In 1967, Dominic Longo opened El Monte Toyota in suburban Los Angeles with five employees. By the end of that year he was the top-selling Toyota dealer in the United States -- a title he never relinquished.
By 1984, Longo Toyota was selling more than 15,000 cars and trucks a year. That total was more than twice as high as his closest industry competitor, a neighboring Ford dealership.
"I attribute most of our success to the little things we've done as a result of suggestions from customers," Longo said in a 1985 interview, soon before his death at age 65.
Longo's mantra was repeat business. His was among the first dealerships to employ a customer relations manager. His service stalls were open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. He forbade salesmen from wearing tinted glasses so that customers could look them in the eyes. He even bought back cars from unhappy customers, usually a no-no in auto retailing.