Park City dealership changes hands, remains local |

Park City dealership changes hands, remains local

John Mecham, center, stands with Legacy Auto Group dealership operations manager for Park City Tom Sly, left, and Legacy Auto Group President Kirk Bengtzen. Photo: Courtesy Legacy Auto Group.

"The long and the short of it is that they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse," says John Mecham, long-time and soon-to-be former owner of Park City’s John Mecham Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep dealership on Rasmussen Road.

April 1, the dealership will become part of Legacy Auto Group dealerships, a relatively young Utah-based family of dealerships established in 2005.

According to Legacy Auto Group President Kirk Bengtzen, the Park City acquisition follows a purchase of a dealership in Nebraska in January, and coincides with an opening of a new dealership in Las Vegas.

"We’ve expanded quite a bit this year and the last year and a half we’ve acquired six dealerships," he said. "We’d prefer to stay in Utah but you know, Larry Miller and the Garffs kind of have them all gobbled up already I’m young. I’m only 34, so I’ve got a lot of time."

Bengtzen says the name "Legacy" has to do with his hopes to continue to grow and give loyal employees the opportunities for advancement. He can relate to people who build their careers from the ground up: a self-described "car nut," Bengtzen began selling cars at the age of 18 and worked his way up, but confesses, "it was very difficult for me to finagle an opportunity for me to buy into a dealership I know how difficult it is first-hand."

"I think there aren’t enough business owners out there that care as much about what their employees want and when you’re not born with a lot of money, it’s very difficult to move your way up," Bengzten adds. "I don’t plan on stopping with just the Dodge Chrysler Dealership I’m planning to acquire some more franchises and also try to bring in other manufacturers that aren’t available in the Park City area I’m working on three or four at the moment."

Bengtzen says the changes he will make to the dealership will have more to do with his policies and processes than with the staff.

"Every store I acquire, I’ve been able to keep 80 or 90 percent of employees, because I ask them to give me a chance and most of them find out that we’re a fantastic company to work for," he explains.

According to Bengtzen, he is known for turning small dealerships into high-volume dealerships. The first change he will make, he says, is to triple the current inventory at the Park City store.

"The key is, a lot of smaller dealerships never believe they’ll be high-volume, so they try to make as much money as they can on every single car, where the way I look at it is, if I can prove to everyone I can sell for less profit and go for the volume, people’s word-of-mouth gets it out," he says.

Bengtzen also believes in being involved in the community. For more than seven years, Bengtzen has been involved with "A Christmas Wish," an annual event during which Legacy Auto Group donates and raises money, in part by partnering with a radio station, to purchase gifts for families in need.

"A Christmas Wish" was partly how Bengtzen got to know Tom Sly, a Park City resident who will be managing partner and general manager for Legacy’s new dealership in Park City.

Sly, who worked in broadcasting for 25 years and was instrumental in creating the 11-channel radio station company, Clear Channel, helped Bengtzen come up with the charitable event.

"Kirk was a client and I noticed everything he touched was successful. He truly has a gift," Sly explains. "Let’s just say we have similar philosophies outstanding customer services, high-performing sales organizations and service organizations and the commitment to creating an environment for our employees."

Sly says that since he grew up in Cincinnati, washing cars at his best friend’s father’s dealership, he has dreamed of having his own dealership. He left a position as chief operating officer in February of 2005 to work for Bengtzen.

The opportunity at Legacy will allow Sly to work near his family and in the town and community he says he’s been "a raving fan of" since 1997.

Though Sly has confidence in the company, and his own abilities to be a hands-on manager and car dealer, he admits that he has a challenge ahead of him.

"I can tell you that it’s clear that about 50 percent of people who have bought Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep products that live in Park City, have gone somewhere else to buy their car," he says. "We will need to work really hard to communicate to our community to tell them why they should buy locally and that we can certainly beat any price anywhere else."

This April, Parkites can look forward to a grand re-opening shortly following the opening of Bengtzen and Sly’s Legacy dealership on 2700 Rasmussen Road.

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