JACKSON, Miss. - A month ago when Mark Escude got the letter from Nissan North America Inc. asking him and all other Nissan dealers to upgrade their Nissan stores in preparation for a new era of sales, Escude thought the idea made some sense.
Now it makes a lot of sense to him.
The 44-year-old Escude is the only Nissan dealer in Jackson, Miss., the market where the automaker revealed last week it will spend $930 million to build its second U.S. auto plant. Nissan will employ up to 4,000 people in and around Jackson, the only auto plant in the state.
To be precise, there are two Nissan stores in the Jackson market. Escude happens to own both of them.
'Yes, you could say I'm pretty excited to welcome Nissan to town,' said Escude, who took up the franchise in 1985. 'It's a good time to be a Nissan dealer in Jackson, Mississippi.'
Escude has not worked out the details, but he will be investing in both his Nissan stores in preparation for Nissan's coming economic presence in the market.
'We'll be making the dealerships a little nicer, trying to make the facilities a little more unique,' he said. 'We'll be doing some things to try to make our customers feel a little more special.
'Factory customers tend to expect a little more than other customers,' Escude said. 'We want them to feel like they're getting what they expect.'
In the weeks before Nissan's new factory announcement, the company sent letters to its 1,071 U.S. dealers, urging them to make their stores exclusive. The letter caught Escude - along with about half of the rest of the Nissan dealer body - with a shared store. Escude also sells Toyotas, Mitsubishis and Daewoos. One of his Nissan stores services Daewoo cars. 'I can tell you one thing now,' he said on the factory push for exclusivity, 'I'm not going to be servicing Daewoos out of the back of my Nissan store any more.'
Escude expects that decision to make his costs go up. But considering the likely new wave of business, he says, it will be a modest price to pay.
'This is big,' the retailer said of the factory plans. 'This would be a big deal anywhere, but it's an especially big deal here in Mississippi, especially for me.
'We're going to do just fine.'