George Grinzewitsch Jr., chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board, says Mercedes dealers are overwhelmingly happy with the franchise, which just had its sixth year of record U.S. sales.
Grinzewitsch has an exclusive Mercedes store and a Jaguar-Saab dual in Sacramento, Calif. He also has a service-only Mercedes business in Rocklin, Calif., and he is adding a Mercedes outlet, in El Dorado Hills, Calif.
Grinzewitsch didn't bring it up, but a few Mercedes dealers in markets where Mercedes is adding stores are hopping mad. Mercedes-Benz USA LLC has about 310 U.S. dealerships, including 196 that are exclusive. Seven years ago, it had 362 U.S. dealerships, with only 116 exclusives.
Mercedes spent years reducing the dealer body - by attrition and by encouraging dealers to buy one another out. In some markets, the factory bought out points and closed them.
Last year, Paul Halata, Mercedes-Benz USA CEO, reversed his field and said Mercedes will add at least 16 dealerships by the end of 2003. That's fine with dealers such as Grinzewitsch, who is adding a second point. But a couple of other dealers complain that they now face competition in what they consider their territory.
Staff Reporter Jim Henry interviewed Grinzewitsch.