HOLLY — Steve Gabbara and his team have been on what he calls “a pretty good run.”
Pretty good may be an understatement considering that Gabbara, general manager, and his team at Szott Ford in Holly recently received the Ford Motor Company President’s Award for the fourth year in a row and for the fifth time in six years.
Ford recognizes only the top ten percent of dealers that the automaker says “must exceed customer expectations every day in every department.” The award is based solely on customer feedback via Ford’s Customer Satisfaction Index Survey that measures the satisfaction of new car buyers and service customers.
Gabbara, who has been with Szott for 13 years, credits his team, most of whom have been with the dealership for 10 years or longer. That includes service manager John McLellan, Jr. (14 years), new car sales manager Chris Boan (12 years), financial director Anthony Ketchum (11 years), parts manager Dave Prado (10 years) and used car sales manager Rick Burczyk who joined the Szott team this year.
Gabbara believes in maintaining a positive and fun work environment for his staff. “You can’t have happy customers unless you have happy employees,” he said. And happy customers lead to repeat business. “We have a lot of repeat customers and a lot of referrals,” says Gabbara. “It’s very comforting for our customers to come back and see the same faces year after year.”
The fact that Szott Ford earned the President’s Award for 2015 is an especially impressive accomplishment considering the dealership was undergoing a major renovation for much of the year. Started in August of last year and nearly complete, the $2.5 million project, which added 8,000 sq. ft. to the building, encompassed every aspect of the dealership’s physical structure. Improvements include a re-branded showroom, a customer lounge that is tripled in size – and includes gourmet coffee dispensers and massage lounge chairs – and an expansion of the service department from 12 to 24 service bays. An automatic carwash was added so that every single service customer, even those in for just an oil change, leaves with a clean, shiny car.
Szott Ford currently employs about 60 people and will be hiring more technicians soon. The dealership supports a number of community organizations including Holly high school athletic teams and marching band and the Holly Little League. The dealership recently helped with fundraising that refurbished the Little League diamonds where nearly 350 kids participate, including two sons of “Coach” Dan Kittle, a 14-year veteran at Szott.
Gabbara says he “owes a big thank-you” to the local community for supporting the dealership during the renovation project and he plans to host a Grand Re-Opening event in the in the fall. Meanwhile, he says, the dealership is “open and operational” and invites in anyone who wishes to see the progress of the renovation project – and the five President’s Awards.
— Wes Smith