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Dodge Revs Up in Return to South Coast

Jim Crook's brand addition re-re-energizes Santa Barbara Chrysler Jeep dealership.

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The venerable Dodge brand of cars, trucks and SUVs has returned to the South Coast. The reunion with its stable mates, Chrysler and Jeep, at the Santa Barbara Chrysler Jeep — and now Dodge — dealership at the Santa Barbara Airport Auto Center, marks the latest triumph of dealer principal Jim Crook.

Crook, the longtime Santa Barbara car guy and one of the principals behind Milpas Motors, purchased the flagging local Chrysler Jeep franchise in 2006. An auto industry veteran of some 30 years, the last 25 on the South Coast with Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Porsche, Crook has pumped new life into the dealership at 6290 Hollister Ave. He quickly remodeled the facility, improved employee training, and upgraded customer service and satisfaction while quadrupling sales.

Santa Barbara Chrysler Jeep Dodge is a five star-rated dealership, a ranking that represents the top of Chrysler Corp.’s franchised dealers. Five-star dealers must meet rigorous customer service goals and ratings, employ certified factory-trained technicians, meet facility requirements, and meet ongoing training and client satisfaction goals.

Crook brings his experience with top luxury auto brands and their accompanying level of customer service to Santa Barbara Chrysler Jeep Dodge. His philosophy is that each customer becomes a client and is treated with professionalism, courtesy and respect. He believes in helping his clients buy an automobile, rather than sell them one — a standard that elevates Crook and his dealership from their peers.

The philosophy coincides with Chrysler Corp.‘s recent purchase by Cerebus Capital and its CEO, Stephen Feinberg.

“Cerebus and Chrysler are redefining the American Automobile Company," Crook said. "By bringing in industry icon Jim Press, formerly of Toyota, who was the highest-ranking non-Japanese at the auto giant, to run the sales and marketing of the company, Feinberg and Cerebus have made a huge statement and commitment to remaking Chrysler.

"They are raising the stakes and the beneficiary is the American car buyer.  Better quality, better choice and better value.  Look out for a slew of new product offerings, including hybrids, bluetec diesels and the all-new Dodge Challenger."

Joining Crook is his leadership team of general manager Jeff Carlson, who has more than 15 years of automotive industry experience; general sales manager Jim Pizano, who has spent the last six years with Dodge; service and parts director Tony Sleiman, who has more than 30 years of experience, 15 with Chrysler Jeep Dodge; and parts manager Steve Webb, who has 25 years of experience.  They are backed up by a newly invigorated sales and service team that has undergone extensive factory training and certification since Crook took over the business.

“Everyday, someone comes into the dealership and remarks about the turnaround in our attitude, about the remarkable change in our facility and how refreshing it is to come in to purchase or service an automobile,”  Crook said.

Many of Crook’s longtime clients continue to have him obtain their choice of any make and model through his Santa Barbara Luxury Auto Sales and Leasing subsidiary. But now they can shop for their Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge or pre-owned vehicle at the dealership or online by clicking here.

Having Dodge back on the South Coast is like welcoming back an old friend.  Hey, why not put a Dodge in your garage! Welcome back Dodge and good luck to Jim Crook and his crew!

Ward Ritter is a principal at Santa Barbara Chrysler Jeep.

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