To an outsider, this might not seem like the best moment to be chairman of the Isuzu dealer council. U.S. sales are half what they were three years ago. Isuzu Motors Ltd. of Japan is sloshing in red ink, and the company is retreating from its ambitious business plan of sourcing its entire U.S. product line from American factories.
But dealer Bob Scena sees things differently. Scena, owner of Showcase Isuzu in Bourne, Mass., thinks Isuzu is poised for a comeback.
Isuzu management in Japan and North America has taken steps to fix the company and the brand, Scena says. A business restructuring will enable Isuzu to rebuild its U.S. presence as a lean but profitable sales company. The company has drawn up new pricing and advertising for this year, and the sale of corporate assets provides enough cash to develop a new family of products.
"The Isuzu name has always meant value to the American public," Scena said, "and we have to get back to the issue of value."
Scena is in his third term as dealer council chairman. He also held the job in 1996 and 1999. His Boston-area Showcase operation also sells Nissan and Suzuki and Isuzu commercial trucks. But auto retailing was not his first career path.
"I went into furniture retailing right out of high school," Scena said. "But the furniture business can be difficult. A friend of mine talked me into selling used cars. I pretty quickly figured out that with the same amount of energy, you could make triple the money selling cars as selling furniture."
He became general manager at a local dealership in 1985 and opened his own store in 1988. Ever since, he has been an outspoken participant in Isuzu affairs. Scena spoke with Staff Reporter Lindsay Chappell.