You would be hard pressed to find a car dealership that has customers in more states than Moab Auto Group.
“We have sold cars to people from almost every state,” says Carolyn Tibbetts, the office manager, “Alaska, New York. Even Bobby Kennedy’s relative bought a car from us.”
Tibbetts would know. She has worked at the Ford dealership for nearly 23 years. “Lots of these tourists come through and break down, then end up buying a new car from us,” she said.
Getting tourists driving off the lot in new cars isn’t enough. Focusing on building quality relationships and trust with the local community is the other half of what keeps Moab Auto Group’s sales strong, according to general manager Norm Knapp.
Moab Auto Group traces its roots back to 1986, when Ron Nagel opened up his Ford dealership. Nagel ran the dealership for two decades before Tony Basso purchased it from him in 2007. A year before that Basso had purchased Moab’s Chevy dealership, a business that had always been in friendly competition with Nagel’s.
With the purchase of the Ford dealership Basso became the only car dealership owner in town and Moab Auto Group was born. The auto group was added to a long list of restaurants, bars, RV parks and other businesses Basso owns, mostly in Price, his primary residence.
After the purchase Basso asked Knapp, who was an old friend with over twenty years experience in the car business, to move from southwest Wyoming and manage his investment. Knapp accepted and in April of 2007, he and his family arrived in Moab.
Earlier this year Basso and Knapp decided to open State Wide Auto and RV Liquidators.
“We didn’t have enough space to house all the cars here, so we had to open State Wide,” Knapp said.
State Wide sells used cars that are in good condition, while Ford and Chevy sell both new and used. They can also find you a car from any other manufacturer, said sales consultant Heidi Blake.
What kinds of cars are locals buying?
“People still buy a lot of trucks, same as when I got here,” Tibbetts said.
Ford’s biggest seller is the F150 while Chevy moves more 2500s off the lot than any other car. Moab Auto Group also rents out cars and SUVs.
The auto group may be the only game in town, but they are committed to getting locals the best deals possible on their cars.
“We keep our prices competitive with Grand Junction so locals can buy them,” Blake said.
While good prices may get people in the door, it’s the service they receive that brings them back, said recent customer and long-time Moab resident Mark Fowler, who recently purchased a Ford Fusion and a Lincoln Navigator from Blake.
“We just told Heidi what we were looking for, the price range and she found it right there on the lot,” said Fowler, “They made everything so easy. No ‘I’ll need to go talk to the manager’ kind of games. I never once felt any pressure.”
That – combined with the little extras like free oil changes, detailing and a courtesy car – will have him coming back in the future.