The owner of the oldest black-owned dealership in the country is scheduled to become the owner of one of the largest U.S. Jaguar dealerships.
Nathan Conyers, 66, owner of Conyers Riverside Ford in Detroit, already is scouting for sites in the Detroit suburbs of Farmington Hills, Novi and Plymouth.
He said his store will be around 20,000 to 22,000 square feet, decorated with wood and marble, and have a planning volume of about 500 vehicles annually. That is a very large store by the standards of Jaguar Cars North America, said Jaguar spokesman Mark Miller.
When Conyers' store opens in the second half of 2000, Jaguar will have two big stores in Southeast Michigan, both run by minority dealers.
Jaguar's largest dealer in North America is Irma Elder, president of Jaguar of Troy, in Troy, Mich., another Detroit suburb. Elder, who is Hispanic, is the owner of Troy Motors Inc., one of the largest woman-owned businesses in the country, according to Working Woman magazine.
Jaguar of Troy says it sold 824 Jaguars in 1998, and Sales Manager Rob Elder says he expects sales to rise to 1,300 this year with the introduction of the S-Type.
Miller said Jaguar believes metropolitan Detroit can support another dealership because the area is growing and because the company expects to attract a new, younger customer base with its S-Type, the recently launched mid-level luxury car, and its entry-level X400, scheduled to be introduced in 2001.
Jaguar, which sold 22,503 units in the United States in 1998, expects sales almost to double in 1999, Miller said. The company sold 5,063 units in the first three months of 1999.
Jaguar had 130 dealers as of Jan. 1, according to the Automotive News Dealer Census. Counting Conyers, 10 are minorities.
Conyers will celebrate 30 years as a dealer in 2000. He said the time is right for him to expand his business, and the location is excellent.
'Jaguar is on the upswing; the industry has been on solid ground for six years,' said Conyers, who retails 1,200 to 1,300 new Fords annually. 'All we have to do is follow the yellow brick road.'
Conyers said the store will take styling cues from a prototype dealership Jaguar and Aston Martin Lagonda of North America Inc. are planning in Mission Viejo, Calif., in 2000. Jaguar and Aston Martin are subsidiaries of Ford Motor Co. The prototype store is to be elegant with touches such as original art, Persian rugs and coffee table books.
Conyers is the second black dealer to get a Jaguar store. David Stephens, owner of Falls Lincoln-Mercury in Wichita Falls, Texas, was the first. Stephens' store, Millennium Motorcars in Plano, Texas, is scheduled to open in May.