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Mercedes keeps on growing with the community it supports

Posted: February 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Senior leasing and sales consultant Oscar Ramirez, left, and General Sales Manager James Salas discuss a deal at Mercedes-Benz of Valencia. Senior leasing and sales consultant Oscar Ramirez, left, and General Sales Manager James Salas discuss a deal at Mercedes-Benz of Valencia.
Senior leasing and sales consultant Oscar Ramirez, left, and General Sales Manager James Salas discuss a deal at Mercedes-Benz of Valencia.

Mercedes-Benz of Valencia only opened its doors in December 2005, but it already needs to expand.

Employing 91 people at the local dealership, the Mercedes-Benz manufacturer enjoyed the best year it’s ever had in the history of Mercedes, said James Salas, general sales manager for the Santa Clarita-based dealership located on Valencia Blvd.

“Our sales increased as well; growing about 7.1 percent per year,” Salas said.

That continued growth prompted the dealership to recently pave an additional lot to stage temporary housing while the current dealership is being torn apart to enlarge both the showroom and service center.

Mercedes was expected to break ground on the expansion in mid-February, adding 7,500 square feet of more showroom space with a total of 15,000 more square feet to include the expanded service area, said Mike Sage, co-owner of the family owned and operated Sage Automotive Group.

The price tag? $5 million, Sage said.

“Even though we’re expanding our sales base, we’re very, very interested in giving back to the community what the community has given to us,” Salas said.

Mercedes-Benz of Valencia gets a lot of repeat and referral business, he said.

“We have some clients getting their 18th or 19th car from us,” Salas said.

Salas attributes that to “absolutely delighting their clients with customer service” which accounts for the local dealership’s extremely high customer satisfaction scores, he said.

“People have commented to me that’s it’s a very friendly, homey atmosphere,” Salas said. “They don’t feel pressured; they feel very relaxed. It’s not what you would expect from a car dealership.”

Also, Salas points out that a Mercedes-Benz can be a lot more affordable than most people think. A lot of people connect the brand with quality, exclusivity and luxury – but the dealership offers leases on its cars that make the monthly payment comparable to a Toyota or Honda, he said.

“I just leased a brand new C-class to someone for about $300 a month,” he said. “People are very pleasantly surprised.”

And the dealership offers short-term leases that allow customers to drive a brand new car every 1.5 to two years.

“People like the new models and new car feeling,” Salas said.

Salas also attributes the dealership’s success, however, to its support of the Santa Clarita Valley community.

In 2013, Mercedes-Benz of Valencia made charitable, monetary contributions to College of the Canyons Performing Arts, SCV Sheriff’s Foundation, Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Department, Hart High School (football, baseball, golf programs), West Ranch High School, Canyon Boys & Girls Sponsorship, and Canyon Creek Sports Camp, Salas said. In previous years, it donated to the Santa Clarita Valley Pageant and Santa Clarita Senior Citizen’s Center.

“We support the community when people buy cars here,” Salas said.

In the past, Mercedes also supported the Hart Pony League baseball park.

“We made some improvements to the actual baseball field, contributing a substantial amount of money,” he said.
The dealership gives back indirectly too. When people buy cars locally, the tax dollars stay in the community, he said.

Calling Mercedes-Benz of Valencia a great place to work, Salas said most of the employees have been with the dealership since it opened.

“It’s a family-owned and operated business that cares about their employees,” Salas said. “That’s why there’s no turnover. It speaks volumes for the character and integrity of the people that own the store.”

Pausing a moment to reflect on Mercedes family-feel and the dealership’s ongoing support of the Santa Clarita Valley, Salas coined: “Our dealership/our community.”


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