Jon Weinzapfel, 39
Managing partner, University Mazda-Kia
Looking for a summer job after his freshman year of college in 1999, Jon Weinzapfel found his passion at “Big Billy” Barrett’s dealership in Dallas, where he trained for four months.
After finishing his training, Weinzapfel contacted friend and mentor Mark Daniels, who owned a few dealerships.
“He wouldn’t hire the green people,” Weinzapfel said. “I called him and said, ‘Hey, I know how to sell cars now,’?”
Weinzapfel worked at one of Daniels’ dealerships for a year and a half. He said Daniels inspired him to pursue a long-term career in the industry.
“I saw where it could take you if you put the hard work into it,” Weinzapfel said.
He chose to move on to gain experience and “grow up” at Group 1 Automotive, where he was promoted to general manager, a position he held for about four years.
“I worked at just about every management level for them, and they provided great training,” he said. “It was a great basis for how I run my company.”
Weinzapfel said Daniels then asked if he wanted to start looking for a store to purchase together, which they did in November 2016.
“He and I always stayed in touch as close friends,” he said. “He knew it had always been my dream to own a store.”
Weinzapfel said he thinks customers appreciate a culture of excellent treatment that “makes it feel like they’re not walking into a Kia or Mazda store.”
“Everyone is greeted the same way and shown vehicles that fit their wants and needs,” he said. No matter what kind of car the customer is interested in buying, they are given the same experience.
Every car that comes through the service department at University Mazda-Kia is washed and vacuumed. Customers who buy new and used cars from the dealership are given a VIP program with two free oil changes and tire rotations.
“That way they get used to coming into our service department and getting their car back cleaner than they left it,” Weinzapfel said.
Weinzapfel said he is eager to expand University Mazda-Kia with more brands.
“People like the way that they’re treated here," he said, "and it would be great for them to be able to shop more than two brands."
— Sarah Kominek