Jay Cimino is president of the Phil Long dealerships, the largest automotive dealerships in the Pikes Peak Region. He’s using traditional business values to push his organization toward success in the future.
How and when did you become involved in the auto business?
Under the direction of Mr. Philip Long, my good friend, I came on board as general manager of the Ford Dealership in 1975. I am privileged to have worked with Philip Long, as he was a great mentor, a true student of the industry. I embraced his legacy for creating lasting partnerships in the community as well as his tenacity for upholding his solid reputation for putting people first. This is why Phil Long Dealerships is celebrating 66 years in business with nine franchises and 25 establishments in Denver, Colorado Springs, Trinidad, and Raton, New Mexico.
What’s the secret to Phil Long’s success?
Our business, like most businesses are all about our team members. We believe in our people and invest in their futures by providing training through our Phil Long University, also by being good mentors. We believe in treating our people with respect and fairness, after all, the ultimate goal is to create long term employees. The success of the Phil Long Family of Dealerships has been and always will be the direct result of our excellent teams and they way they treat our customers concerns and challenges. It’s always about putting people first.
As the economy strengthens, are auto sales increasing, too?
Yes. The anchor of our family of dealerships has always been our Ford franchises. We have four of them between Denver and Raton. Three of them are in the top five Ford dealerships in the Region. However, our family of dealerships consists of nine franchises that represent Domestic, German, and Asian automakers. We are fortunate to have such a strong line-up of desirable, eco-friendly, cutting edge, high miles-per-gallon vehicles….all elements that make for strong sales.
Has the bankruptcy of GM and image of the American auto industry forced you to change the way you market cars?
Yes. Because of the bankruptcy, we were forced to eliminate our five Saturn dealerships, and even our Jeep Chrysler store. We also were able to get rid of franchises that were not getting a return on investment. It created an opportunity for us to refocus our energy on vehicles and technology that Americans want. Although the last year and a half was challenging, we’ve come out of it a leaner and smarter company able to offer our customers the best car buying experience in the Region.
What types of auto business challenges or opportunities are unique to Colorado Springs?
What makes Colorado Springs so unique is the large military community. We are very grateful for their sacrifices and we are privileged to be able to serve them. Nearly 60 percent of our business is made up of active duty, reserves, veterans, and their families. As a former Marine I know those sacrifices personally. It is important to me to make sure that each soldier, past and present, knows that Phil Long is where they will be treated like family and given an excellent car buying experience. Again, I go back to always putting people first.
You seem to be involved in several charitable or philanthropic endeavors. Can you tell us about some of them and why they’re important to you?
The strength of the Phil Long Family of Dealerships in such a competitive industry is the result of its ongoing commitment to Philip Long’s vision — Commitment to the community, quality customer service and exceptional value.
Our charitable focus is towards the less fortunate and homeless, youth, and our troops in need. It was very rewarding to be involved with the campaign to build the new Marion House in Colorado Springs, as its purpose is to provide the homeless and those in crisis with much needed resources for food, clothing, and education.
Since 1996 we have built 10 traditional playgrounds and 5 non-traditional playgrounds to include America the Beautiful Park, both playgrounds and the skate park in Memorial Park in Colorado Springs, to name a few. And for our Military, we have Operation Home Support, a program that provides transportation assistance for families of deployed soldiers. It’s a great program that helps the families of those who defend freedom on a daily basis with emergency transportation needs.