kick into gear,” Owens added. “We treat our customers with equity. We’re there taking care of them.”

Owens also said that while he would not call technology a challenge, it is something everyone in the dealership knows they must stay on top of to be an industry leader.

“The automobile business has continued to evolve. There’s a lot of technology going into our products,” he said. “Customers are more aware of what’s going on. The big thing is making sure our people are educated so we can keep our customers involved when they come in. And make sure they’re aware of the latest products and technology Ford has to offer.”

In addition to a loyal clientele, employees are a source of Henderson Ford’s strength, Owens said.

“Our team atmosphere and working together as one has really made us better just by understanding and treating our employees the way we want to be treated,” he said.

And as for the future, Owens said Henderson Ford’s goal is to be the best place to work for and the best place to shop in the market.

#2 Henderson Ford
Automobile dealership
2015 ranking: 2
Founded: 2001
Top executive: Randolph Henderson Jr., president and owner
Location: Webster
Employees: 47
Website: www.hendersonfamilyford.com

Employment:
2012: 46
2013: 44
2014: 49
2015: 47

10/30/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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