Working in the automobile business has always been a way of life for Ed Napleton. As a fourth generation member of the family business that bears his name, Napleton oversees the new Napleton Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM dealership in Arlington Heights.
The new dealership, which hosted its grand opening Saturday, is a jewel in the Napleton operation of more than 60 stores, spread throughout four Midwestern states and Florida. The dealership replaces a location in Des Plaines and was built with the customer in mind, with amenities that are expected to make the car-buying experience much more enjoyable, he said.
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Napleton Auto GroupNapleton's Arlington Heights Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM
1155 W. Dundee Road Arlington Heights, IL 60004
Tag Line: Second to None Since 1931
Call: (888) 509-7430
Hours: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.
Call: (888) 433-4044
Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
What are the biggest advantages of this new location?
"We gutted two office buildings and raised the roof here to make this facility, which is so much more comfortable and accommodating for customers and employees. The building is about five times bigger than what we had in Des Plaines. It's a much better place to do business. We went from what was a three-car showroom to one than has 26 cars.
"Everything is brand new and state-of-the-art. It has 48,700 square feet, with a 19,100-square-foot showroom. The way the store is set up is all about efficiency and a better experience for the customer. We have free Wi-Fi throughout the store and computers for our customers to use while they are waiting for service on their cars."
How has the service department expanded?
"We have 19 state-of-the-art bays that allow our service technicians, especially our express technicians, to service vehicles as quickly as possible. Our new lifts, which are a lot safer than the ones in our old facility, raise cars in 40 seconds as opposed to two minutes. Our goal is to make sure all oil changes get in an out in less than 30 minutes. The new technology also allows us to have a much cleaner-looking facility.
"We also have a 30,000-pound, heavy-duty truck lift that no other dealer has in this area. This lift allows us to work on every make and model of heavy-duty trucks. We have two different 20,000-pound lifts: a drive-on and a scissor lift. Many companies will only have one of these and will sublet this work to other shops that are 20 to 30 miles away, which adds at least a day to service time.
"However, with all of these heavy-duty lifts, our service department is able to work on any type of truck. This is all about making life convenient for our customers. Our technicians are all factory-certified and have the ability to work on all vehicle makes and models."
How has the Napleton Group expanded throughout the years?
"My great-grandfather Ed Napleton started with a DeSoto store on Chicago's South Side, on Western and Vincennes, in 1931. My grandfather expanded to three stores and that was pretty much it until my dad and his brothers got into the business. Only one was a lawyer; the other five brothers all work in the car business. They all went into the business at a very young age.
"Our stores have something for everyone from economy cars all the way up to Porsches."
How did you get started in the business?
"My grandfather put me to work early, first pulling weeds at one of his stores, then washing cars when I went to Fenwick High School. I went to Springhill College in Mobile, Ala., where I studied business management.
"I began selling cars in college, then moved up pretty quickly through the ranks at the Oak Lawn Honda-Kia dealership, becoming sales manager in 2003 and general manager in 2004. I took over this dealership when it was in Des Plaines in 2012."
How will you celebrate the opening of this new store?
"We moved into this facility in mid-May, but we are celebrating our grand opening Saturday, July 27. We will have Tribute to the Troops here, the volunteer organization of Americans dedicated to taking care of injured military members and to preserving the memory of those who have died in combat. We'll also have a car seat safety event in conjunction with the Arlington Heights Police Department."
How do you motivate employees?
"The No. 1 thing is to just treat everyone with respect on a daily basis. We try to promote from within the company. We have several people within the organization who are running our stores who have come up through the ranks. A lot of our employees come here with no experience, so we do a lot of training. The No. 1 way we pay our employees is based on customer service."
What is your business philosophy?
"It's similar to how we treat our employees -- treat everyone the way you want to be treated by putting yourself in the customers' shoes. It's reflected in our motto, 'Second to None since 1931.' "
What do you like most about the auto business?
"I like meeting new people every day. No two days are the same. My favorite part of the business is going out and talking with the customers because I can help them make a good deal. I can tell when they are indecisive or feel pressured. Buying a car is a stressful thing. We try to make it more fun. It's important to figure out what the customers want instead of shoving a car at them that they don't want."
What do you like most about the vehicles you sell?
"We have an unbelievable lineup. Jeep has the Cherokee and the Wrangler. I don't think you can find a better SUV in the business. The Chrysler 300 is a beautiful car. You can find a good deal with the Dodge Dart that's priced under $20,000. One vehicle that has become significantly better in the past few years is the new Dodge Ram truck, which is winning awards for best pickup truck. Our goal is to become the No. 1 Ram dealer in the area. We have 300 vehicles on our lot and at any given time we have about 30 to 40 used vehicles, so we have vehicles available in all price ranges."
How will the dealership support the local community?
"We're excited to work with the community now that we have moved to Arlington Heights. We've been in contact with the chamber of commerce and plan to work with organizations like the local Little League. We plan to do things similar to what we've done with our store in Oak Lawn where we donated a field made out of field turf to the local high school that's called Ed Napleton Field. Not even the Bears have a field like this one. We value the relationships that we build within the local community."
What do you do when you are not at one of the Napleton stores?
"My wife, Jami, and I live in the city. I have three sisters and a brother, all of whom work in the business except for one sister who is a psychologist. I like to golf and I am a big fan of all the major sport teams."