LOVE. It's Why We've Been Your Subaru Dealer For Over 30 Years
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Webster Groves Subaru, located at 7982 Big Bend Blvd in Webster Groves, MO, is your premier retailer of new and used Subaru vehicles. Our dedicated sales staff and top-trained technicians are here to make your auto shopping experience fun, easy and financially advantageous. Please utilize our various online resources and allow our excellent network of people to put you in your ideal Subaru vehicle or the pre-owned car, truck or SUV of your dreams today!
St.Louis Post Dispatch
They've been friends for a quarter of a century introduced to one another by their wives 25 years ago-and, as close friends often do, Joe Fichter and Carl Meyer over the years planned and dreamed. "We'd get together and have a barbeque, have a few beers, and we'd say, 'You know, one of these days, we're going to go into business together,'" Fichter said.
That dream made the transition from wish to reality on July 12, 2002, when Fichter, 49, and Meyer, 55 finalized their agreement to buy Webster Groves Subaru-Isuzu-Suzuki from Ted Biewend and his son, Andre.The deal, in the words of Fichter, was something of a "no-brainer." Ted Biewend wanted to retire and Andre was leaving the retail car business. Both men were anxious to have Fichter, a trusted and valued employee for nearly 30 years, take over the company they had built and nurtured for more than three decades.
"About two years ago, we had a breakfast meeting," said Fichter, the dealership's parts and service director for the past 20 years, "They wanted to give me the first opportunity to buy the business since I was, gee, honestly, almost like family. Then I called Carl." Meyer whose background in retail automotive sales said he was delighted to cast his lot with his old friend.
"I was ready," Meyer said. "This made sense. We were able to buy a going business that Joe knew inside and out. You know, sometimes you buy an existing business and you find later there are skeletons. There were no skeletons here. I felt very comfortable." That comfort level was enhanced by the partnership with Fichter, Meyer said.
"We've been friends a long time," he said, adding with a mock serious look at his partner, "Until we did this!" Both men laugh in the easy way friends do. In a serious vein, Fichter noted that the partnership works on two levels-the trust and respect that genuine friends enjoy, and the finely meshing backgrounds of the two new owners.
"My background is parts and service," Fichter said. "His background is sales. It works out beautifully."Also working beautifully is the staff of Webster Groves Subaru-Isuzu-Suzuki, 7982 Big Bend in Webster Groves. Though the retail car business sometimes has a reputation for high turnover, Fichter and Meyer's team seemingly has the stability of a dynasty.
Among the long time employees are Aleta Greene-Taylor, office manager (28 years); Larry Hamlett, service technician (27 years; Pearl Perkins of the parts department (26 years); Terry Sparks of the maintenance crew (20 years); Cheryl Grissom, warranty administrator (19 years); Neal Sanders, service manager (16 years); and Duane Langvardt, parts manager (10 years).
"Like Carl says, one of the benefits of this dealership is the people," Fichter said. "We've got 15-year, 20-year, 30-year people. Really it shows you what a straight shooter Ted was." It's a trait Ted and Andre Biewend also exhibited in their business dealings with Fichter and Meyer, helping guide the way through banker's demands, vehicle franchise requirements, legal details, and more Fichter said.
"The Biewends were the ones who set it up for us," he said "They were wonderfully helpful."
The initial outlay for the business - neither partner would give specific figures other than to say it was a "$2 million plus" deal is just the beginning. Fichter and Meyer have plans to give the dealership a facelift."We've got a new façade coming the Subaru corporate look and we're going to remodel the showroom, too," Fichter said. "The work will start in the fall."
Not that the building appears to need much attention. The glass-walled showroom is bright and airy feeling and the 10 bay service department, staffed by nine technicians, four parts-department employees and three service administrators, is astoundingly clean.
"This really impresses, people," Fichter said during a stroll through the service garage. "They say, 'Gee, this is the cleanest shop in town.' That was Ted. He'd come in and say 'Joe, there's dirt on the floor!' and I'd say 'But, Ted, it's an auto service department!'" Fichter laughs at the memory, recalling that fastidiousness, which the new owners carry today.
For the past several years, Webster Groves Subaru-Isuzu-Suzuki has typically sold about 900 cars a year, Fichter said, with those sales about evenly split between new and used units.On-hand stock usually totals about 130 new 2015-2016 vehicles and about 60 to 70 used cars, he said.
Those cars are stored mostly out of sight so the few new and used vehicles visible from Big Bend reflect only a small portion of the dealership's actual stock. A low-lying lot across Big Bend and another farther behind the dealership contain many more vehicles that customers can inspect.
Among those vehicles is a wide selection in the hottest segment in the car business, the sport utility. The list at Webster Groves includes the Subaru Outback, Forester and soon-to-debut Baja SUV/pickup/wagon hybrid, the Isuzu Trooper, Rodeo, Amigo, and Axiom and the Suzuki Vitara, Grand Vitara and XL-7. There's also the new Suzuki Aerio sedan and sport wagon.
Sales of those vehicles are conducted in a wonderfully casual setting, with the store's sales people in open-neck polo shirts.It's a recipe that's served the dealership well for more than 30 years - and likely will for another 30 and more in the dedicated hands of owners Joe Fichter and Carl Meyer.