Parts and Service Director Bryan Cady: “I love working here. I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to help start a dealership from the ground up and watch it grow. I was very fortunate to be able to get some terrific employees, and being here has exceeded my expectations.” Bryan has 29 years of experience in the industry, and it’s his leadership that has helped Kia of North Grand Rapids place in the top 50 out of more than 700 dealerships in Customer Satisfaction Index scores.
Steve Stefanits, Kia Elite Master Technician: Part of a father-son dynamic duo in our service department, Steve came to Kia of North Grand Rapids with 28 years of experience, including six with Kia. “I have been interested in cars for as long as I can remember,” Steve said. “I have been able to turn a hobby of mine into a job.”
Jeremy Stefanits, Kia Elite Master Techician: Jeremy is following in his dad’s footsteps after a time working in an automotive paint and body shop. He got his first exposure to cars at age 14 when he and his father took an old car and rebuilt it from the ground up. “We stripped it all the way down to the frame,” he said.
Dave Kasper, Michigan State Certified Technician: Dave has 35 years of experience, so there isn’t much he hasn’t seen during his career. Since coming to us in February, he’s been wowed by the Kia brand’s overall quality and design. “I know what I do and I talk to the other technicians. We don’t see the same problems happening over and over again, and that speaks to how well-made Kias are.”
Caroline Ortiz is the newest addition to Kia of North Grand Rapids’ sales team, and she’s very happy to be here. She came to the auto industry after being involved with newspaper advertising and marketing for El Informer. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, her parents moved to the United States when she was growing up – first to Florida for a year before settling in Michigan.
“Being fluent in Spanish allows me to help the Hispanic community here in Grand Rapids,” she says. “A lot of people tell me that at other dealerships, the salespeople tell them what car to buy – but people don’t like that. I help my customers get the car that they want, that meets all their needs. Even if someone has bad credit or no credit, quite often we are able to help them – which is a big thing, because everybody needs a car.”
It’s Caroline’s helpful nature that has already made her a big hit with customers. “I am still learning about things here at the dealership, but the biggest thing is that I treat everyone like a family member,” she explained. “I don’t believe in tricks or playing games, and there is nothing hidden. I help customers buy a car, rather than selling them one.”
Caroline has two daughters and is engaged to be married to her fiancée, Jose. She enjoys quality time with her daughters when she’s not at work.
Greg Haman has sold cars for two decades, but has never encountered a dealership quite like Kia of North Grand Rapids.
“Our dealership is a little different from others,” Greg explained. “Our salespeople operate as a team. We help each other out as much as we can. It isn’t like other places, where the salespeople are essentially competitors. Our customers appreciate that, because they know they’re going to get great service from us, and we are looking out for their best interests.”
Greg says it’s also a big advantage to sell Kia products. “They’re the best-built vehicles on the road today,” he says. “The studies support that fact … and then, the vehicles are also backed by a warranty no one else can beat. In addition, Kia has done more for safety in the last decade or so than anyone else. There was a time when Kia was struggling to keep up with everyone else, but today it’s the other way around. You see other manufacturers trying to be like Kia. It’s a great thing when you can look a customer in the eye and tell him or her that your products are the best on the market.”
In July, Greg and his wife, Sandi, celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. The couple has seven children and 15 grandchildren. In addition to family time and being very active in his church, Greg confesses an affinity for Harley-Davidson motorcycles. “I’ve been riding since I was 14,” he says.
In his 11 years in the automotive business, Patric Hansen has never seen anything quite like Kia of North Grand Rapids. “For one thing, I was very eager to be part of a team that built a brand-new dealership and helped it grow into something big,” he said. “Big things are happening here already, after just one month, and the family atmosphere the owners have put in place in such a short time has been fantastic.”
He is thoroughly enjoying his job so far. “As Sales Managers, Justin (Wagenshutz) and I get involved much earlier in the sales process,” Patric said. “When the manager is introduced to the customer right away, they feel more relaxed. I have had so many customers tell me how great it is that the typical back-and-forth that goes on during negotiations has been eliminated.”
Patric says Kia’s warranty and quality are obviously very appealing to customers, but he says the styling of today’s Kias are what completes a terrific all-around buying experience for them. “Ever since Peter Schreyer left Audi and took over the job of handling Kia’s designs, they have improved so much,” he says.
Born in Grand Rapids, Patric spent several years of his early childhood elsewhere before returning home. He and his wife, Sara, have been married for five years. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf and watching his two favorite teams play – the Michigan Wolverines and the New England Patriots.
Eric Rzentkowski is a bit of a throwback when it comes to his automotive dealership management style. “I am not the typical guy who sits behind a desk pushing papers,” Eric said. “My job is very simple. I am here at Kia of North Grand Rapids to be an asset to our customers, to my coworkers, and to the community. The new owners have given me a great opportunity, and I am very excited to be here.”
Because he was one of the first employees hired, he was able to witness the construction of the dealership almost from Day One. “The first time I walked in this place, it was terrible. It looked like a war zone. But here we are 90 days later, and the place looks brand-new. The environment is open and inviting; I tell people everything works so well together it’s like a well-decorated Christmas tree.”
This is Eric’s second time at a Kia dealership, as he previously spent two years at another store. “You get as much, if not more, value from a Kia than anything else out there,” Eric said. “Just as important, you don’t find warranties like the one you get when you buy a new Kia. They’re basically telling you they’ll stand behind them longer than anyone else. They couldn’t do that if their cars weren’t among the best in the business.
Eric is a Milwaukee native who enjoys the traveling, going to the gym, and tackling the occasional complex culinary project. “The challenge of making something new is a stress reliever to me,” he says.
Bryan Cady and the folks in his parts and service departments are going through a bit of a unique experience at the moment. “Because our dealership just recently opened, we really don’t have a whole lot of service customers just yet,” he said. “Over time, of course, that will change.”
When it does, Bryan and his team will be ready – because Bryan understands the importance of his department very well. “The salesperson sells a customer their first car, but it’s the service department that sells them their next 10 cars,” Bryan said. “When you can build relationships with your customers, it makes a huge difference. The customer enters the service department with the feeling that they’re coming to see friends … and it makes their experience that much better.”
Bryan’s service team consists of four technicians (two of whom are Kia certified) and one quick lube tech. “Even though we’ve only been here a short time, there is already this unbelievable family atmosphere here at Kia of North Grand Rapids,” Bryan says. “I knew there would be, because of the guys who own the dealership; they wouldn’t have it any other way, and that’s why I wanted to work here.”
Bryan and his wife, Susan, have been together a long time; they were high school sweethearts. The couple has two daugheters, ages 23 and 18. Bryan is a big music fan, and was once the drummer of a band called New Vintage that played classic rock cover songs.