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Thomas A. Moorehead was one of the lucky ones. When BMW decided to build a handful of new dealerships in the U.S. for the first time in 14 years, he was fortunate to score a letter of intent. Dealers had pleaded with the automaker to do so for years, but the answer was consistently “no.” But when market analysis pointed to vast development and growth opportunities in the Washington, D.C. Metro area, BMW changed its position, and dealers scrambled for a stake. One learned that Moorehead was slated to receive a coveted shop and rushed to purchase the same land for which Moorehead was negotiating. “Obviously, he failed to steal the land from me,” Moorehead boasts. Now, as the owner of BMW of Sterling and MINI of Sterling, both located under one palatial roof in Sterling, Virginia, Moorehead still has a good deal of luck. And the rewards have been plentiful. His 39,000-square-foot dealership is a large-volume facility including 24 service work bays; several showrooms; retail, parts, reception, and cashier counters; a children’s room and lounge area; a cafeteria; a conference room; and executive offices. Completed in January 2001 after 18 months of securing financing, planning, and construction, it has become the prototype for all BMW dealerships built in the U.S. since 2002.
First-year sales for BMW of Sterling/MINI of Sterling (No. 20 on the BE AUTO DEALER 100 list with $122.3 million in sales) were roughly $70 million, placing it as the third top-selling MINI dealer nationwide and the eastern region’s No. 1 BMW dealership for customer service. Overall sales have grown steadily, from $84.9 million in 2003 to $108 million in 2005, and over the last five years, saw an increase in sales of 69.9%. Growth has not been driven only by vehicle sales; service sales contributed significantly to the bottom line, spiking to $9.2 million from $5.8 million just one year earlier. Moorehead’s commitment to a solid business philosophy, strategizing, and his involvement in the community have earned BMW of Sterling and MINI of Sterling the coveted title of BLACK ENTERPRISE 2007 Auto Dealer of the Year.
From the beginning, Moorehead’s philosophy was simple: provide the best customer service. He continually trains his employees to maintain the company’s values through methods that include monthly audio books on success, which are discussed weekly. And although he says the company’s success has surpassed his own expectations, Moorehead knew, even before his petitions to build, that the market was ripe–based on growth projections and development information released by the state. Located near Redskins Park, the training facility of the NFL’s Washington Redskins, the dealership is experiencing growth parallel to the area. Within about a three-mile radius are the corporate offices of AOL, Verizon, Airbus, Oracle, Microsoft, Sprint, Xerox, and USA Today. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Loudoun County is the richest county in America, with a median household income estimated at $98,483. “This area is the new Internet capital of the world, the Silicon