Cole Automotive Group in SLO sees growth in sales, hiring

Cole Automotive Group, family-owned and operated since 1950, revved up hiring in recent years, recruiting new employees to staff its San Luis Obispo dealerships.

When Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from creditors in 2009, the dealership had fewer than 24 employees, and total annual sales were just over $14 million, said David Cole, co-owner and general manager. There are 64 employees now, hired “over the last few years,” he said. While much of the hiring has been done in the service and parts department, employees have been hired to fill jobs ranging from accounting to detailing.

The dealership on Broad Street sells Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Jeep and Mazda, and with the addition of Cole Fiat on Monterey Street in June 2012, total sales increased to just under $40 million last year. The sales figure includes new and used vehicles, as well as vehicle service and parts, said Cole.

“Sales growth has been across the board,” he said. “Fiat has done well, and we have the electric Fiat now, and that has been unbelievable.”

Cole attributed growth to the dealerships’ focus on “recruiting good-quality people,” who have been empowered to take care of customers.

Cole is looking to hire two or three additional people in a variety of areas.

“The ultimate goal is to be at 70,” said Cole, noting that the dealership has the most employees in its history.

Meanwhile, the Broad Street property will expand, said Cole. In the next 90 days, the dealership will pave an additional acre lot on Capitolio Way to be used for vehicles and customer and employee parking.