“Many of our clients work on Wall Street or own multiple businesses,” said Lou Liodori, general manager of Mercedes-Benz of Greenwich. “They can’t come between eight and five o’clock to service their cars. We have some of the most hard-working and demanding professionals as our clients, and we work harder for them.”
And if that means staying open until midnight at the service center or ferrying customers to shops and restaurants, well, so be it.
“In this market ($250,000-$500,000), when you cross the line and you are no longer convenient to a person, you’re done,” Liodori said. “You might buy your first car from me, but the second, third, and fourth car are sold by the service department.”
To enhance that tradition of service, the 52-year-old dealership – now owned by Roger Penske and his Penske Automotive Group – is undergoing a face-lift slated to be completed in the next few months.
The renovation features 15 new service stalls, a heated drive-up reception area, a multistory showroom and new customer lounge and reception areas. It is certain to bring distinction to the blue and silver building that sits amid the Porsche, Maserati and Ferrari flagships that make East Putnam Avenue a high-end automobile mecca.
But the beauty of Benz is that you don’t have to be a captain of industry to be treated like one. No one knows that better than Liodori, a self-proclaimed “Yonkers boy” who’s just as happy to have a presence in Greenwich.
“I grew up on Carroll Avenue,” he said. “In Yonkers, some parts are just like Scarsdale while others are some of the toughest streets in the country. I’m proud of that. You are truly able to relate to all kinds of people, poor or rich, blue- or white-collar. It is directly related to my success in the car business and gave me a very broad view.”
One that embraces his staff: “Our people are our most important asset.”
Liodori was once a starving writer and actor living in Manhattan, making ends meet by working at restaurants.
“It was from working at restaurants that I began to understand that if someone is expecting and paying for a higher level of service, you need to deliver on that expectation.”
He had his first car sales job at Curry Chevrolet on Central Avenue and went on to hone his skills at Pepe Motors in White Plains.
Mercedes-Benz still has some mystique to Americans, Liodori said. Perhaps that’s because the story of Karl Benz (1844-1929) – the German designer and engineer who is credited with inventing the gas-powered car – is less well-known to them than that of Henry Ford. Nevertheless, the company Benz helped found patented the first petrol-powered car, the Benz Patent Motorwagen, in 1886. Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler and engineer Wilhelm Maybach were the forefathers of the elite brand of German autos. Today the company is still revolutionizing the industry with technologies like its crash Pre-Safe system and multi-threshold airbags. For many Americans, a Mercedes-Benz remains a dream, the coach of comfort immortalized in Janis Joplin’s rasped singing.
“People buy a Mercedes often to celebrate something,” Liodori said. “When they come through the door you don’t know whether they’ve just gotten their bonus, been promoted, graduated from college, or beaten cancer. Buying a Mercedes is still very much about celebration.”