“Selling is the easiest thing to do; the talent is being able to sell to your customers over and over again!”
For Doug Wells, president of Mercedes-Benz of Brooklyn, the automotive business has run in his blood since childhood. His father was a plant manager for Ford Motor Company, so it’s no wonder his love for the industry started right at home. “I grew up around the business,” says Wells.
A business major in college with no concrete plan beyond graduation (Wells admits he had no specific career in mind), the New Jersey native worked part-time as the night-shift manager at an Exxon gas station in Freehold, NJ. Part of the job required he sell oil to customers with a commission given for every quart sold. The natural-born salesman took things a step further, targeting landscapers in the area so he could sell oil by the case! Right from the start, Wells was reaching higher and paving the way for his future.
The Roadmap to Success
Down the road from that gas station where Wells worked was King BMW/Cadillac dealership. King took notice of Wells’ salesmanship and tried to hire him. “He saw I was a natural, but I couldn’t sell GM products – my dad was a Ford guy,” says Wells. Shortly after he noticed a newspaper ad for a sales position at a Lincoln/Mercury dealership nearby. He walked over in his uniform and was hired on the spot.
“I went to Steinbeck’s the next day and bought myself a three-piece Johnny Carson suit,” recalls Wells. “I started on a Saturday and to get a demo, you had to sell a demo. That Monday I had a brand new car.” Since that day Wells has never had to buy a car, he’s always had a new one for free.
In 1988, Wells married and moved with his bride to North Brunswick, NJ. The following year he joined Ray Catena Mercedes as their youngest salesperson. In 2006, he was promoted to general manager after being the business’ top salesperson. In a career that has spanned nearly 25 years with Ray Catena, Wells credits the man behind the company as someone who has been a true mentor. “Catena inspires you to take care of your customers. Working side by side next to him was the best college education I could have ever received,” says Wells.
Passing Along the Inspiration
A man who truly enjoys interacting with people, Wells recalls a time two teachers from Edison, New Jersey came into Ray Catena looking for someone who would talk to students about the different career opportunities that existed at a dealership. They wanted involvement from big businesses in the area that employed a lot of people, making Ray Catena Auto Group the perfect fit. With Wells as their guide, they were set.
The students were given a tour of the facility, served lunch, and listened as Wells talked about not only his journey but about a business that, up until then, they didn’t know too much about. “I love to do great business, but to have the opportunity to teach and inspire others is what makes it worthwhile,” he says.
Wells has also spoken to graduate classes and plans to incorporate a similar concept at the dealership he runs today.
Finding the Right Fit
Over the years Wells had been approached on numerous occasions by potential partners; in 2012, the time finally “felt right.” He purchased the former Sovereign Motors in Brooklyn, NY, with two partners, and in late December 2012, changed the name to Mercedes Benz of Brooklyn. They put up new signs and were open for business the very next day.
At Mercedes-Benz of Brooklyn, Wells employs 160 employees and prides himself on the fact that once a customer comes to him, they never go anywhere else. Since taking over, they’ve distinguished themselves from other high-end luxury car dealerships.
“Customers can feel the difference in the energy level.” Their cars even display a logo of the Brooklyn Bridge – something everyone wants, says Wells.
The amenities a customer receives when stepping into Wells’ dealership are abundant. From two lounges, a full-service cafe that offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, loaner cars, an “at-home” valet service and even a shuttle to work (to name just a few), he’s thought of everything! The service center even stays open until 10 p.m. on weeknights, something Wells knows makes his customers happy. Like the city that never sleeps, Wells describes his department as the “service that never sleeps.”
“I call it a family our business,” says Wells. “Anyone who buys a car here is part of our family.” Always accessible to his customers, he even goes so far as putting his personal cell phone on his business card. “If I’m driving and see a Mercedes pulled over with a flat I’ll stop, suit and all, to help them change it,” he says.
A salesman at heart, most days Wells can be found on the sales floor interacting with customers, not in his office on the second floor.
“What I love most about this business is the people I meet, and making them happy.” Believing “110 percent” in the product he sells, Wells credits Mercedes as being the safest car in the world. “They’re machines!”
In addition to focusing on growing his business, Wells and the Mercedes-Benz of Brooklyn family are involved in a number of charities. Organizations such as the Susan G. Koman Foundation, Autism Speaks, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Boomer Esiason’s Foundation, which helps fund research for Cystic Fibrosis, are all causes he strongly believes in. Wells also sits on several charity boards and believes these are the commitments you make to do your part in helping others.
“It’s the fact that someone cares and the people you help are so appreciative. That’s a home-run in my eyes,” he says.
Wells’ accomplishments throughout his career have come from hard work, determination, and sincerity in all he does. His philosophy: Always be sincere and treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s that simple he says. “You can make money and still treat people the right way.”
For a man who has achieved much success, Wells says his biggest success is being able to make his family happy and take care of them. A family man at heart, he loves spending time with his wife and 10-year-old daughter, who accompanies him to work some days.
“If she learns anything from me, I hope it’s that she’s nice to the people she meets and to always follow her dreams.”
Mercedes-Benz of Brooklyn
1800 Shore Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11214