"Once you get on these rural routes, they get beat up," Machnik said. "We've heard from our customers that if they do order a new vehicle, they regret it just because of how much of a pounding they take. So we're here for them."
The retailer was founded in 2007 and was able to weather the Great Recession before outgrowing its first warehouse in nearby Spring Arbor. It moved to its current location in Michigan Center in 2013.
U.S. Drive Right's original owners decided to move on from the business in 2015, selling their assets to Machnik, an investment adviser by trade, his mother, also an investment adviser, and his father, who had worked as U.S. Drive Right's certified public accountant.
"I looked at it a little bit and I said to my dad, 'Why don't we consider [buying] it?' He said, 'No, I don't want to do that,' " Machnik recalled. "But I wore him down over a period of time."
The new owners turned over most of the staff to improve efficiency and quality. But the company's reputation as the go-to place for right-hand-drive Cherokees remained.
"It's a huge market that we've not fully penetrated yet," Machnik said. "There are a lot of rural postal carriers out there."
Getting those Cherokees available for purchase is a process that can take up to six months, and it begins by identifying Jeep Cherokees with low mileage throughout Japan. Machnik said Cherokees are seen as status symbols by many urban drivers in Japan and are driven limited miles before the owner moves on to another vehicle. Once the Jeep enters the used market it is bought and shipped stateside.
"They come to us with very low miles on them," Machnik said. "Our broker in Japan knows exactly what we need. The Jeep Cherokee happens to be a vehicle that just lasts a long time."
Once the Cherokees arrive, they are subject to tests from the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which determine whether they are up to U.S. regulatory standards. Newer Cherokees are also subject to emissions testing from the EPA.
U.S. Drive Right can have dozens of Cherokees at its facility at a time, but it is typical for only a handful to be on sale because of how long testing can take. Waiting for weeks or months on testing can be "a killer," Machnik said.
"If we were relying on vehicles for just-in-time inventory, there's no way this would work."
When the Jeeps are back at the U.S. Drive Right facility, a team of mechanics works on them, tearing them down as necessary to make the vehicles meet regulatory standards and to make them "look and smell" like new.
The company says it has sold more than 2,100 vehicles. That's thanks in large part to postal carriers who search for right-hand-drive Cherokees on the Web, Machnik said. The company's website proclaims: "No Carrier 'Left' Behind."