Cadillac has reinvented itself since Scott Jordan bought the local Wagner Cadillac dealership about three years ago.
With a new line of cars attracting a larger range of buyers, Cadillac hasn't stopped growing. Wagner Cadillac recently completed a seven-month renovation of its Tyler facility.
Jordan, 42, said he always knew he wanted to own a business but didn't know what. He said he was always intrigued with the car business because his childhood neighbor owned a dealership and drove a new car all the time.
Jordan grew up in Abilene and graduated from Texas A&M University with an Industrial Distribution degree. After college, he lived in Dallas and Los Angeles before marrying Stacie Gabriel 17 years ago and moving to Tyler.
He worked for Don Simmons Real Estate for about two years before going into the car business with his father-in-law, Don Gabriel. They bought their first dealership, Smith Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Cadillac in Henderson in 1998.
Jordan and Gabriel, along with Gabriel's son, Stan Gabriel, bought a Ford dealership in Livingston and, in 2004, the three men added longtime manager Tim Capps to partner with them in buying a Pontiac, Buick, GMC dealership in Kilgore. Stan Gabriel is the managing partner at the Livingston business while Capps is managing partner of the Kilgore store.
About six months before General Motors Co. went bankrupt, Don Ellis, general manager of Wagner Cadillac in Tyler, called Jordan and told him the dealership was for sale.
He said they knew it was risky. They didn't believe GM would go bankrupt, but when it did, they were under contract to buy the store. He said they waited it out until GM reorganized and bought it in September 2009.
"Wagner had a good name in this town for a long time," Jordan said. "And they sold a lot of Cadillacs."
George Wagner started the dealership in 1961 in downtown Tyler.
Jordan said it was a "perfect storm" when Cadillac revolutionized its product options, coming out with more technology in its cars and more up-to-date styling. He said they reinvented the business about the time they took over the Tyler dealership.
Jordan said they have more than 6,000 names in their customer database. Most of their customers come from within 60 miles of Tyler, but they see some from Pittsburg, Mount Pleasant and other areas in East Texas. Their online sales extend to out-of-state customers and they even sold a car to a man in Malaysia, he said.
Wagner Cadillac offers new Cadillacs, as well as several pre-owned makes and models ranging from $4,000 to $60,000, Jordan said, adding that last year they averaged selling about 30 new cars and 45 used cars per month.
Jordan said the car business has picked up quite a bit. During the economic downturn, the car business came to a halt and stopped for about a year. That was followed by about four years of slow and gradual growth, he said.
"Everything is great," Jordan said. "A lot of people are buying cars."
Wagner Cadillac recently completed a seven-month renovation of its facility and held an open house May 23 to showcase the changes.
Jordan said it was mostly cosmetic work, including a new exterior faade using Cadillac's all-new image program, as well as new wall and floor coverings and Americans with Disabilities Act -compliant bathrooms.
He said they now have separate seating areas downstairs by the service department, as well as upstairs with a refreshment bar and high-top caf￩ seating. They have another intimate seating area in the showroom by the Cadillac Art & Science Center, which exhibits information, as well as color and leather samples.
Jordan said they revamped the repair shop with state-of-the-art alignment machines, new lifts and other updated equipment. They also added a second paint booth in the body shop and moved the offices for the body shop with the offices for mechanical repairs to be more convenient for customers.
"We wanted to make the flow very easy for the customers," Jordan said.
The renovation project also included moving the managers' offices to the front of the building, redoing the sales offices, adding a front entryway and flowing everything into the showroom, he said. There is also a covered area for deliveries.
Wagner Cadillac has 30 loaner cars people can use while their cars are being serviced. "The big thing with us is we want to be convenient," he said.
Wagner Cadillac has 48 employees, including some longtime workers. David Brown, the service adviser, is a fixture at the dealership, he said. Carl Shine, a general sales manager, has been in the car business for more than 30 years, while General Manager Dean Cagle also has worked in the industry for years, Jordan said.