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Mercedes plans new round of dealership employee training

Steve Cannon, right, CEO of Mercedes- Benz USA, chats with Charlton Holmes of Holmes Auto Group in Shreveport, La., after the Mercedes make meeting. Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS

NEW ORLEANS -- Mercedes-Benz USA is launching a new round of training for dealers and their employees this year, continuing the focus on customer service, dealers and company executives said.

Training will begin midyear at the Mercedes-Benz Leadership Academy for dealers, general managers and key employees from sales, parts and service. A location hasn't been set.

About 3,500 dealership employees will be trained at the academy in phases, said Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, after the make meeting. "All the leadership teams of all 362 dealerships will have to invest in training," he said.

Another major program, the Mercedes-Benz Immersion Center, also will begin midyear at the factory in Tuscaloosa, Ala. This year, about 5,000 dealership employees will attend a two-day program that focuses on driving, the brand's culture and learning about the factory, Cannon said.

Over the next few years, about 20,000 dealership employees will have attended the immersion program.

"It's even good for long-term employees. We will send all different levels of the dealership staff," said Joseph Agresta Jr., owner of Benzel-Busch Motor Car Corp. in Englewood, N.J., and chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board.

Mercedes-Benz didn't disclose targets but said U.S. sales will set a record in 2014, Agresta said. Last year, Mercedes-Benz was the top-selling luxury brand in the United States, with sales up 14 percent to 312,528 units.

You can reach Diana T. Kurylko at -- Follow Diana T. on Twitter: @dianakurylko

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