UNION, NJ — A family business for more than 50 years, Maplecrest Ford Lincoln of Union is a bit of a hidden gem. Off the highway at 2800 Springfield Ave., Vauxhall, NJ, costumers seek it out for a different kind of car-buying experience.
Maplecrest was founded by Fred Giordano Sr., father of current president Stephen Giordano.
“I was born almost one month to the day before the dealership opened in 1963,” said Stephen Giordano. Over the years, it has employed two of Stephen’s uncles, his three stepbrothers and sisters and his brother, Tom, who now owns a sister dealership in Mendham. Stephen was 30 when he and Thomas took over Maplecrest, almost 30 years to the day after it was founded.
“There was a feeling, even growing up, that this was a family — not just the family members but everyone who worked here, even long-term customers,” said Stephen Giordano.
“It is like a big family,” echoed Denise Krehel, office manager and Maplecrest employee of nearly 33 years. “A great group of people. The Giordano family are great people to work for. There are quite a few long-term employees, and that says a lot about a business.”
When she first started, Krehel remembers, there were about 40 employees. Since then, the business has blossomed and now employees about 130 people.
“Lots of people have come and gone, but we’ve always had a really strong internal culture, I think,” said Giordano.
A large part of that culture is civic responsibility and a strong charitable arm. Maplecrest’s high involvement with local non-profit organizations is obvious when you enter the showroom and see screens on the walls featuring videos that promoting these organizations.
“This work in the community is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and the commitment goes deeper than the check,” said Jen Miller, head of brand transformation and consumer experience. “He gets people involved, and it’s part of the culture to be involved.”
“We love Maplecrest,” said Sheryl Szlosek, vice president of Franciscan Charities, a social service network based in Newark near the dealership. After Giordano came in with his daughter to volunteer in their soup kitchen, he started helping out in other ways — picking up and delivery baked goods when they needed and even donating cars to their charity golf events.
Peggy Barnett, executive director of the Bass Foundation, said that Maplecrest donated 500 fleece jackets to give to children in need at their holiday event.
“Maplecrest even stepped up and sent a bunch of volunteers and sent a truck to pick up all of the toys,” Barnett said.
Maplecrest helped the foundation behind the scenes, too, by having their team redesign their website and help with their social media outreach.
“They’ve been incredible for our charity and we’re very grateful for everything they’ve done and that they continue to do,” Barnett said.
But it isn’t just outside the dealership that Maplecrest makes a difference. Maplecrest also hosts “Mustang Sally’s Now: Driving Women’s Leadership,” a monthly series of free workshops, panel discussions and clinics, designed to help women build confidence and to connect them with opportunities to share professional and life experiences.
“We’re a Family”
According to Giordano, Maplecrest has, by far, the best team in the country.
“I’ve always felt that way,” Giordano said. “I don’t even know if the word ‘team’ does it justice, because these are my best friends, and I think it goes both ways.”
“I think it’s definitely a family environment there,” said Cassandra Crute, assistant internet manager. “Everyone looks out for each other, looks out for the customers. It’s one of the most welcoming atmospheres that I’ve been in.”
Together, this extended family has laughed, celebrated the births of children, mourned those who passed away and overcome hardships including floods, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and hurricanes.
“I’m extremely proud that this store has survived as long as it has under some very challenging times, and not only survived but is flourishing,” he said. “To me, it’s not just a business and it’s certainly not just a car dealership. It’s rich in history. It’s iconic not only locally but nationally. It’s an institution.”
Giordano said he has taken the business’s traditions, built on them and modernized the company for today’s retail market, ensuring its continued success. In recent years, Maplecrest has been a pilot dealership for several Ford consumer experience programs, including a newly designed website.
“I think we’ve always managed to stay ahead of the curve,” he said.
“I’m trying to change the car business,” said Giordano. “It would be an impossible task without everyone here.”
Service Like None Other
Because of its location in the heart of a diverse section of New Jersey, Maplecrest serves customers of every demographic and income level, and each is treated with respect and high level of service they deserve.
“You don’t find that often in a dealership or a local business,” noted Miller.
Billy Ecke, a sales consultant at Maplecrest for six years, said that his “technique” is all about treating people right.
“Low pressure, or no pressure, sometimes to a fault,” said Ecke. “But that’s just my style. We get a lot of repeat and referral business because we pride ourselves in being a nice dealership, not a high-pressure place.”
After the vehicle is purchased, the dealership continues to work hard to please its customers.
“A big part of buying the car is after you buy the car,” said Ecke. “Our service department is second to none.”
Maplecrest serves about 2,000 customers each month.
“Customers are everything to us,” said Service Director John Hewitt. “The customers are the ones driving our business.”
While your vehicle is serviced at Maplecrest, customers enjoy a new lounge with comfortable chairs, computers, free WiFi, complimentary bagels in the morning and coffee and snacks all day long.
Recently, the dealership added a truck center, where it provides top-notch service for vehicles including ambulances and busses that need a quick turn-around done right the first time.
“Ultimate customer satisfaction is one of our key elements,” said Hewitt. “Without customer satisfaction there’s no sense in being in business.”
Reuben Lewis, senior master auto technician (who also teaches a Mustang Sally’s workshop to help women understand their cars) takes pride in everything he does at Maplecrest.
“Like my dad says, it takes many years to get a good reputation and just one thing to mess it up,” said Lewis. “I live by that.”
Learn more at http://www.maplecrestcars.com/.