A mere two years ago, Jaguar Freeport and Land Rover of Freeport did something unique. They became one.
The new dealership, Jaguar Land Rover of Freeport, is now an industry leader. The dealership features a new conceptual design, which was created just for the Jaguar and Land Rover brands. The 35,000-square-foot shop is perfect for the high-end vehicles, with a 15-car showroom, a 22-bay service squad and three-lane service area.
Since Jaguar Land Rover of Freeport opened, Dealer Principal Jack Weidinger has been thrilled with its success. No stranger to the industry, Weidinger remains as excited today about all the prospects that a dealership of this magnitude will continue to bring to the South Shore’s economy, just like he was when the idea was first conceptualized.
Jaguar Land Rover of Freeport, located at 146 Sunrise Hwy. in Freeport, is one of Jaguar’s leading dealerships.
Jaguar, one of the premier manufacturers in the world, was founded in 1922 by William Lyons. Lyons did not originally start his work under the Jaguar name, but as the Swallow Sidecar Company. Thirteen years after Swallow Sidecar Company’s founding, he created the SS Jaguar, leading the company to be renamed in 1945 as Jaguar Cars due to its success.
Decades later, in 1990, Jaguar became part of Ford Motor Company in a major acquisition. Ford also acquired Land Rover from 2000 to 2008. Then, the two were sold to the India-based Tata Motors, creating a subsidiary known as Jaguar Land Rover Limited. It would mean that under Tata Motors, Jaguar Cars Limited would be its own company, and likewise for Land Rover.
In 2013, parent company Tata Motors fully merged them to become Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC to combine operations, rather than two separate companies.
We spoke with Tony Anton, general manager of Jaguar Land Rover of Freeport, to find out what has made this dealership so successful, what the future holds for it and much more.
What are some of the highlights that you’ve had with this dealership?
We started out as a Jaguar Land Rover dealership two years ago. We went from a 3,500-square-foot showroom to a 35,000-square-foot dealership. Jaguar was 100 percent of our business. Now, 75 percent of the business is Land Rover. For all dealers in this area, where leasing is a prevalent form of finance, 75 percent of the business is repeated lease business. They leased a car three years ago and they come back to get another one. We have none of that for Land Rover, so it’s pretty exciting to be growing and finding clients without that. A year ago, we were averaging about 75 new cars a month. Now, we’re over 100. Up until December of last year, we didn’t have a pre-owned department. We were doing one or two pre-owned cars a month. Now, we’re averaging about 25 certified pre-owned Land Rovers and Jaguars a month. Our service department is staffed up with some spectacular technicians. When we sold our dealership for Jaguar in Great Neck, I picked up a sales manager, a service manager and a bunch of other key employees that have made the machine run at a much smoother pace. We’re getting things to run well here. At this point, everything is going really well. I would expect that in a year from now, when we start having the people we’ve leased to come back, we’ll be delivering 200 cars between pre-owned and new.
What led this dealership to grow so rapidly the last two years?
The brand-new facility, which is the new Jaguar and Land Rover design, attracts a lot of attention. There had not been a Land Rover dealer on the south shore in more than a decade. People from here have been traveling a long distance to purchase and service their cars. The convenience is just fabulous. A lot of people on the south shore either had to go to the north shore, out east or even across the bridge to get to a dealer. Now, we’re here. We offer free pickup and delivery for people who purchase and service here. That makes it easier for a lot of people. 20 years ago, when we opened the first Jaguar dealership on the south shore, it helped refresh the neighborhood. The whole area is really growing, and that helps everyone.
What can this dealership grow on?
Part of the challenge has been what to order and what to stock. We know the Jaguar brand very well. Jack Weidinger’s grandfather started the first Jaguar dealership in the United States in 1938. We really have a handle on that brand. We were so new to the Land Rover and Range Rover brand that it took a while to figure out what color combinations, equipment combinations, volume levels of which models we should have in stock. We wanted to have what people have on their shopping list. We figured that out. It’s doing well. The manufacturer works on a turn-and-earn basis, so the more you sell, the more cars they give you to sell. It helps our upward trajectory.
Previously, we discussed the I-PACE and the many features that it provides. What other vehicles are popular?
The I-PACE is popular for Jaguar. The F-PACE is our mid-sized crossover and that is by far the most popular in the Jaguar brand. The E-PACE is a smaller version of that car that is starting to take hold now. On the Land Rover side, the Range Rover Sport and the full-sized Range Rover are actually our volume and most expensive cars. The Sport is popular. The full-sized seven-seater Discovery, which is the car that replaced our LR3 and LR4, is starting to gain popularity with those folks. The new Velar is absolutely gorgeous.