New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - October 29, 1991, New Braunfels, Texas
HeraW-Zf/lwng, New Braunfels, Texas Tuesday, October 29, 1991 Peg# 5Stories !A LOOK AT SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSES IN NEW BRAUNFELS AND COMAL COUNTY
Vision and risk-taking part of Bluebonnet’s strategy
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By DAVID 8ULUENB Editor and PubWahar
The Bluebonnet Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealership in New Braun-fell ll a luocess story not only here, but throughout the lute and, indeed, nationally.
Hie dealership has been honored for the past two consecutive years as a member of Ford Motor Co.'s prestigious Top IOO Club.
That honor means that Bluebonnet is one of the giant automaker's top IOO dealerships nationally in both sales volume and in customer satisfaction ratings.
Bluebonnet President Gary Kah-lig came to the dealership as its general sales manager in September of 1986. In the year before his arrival, the dealership sold 1,500 new and used can and trucks.
In 1987, 1988 and 1989 Bluebonnet sold more retail Ford trucks than any other dealer in the state.
And last year more than 5,000 cars and trucks were sold by the New Braunfels Ford dealership.
"We have a good sales force and we aggressively advertise and merchandise," says Kahlig.
There's strategy involved, too. Ford Motor Co. allocates vehicles to Its dealers on the basis of past sales. The more vehicles a dealer has sold in put years, the more he Is allotted in the current year.
But a dealer can "pus" on allocated vehicles, too.
When he came to New Braunfels, Kahlig immediately set about buying up the allocated vehicles "passed" by other dealers.
In 1986, Kahlig recalls, the local dealership bought more than 200 Ford trucks “passed" by other dealers.
And then he stuck his neck out by investing a lot of money In aggressive advertising and by selling the vehicles at significantly lower profit margins than other dealers found acceptable.
“Sometimes we'll do a deal even if we don't make any money just because we want the volume," Kahlig explained last week.
The strategy worked.
Today Bluebonnet's inventory is unmatched, even by many dealers in major metropolitan areu.
That permits heavy volume sales and that heavy volume permits excellent pricing of Bluebonnet vehicles.
But there wk more to Kahlig’s strategy.
Pint, he decided that his specialty wu going to be Ford F-seriea pickup trucks.
And then he went a step further. “We specialized in buying trucks that appealed to the average person. A lot of dealerships will carry inventory that’s appealing, but it's not affordable."
And here Don Belton, who coordinates advertising and public nil-few Braunfels dc
dona for the New Braunfels dealership steps into the conversation.
*JThe bottom line," Bel ken says, "is that Bluebonnet's success is (hie to Oary Kahlig's vision and risk taking.
And that success has fostered ever greater success.
Today Bluebonnet's specialization includes not only Ford's sales leading F-series, but also other members of the Ford truck lines — Aerostar vans, Ranger pickups. Explorers and conversion vans.
As this is written. Bluebonnet’s inventory includes more than IOO conversion vans.
“That's the largest inventory in the state,” Kahlig points out.
More than 35 percent of all trucks sold in the New Braunfels area are sold by Bluebonnet.
But just as impressively, 35-40 percent of all Ford trucks sold in the San Antonio market are sold by Bluebonnet.
Bluebonnet now encompasses seven separate facilides in New Braunfels, including the city's largest body shop, ire largest volume service department, which is staffed by 18 trained technicians and three service advisors, and a facility on 1-35 that Kahlig “subcontracted all by himself in between selling cars." The dealership's make ready facility now located on Walnut Avenue. Kahlig says, probably will soon be replaced by a new facility located nearer the Seguin Avenue location.
All of that brings a lot of people to New Braunfels from othercom-munities, people who generally are here for at least one meal and who shop at other New Braunfels stores and shops while they are here.
Bluebonnet employs 130 people and meets an annual payroll of $3.6 million.
Gary Kahlig, the man around whom all of this evolves, makes his home in Oruene with his wife and 3-year-old daughter, who is a student it SU. Peter & Paul Catholic Church.
He is a native of San Antonio and graduated from Antonian High School in 1973 before going on to earn his bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Austin in 1977.
After he left college, Kahlig worked as a freight salesman for five years for a San Antonio area common carrier firm.
Then he joined a major Ford dealer, staying there for slightly more than two yean and moving during that time from salesman to sales manager then to vehicle director for the dealer's Hyundai franchise.
He was the top salesman within the dealership's organization for 18 out of his 19 months there, selling 25 cars in his first month, a feat almost unheard of within the industry.
Some would call Kahlig a workaholic. He ii at the dealership by 8:30 a.m. every day and seldom
does he leave before 8 p.m.
But he still Ands time to hunt and to play Canyon Lake aboard the 21-foot Chria Craft boat he won about a year ago "for selling Fords."
Gary Kahlig, above, president of Bluebonnet, his used vision and risk taking to make the
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New Braunfels-oaseo motor company a success. In 1067, 1966 and 1969 Bluebonnet •old more retail Ford trucks than any other dealer in the state. Kurt Guenther, left. Ie the dealership's general sales manager. (Photos by David Sultans)
Navel Ehrhardt la Bluebonnet's service manager. In the photo, he gives a customer the keys to one of the Bluebonnet Body Shop manager Bo Goodson is pictured with one of the shop s service technicians,
cars owned by the dealership for use by sen/ice customers.EDITOR'S NOTE:
Suoomi Stories Is an "advertorial" feature: stories about successful businesses which ere sponsored In pert by the businesses themselves. Suocees Stories wig appear In the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung through Tuesday, Oct. a. Successful New Braunfels and arse businesses which will be featured In the series Include:BECKER MOTOR COMPANY
647 8outh Seguin • New Braunfels • 625-3463BLUEBONNET MOTORS INC.
316 N. Seguin • New Braunfels • 626-6011CENTURY 21 NORRIS REALTY, INC.
604 S. Seguin » New Braunfels • 626 6061DON MAXWELL CHEVROLET
386 W. San Antonio St. • New Braunfels • 626-3451HOFFMANN AGENCIES
447 S. Seguin • New Braunfels • 625-7502KRAFT MOBILETEL
679 S. Seguin • New Braunfels • 629-7466KRUEGER MAZDA
South IH-36 • New Braunfels • 620-1166LAFARGE CORP.
Selma A Wald Roads P.O. Box 311607 • New Braunfels • 626-7336MILT FERGUSON MOTOR CO.
699 W. Sen Antonio St • New Braunfels • 626-2361MINNESOTA MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE CO.
1000 N. Walnut • New Braunfels • 926-2366TXI CEMENT COMPANY
RI. I Box 109 • New Braunfels • "ExceHanoe through teem walk"