Top Companies Profiles-High Gear

Photography by William S. Speer By Susan Burns July 31, 2009

As the top-grossing car company on our Top Companies list, Gettel Automotive, with 8 dealerships and 375 employees, still has suffered along with the rest of the automotive industry. Revenues were $309 million in 2008, down from the $340 million the company reported 18 months earlier.

“2008 has been the worst year for car sales for the industry since the early ’80s,” says Bob Bisplinghoff, Gettel’s COO. “The market is changing every day and staying ahead is a challenge.”

While the next 18 months will be tough, Bisplinghoff expects the car market to rebound in 2011. In the meantime, CEO Jim Gettel plans to expand his company’s footprint by spending millions of dollars to open new dealerships and renovate old ones. Aside from moving an Acura dealership from Bee Ridge to Clark Road last October, Gettel will break ground on a Toyota dealership in Lakewood Ranch on S.R. 64 near I-75 the first quarter of 2010. He’s also planning a major $1.5 million renovation this year of the old Gettel Toyota on U.S. 41 in Manatee that has outgrown its facility and will be razing an Acura building on Bee Ridge to make way for more Hyundai inventory.

Bisplinghoff says Gettel Automotive has kept inventory down and has cut advertising, interest costs and personnel costs by 30 percent to keep profits up. “We do more with less,” he says. In addition, they don’t listen to the news. “The negative press doesn’t help any of us,” he says. “Our mission is to sell.”

Hyundai is a brand that’s doing well right now, especially the luxury vehicle Genesis (named North American Car of the Year) and the company has hired more people for the Hyundai dealership on Bee Ridge.

Gettel is also continuing to invest money into the business and community through community events and grassroots marketing.

“We have a lot on our plate in the next 12 months,” says Bisplinghoff, “and we’re looking at this period as an opportune time for us.”

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