By Rod Lee
Courtesy of the Yankee Xpress
It becomes more apparent every day that when it comes to the Diamond Auto Group, the city of Worcester’s loss is the town of Auburn’s gain.
Since relocating from its longtime home on Park Avenue to Washington St. (Rt. 20) about ten years ago, Diamond has grown and prospered.
Heading into Presidents’ Day, which is one of the dealership’s biggest sales periods of the year, Diamond is offering “deep incentives across the board” according to General Manager Joe Simon. Indeed, at Diamond, “it’s kind of like Presidents’ Month,” Mr. Simon said, in that the offer of “an extra $3000 off on everything in stock” starts early. That means undoubtedly strong interest on the part of customers in such best sellers as Silverado, Sierra and Colorado trucks, the Equinox, the Terrain and other trucks, SUVs and cars “to make room for the 2018s, which will be unbelievable.”
Mr. Simon is in his fifth year as GM at Diamond and so although relatively new to the Massad family’s dealership he is an old hand in the business with 22 years behind him starting “right out of high school. My whole family was in the business, my dad, cousin, uncle, brother. We owned Simon Chevrolet in Woonsocket until it was bought by Tasca (Buick GMC),” he said.
Mr. Simon is not alone as a relative newbie at Diamond. Service and Parts Director Ron Caswell has been aboard for a year but like Mr. Simon is an industry veteran. “You get in this business and you can’t get out!” Mr. Caswell said, laughing. “But I love dealing with the public. You’re a problem solver.”
Diamond’s service department certainly seems to qualify in this respect. Both Mr. Simon and Mr. Caswell spoke passionately about “The Diamond Advantage,” consisting of “free oil changes, free tire rotation and free batteries for as long as you own the car if you service the vehicle you buy from Diamond here.” “People love it,” Mr. Caswell said. “It’s why our (customer) retention rate is phenomenal.”
Diamond customers also like Mr. Caswell’s goal of “thirty minutes or less for an oil change” so they can be on their way.
“These are the best of times for the automotive industry” in general with “17 million vehicles sold across all lines [in the country] last year,” which bodes well for Diamond in 2017 and 2018, Mr. Simon said. Leasing is a huge reason for this. Leasing represents 68% of Diamond’s business. “As cars and trucks get more expensive, leasing makes sense” from a budgeting standpoint, he said. “You can spend up to $70,000 for a 2500 pickup. How do you get these vehicles on the road? The manufacturers have to stand behind them” which is where leasing, which makes them easier to purchase, comes in.
Evidence of Diamond’s commitment to its property in Auburn is reflected in construction of the dealership’s Buick GMC Cadillac building a year ago, to complement its cornerstone structure featuring Chevrolet with the service garage for both showrooms situated to the rear of the complex. “We tore down a smaller building to make room” for the Buick GMC Cadillac showroom “and we needed GMC approval” for that step, Mr. Simon said. “That building is a tremendous asset” in furthering the dealership’s identity near the entrance and exit to I-395 “because we are set up off the road.” By moving to Washington St., he noted, “we have gained six acres” from what Diamond had on Park Ave. “The Massads (David, his wife Lisa and their children Ryan, Johnny and Rachel) have invested a lot of money in building this place. They’ve created a nice family atmosphere but with the size of a big store which is hard to find today.”
Another major advance is on the horizon too with Diamond’s plans to eliminate the “loop” that is Faith Avenue (a right turn off Rt. 20 just above the dealership) so that instead of wrapping around the campus the short road will connect directly with Rt. 12 to the north. Straightening out Faith Ave. while maintaining the connection between the three buildings that comprise the Diamond operation will improve accessibility and tie the entire complex together better.
“We are going to foot the bill for that [project] and it will happen within the next year,” he said.
Thriving in Auburn? You bet.
Contact Rod Lee at rodlee.1963@gmail or 774-232-2999.