Customer service, fun are keys for Hanania
Auto dealer Jack Hanania has seen his business grow from one Acura dealership in 1998 to a stable of 11 dealerships in 2013.
Through the expansion, he said one goal has remained unchanged: his passion for serving customers and having fun.
The Wolfson High School graduate said he remembers customer service lessons he learned from his father and an early job bagging groceries at Publix near University Boulevard and St. Augustine Road.
"That's where I learned about taking care of the customer, from my dad and working at Publix. My dad had a grocery business and he taught me about building relationships," said Hanania.
He was selected this year as the second Infiniti dealer in Jacksonville. The brand joined two Acura, Audi, Fiat, two Hyundai, Maserati, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Volkswagen dealerships as part of the Hanania Automotive Group.
All are based in Northeast Florida with the exception of an Acura dealership in Miami.
The group includes the Hanania Collision Center on Wells Road in Orange Park.
"We had a long list of applicants for a second Infiniti dealership in Jacksonville, but Jack stood out for a couple of reasons. His sales and customer satisfaction for his existing dealerships are very strong, but of equal importance was his standing in the community," said Kevin Bauman, Infiniti area general manager.
Baumann said Infinitis are en route to Jacksonville for Hanania's dealership.
Hanania's latest arrival to his group has been two Maseratis, a GranTurismo Convertible and a Sport model.
Through his relationship with Fiat, Hanania drew interest from Maserati. He said he plans to complete a Maserati showroom next to the Fiat building by the end of spring.
The Jacksonville dealership is the only Maserati location between Orlando and Atlanta.
A price in the neighborhood of $150,000 for either model in the showroom didn't sway Hanania from the decision to pursue the exotic auto line.
"Jacksonville is a great town to do business in. Some areas do well with high-end cars and we are an NFL city. There are a lot of nice things that come with that. Why not bring it to Jacksonville? Tiffany's is doing well. Louis Vuitton is doing well," said Hanania.
Along with acquiring dealerships, Hanania also is positioning those dealerships in a high-traffic area on Blanding Boulevard north of Interstate 295. His dealerships, except for Miami Acura, are within two miles of each other on Blanding Boulevard.
"Blanding is starting to become the heart of where all car dealerships are located. The Westside is experiencing so much growth that, in the future, Blanding will be the center of town," said Hanania.
He began his automotive career working for Luther Coggin in 1989 at the Acura dealership he would eventually own. Hanania was promoted to management from sales after six months.
"He's one of the best car men I've ever known and that's saying a lot," said Coggin, who retired from the automotive industry three years ago after a career that spanned 63 years.
"He is without a doubt one of the finest men that I know from character, honesty and integrity. He is beyond reproach as an automobile man," said Coggin.
Hanania has sponsored the Jacksonville Sea & Sky Spectacular, the Northeast Florida Builders Association's 2011 Parade of Homes, the "Jack's Packs Book Bags" for Read it Forward and the J.T. Townsend Foundation.
On the business side, he said he doesn't intend to set a ceiling on how large the business could grow.
"I've never put a number on how many dealerships we can have or want to buy. If you do, you're chasing a number and that's no fun," said Hanania.
He did mention a situation that could cause the growth of the company to slow down.
"Once we start sacrificing customer satisfaction, that's when we have too much. Do I see us growing more? If the right situation presents itself, then sure. It has to be a great product and they have to be a true partner with us in taking care of the customer,"said Hanania.