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Relationship with credit union drives business at car dealership

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When Michael Salas purchased Poway Chevrolet last year, he and his staff decided to turn the 15-acre car dealership — which sold about 40 cars a month — back into a family business.

In less than a year, the car dealership has become a fixture in the community and a destination for savvy car buyers, selling more than 120 cars a month, with a goal of 250. The key to their success, they believe, is that they treat their customers and employees as a family.

In the 1950s and into the 1970s, General Motors led the industry in building millions of low-cost cars, achieving nearly 60 percent of U.S. auto sales, but has dropped to 30 percent of the auto market because of new challenges, such as decreased productivity, rising costs of employees health benefits and the demand for cleaner, safer and more fuel-efficient vehicles. Poway Chevrolet is looking at the challenges head-on and expanding their business by being accountable for their own success, creating a family-friendly environment and by taking advantage of the services provide by San Diego-based USA Federal Credit Union.

One well-kept secret of many successful business owners is that credit unions often give small business owners better service when larger financial institutions are too busy with larger corporations.

“We consider USA Federal Credit Union a part of our employee benefits package,” said Mark Lind, director of Fixed Operations at Poway Chevrolet. “Most of our employees are switching their personal accounts to USA Federal Credit Union because we are convinced that they can provide all of us with stability and financial planning.”

Jennifer Ventimiglia, Vice President of Member Business Services at USA Federal Credit Union, said that she met Lind at a Poway Chamber of Commerce mixer and that the full range of financial services for businesses and the personalized attention USA Federal Credit Union offers impressed him immediately.

“We were very excited to bring them on board,” Ventimiglia said. “We are confident in our ability to provide them with the same high level of service that we provide to all of our members. We strive to provide solutions for our members and we look forward to a long and successful relationship with Poway Chevrolet.”

Lind stressed that next to saving time and receiving better customer service, another advantage to having both personal and business accounts with the San Diego-based credit union is that both types of accounts can contribute to securing future loans and services. He is recommending USA Federal Credit Union to his customers as well as his employees.

“We are reaching out to the Latino community and offering products suited to their diverse needs,” Lind said. “And knowing our credit union stands behind this decision is very important to us.”

In a recent report conducted by Filene Research Institute, published in tandem with the Robles study, shows the growing Latino population has financial needs that are becoming more acute, complex and underserved and that Hispanics will account for 13 percent of new car buyers by 2020.

Lind believes in creating relationships with community organizations that have strong ties to the local Latino population and that his credit union is one of the driving forces behind the success of Poway Chevrolet.

“A credit union is only as strong as its membership, and I want us to work as a team to make all of us a success,” Lind said. “We want to be the best Chevrolet dealership in San Diego, but it’s important for us to do the right thing at all times. Michael Salas and his family take great pride in the community and I think that USA Federal Credit Union takes pride in their business. Together we make a great team.”

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