Randall “Randy” Essenlohr became a part of the family business unexpectedly when his father, George E., moved from New York City to Lowville to take over Essenlohr Motors Inc.
“When I graduated from college, I thought I’d be doing something like going into the F.B.I., but then my father bought the place and I thought I could help out for six months or so,” Mr. Essenlohr said.
Today, 41 years later, Mr. Essenlohr runs the Chevrolet dealership on Utica Boulevard in Lowville with his son, Marc. Marc, who his father describes as a gifted mechanic with a knack for customer service and automobiles, is in line to take over the business in the not-so-distant future.
Mr. Essenlohr said that sales of the Chevrolet brand at his dealership have improved significantly in the past year and that 2011 was great, until sales slumped in the last quarter.
“Our four-wheel-drive sales are still the strong market,” Mr. Essenlohr said. “Gas prices do have an effect on sales, but I see where people get rid of their trucks for fuel efficient cars, but those cars don’t really meet their needs so they come back to the trucks and four-wheel-drive vehicles.”
The advantages to being a small dealership when competing with major sales centers in metropolitan areas is the lack of major marketing budgets and being able to know customers by name when they show up on the lot, Mr. Essenlohr said.
“We have people come in and say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe they just gave me what I’m paying and not a payment,’” Mr. Essenlohr said. “It’s rare that car dealerships tell you what you’re going to end up paying for your vehicle. They usually attack you with the payment and you never know what you’ll be paying in the end.”
Mr. Essenlohr’s father came to Lowville from New York City to take back the dealership, which Mr. Essenlohr’s grandfather had sold to someone outside the family. In his return, Mr. Essenlohr’s father brought some knowledge for how to bring customers to smaller towns.
“It can be difficult to draw people to Lowville, there’s not a variety of services to offer that metro areas have,” Mr. Essenlohr said. “But what we do offer is certainty. We can compete price-wise and we know our customers by name, we really do.”