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We went to the grand opening of Gianelli’s Vineyards new tasting room. To say that we were pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. My wife and I are veterans of many wine tastings. We are far from being experts, but we know what we like.
Gianelli’s is located at 18263 Main St. in downtown Jamestown, Ca. We found charming people in a lovely setting. We were offered samples of a variety of wines. Things went smoothly until the Cabernet Sauvigon was served.
Do you ever wonder what perfection might taste like? It has aromas of mint and dark chocolate that are married to toasty oak flavors. Quite simply the best Cab we have had the joy to experience. The dichotomy that we experienced next caught us by surprise.
Lorie Gianelli poured us a glass of 2007 Nino. This is a special blend dedicated to Ron’s father, Nino. This is a blend of Grenache 60%, Petite Sirah 20%, Dolcetto 17% And Sangiovese 3% all Gianelli Vineyards Estate grown. I thought that I tasted the apogee of generations of winemaking techniques and vineyard stewardship.
You need to decide on your own which is the best. I am saving a bottle of Nino for the soonest possible special occasion. I hope some friends hurry and visit us.
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Like most kids in high school, I had car. Mine was a 1971 Ford Ranchero. The Ranchero was based on a station wagon chassis. It had the front end of a sporty car and the utility of a pick up bed.
Early 70’s cars came with some of the most potent V-8 motors. The 351 cubic inch “Cleveland” motor was in mine. It was mated to a C-6 automatic transmission. Good acceleration, high top speed and very dependable. We added headers and a Holley carburetor to increase the performance.
One of my favorite features was the bench seat. There is nothing like driving around with your best girl sitting next to you. A good-looking ride, all shined up with a babe sitting as close as possible. Talk about being on top of the world. I wish that I still had one…I mean the Ranchero.
Riding in the back of a pickup used to be legal. My Ranchero was packed with people many a time for various road trips, especially to Zuma Beach. Put a little air in the High Jacker rear shocks and it would handle the load. I would drive down Malibu Canyon with Don and Chris… brothers Larry and Rodney…Floyd and George, two in the front and five in the back. With Peter Frampton, or, Elton John playing on the 8-track. We were going to the beach to look at girls. The 70’s were a great decade at least what I can recall..
We took a lot of pride in our cars back in those days. I washed and waxed my Ranchero hundreds of times. I knew that is was special. It was more than just a set of wheels, because I had custom pinstripes. To a car buff, what makes a good paint job stand out is flair. Pin striping is usually two different colors, one to set off the body color and one to make it stand out, almost a 3-D effect. Freehand pinstriping is the most difficult, but it permits almost unrestricted creativity.
My Ranchero was pinstriped by a master my friend Gary. Gary had a body shop in town that did paint and body work. But custom car fans knew it was home to one of the premier pin strip artist. It transformed my paint job into a work of art. I got to watch him do some of the Ranchero and I was in awe of the lines and designs he would create.
I really enjoyed those days. I have many great memories in the Ranchero. My whole life was in front of me. I had the freedom to go anywhere in my Ranchero. That is still part of the draw of being in car sales, being able to connect to people on what really makes them happy about driving. Finding the little things that really make a difference.
At our store, Sierra Motors, in Jamestown CA. we don’t pay our sales people on price or profit. We pay on one simple detail; customer satisfaction. If you aren’t satisfied we shouldn’t be doing it. I want you to be as satisfied as I was with Gary’s pin stripes.
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YOU GOT ME AGAIN
Over the loud speaker I hear the floor manager page me: wonderful, I have a customer asking for me. It is a young lady named Nancy. It is her second visit to the lot, but this time there is a guy with her. As I’m greeting Nancy the guy interjects “I’m her brother”. Nancy gives an odd reaction. Nancy came back to see a used Camaro. While we’re going over it, her “brother’ is offering a lot of objections.
The plan seems clear divide and conquer, besides who is this guy? Nancy is ready for a test drive, perfect. I got in the Camaro and locked the doors. I pulled it up to Nancy and put her in her driver’s seat. Her “brother” was trying to get in the other side but it was locked. I went around to the passenger door and used the key to open it and squeezed in front of the brother and quickly closed the door. I told Nancy “let’s go” and she went.
As we left the first thing she said is “that’s not my brother, he’s a salesman from another dealership”. She went on to explain that when she told him that she was coming to see me to look at a car that he insisted on going, so that he could make sure she got a good deal. She told me that she couldn’t get rid of him. “No problem” I assured Nancy.
We finished the test drive and went in a separate entrance. Nancy and I went directly into a finance office and finalized the deal. The Finance Manager came in and signed all of the documents with her. All the while her “brother” was running around the dealership looking for a way to disrupt the sale, but to no avail.
As she was taking delivery and leaving the dealership, I told her not to worry about the other salesman (her brother) and that I would take care of him. She smiled, thanked me and left. Her “Brother” watched as she pulled away. I walked up to him and was going to ask if he needed a ride. “You got me again” was all I heard.
I wondered what he meant, until he said “I was the guy across the street that you came and took your customer from last year”. I thought hard for a second, “What in the…Oh yeah… That guy.” I remember having a customer asking for me. It was Julio and I was about 20 minutes from arriving at work. “Tell Julio I’ll be there in 15!” off I ran to work. When I arrived I saw Julio’s car that I had sold him last time parked out front, but no Julio.
A New Nissan pulls up behind Julio’s car. It’s Julio on a test drive with a salesperson from Nissan. I watch as they pull into the dealership across the street. Only one thing strikes me as a course of action. I walk into the dealership across the street and directly up to Julio. “Hi Julio, just want to let you know I am ready when you are”. “I’ll be there in a minute”, Julio replies with a smile.
The salesman instantly turned bright red, sort of stomped his feet and blurted out, “thanks a lot! “ So I walked back to my dealership and waited. Julio came back over and we had another completely satisfied customer in no time.
A year later and I had never thought about the other salesman again. Who’d of known? Even after both encounters, I couldn’t bring myself to apologize. He called somebody to pick him up.
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“Who is the old guy that hangs out around here?” I asked. “That’s Sarge, He’s the eyes and ears of the owner, watch it”, was the common reply. I was new in the car business, but, a guy who watches and tells didn’t seem right to me. I didn’t know anything about the guy except that he was old, short and I didn’t trust him. So I made a point of making my position known to him.
I was in a small used car office when Sarge walked in. I don’t even remember what I said to him other than something to piss him off. Apparently this time it did. No sooner did the words leave my lips than Sarge jumped over the desk and put me up against the wall. He grabbed my necktie and spun it around as to restrict my airway. This old, short, retired Sergeant was in the middle of calling me a “smart ass” when I calmly asked him to let me go. I learned that strength is better displayed through endurance then fighting back.
Over the next 20 years I learned a lot more from Sarge. He was a non-commissioned pilot in WWII. He flew supplies to Patton. He dropped Para-troopers into battle. Sarge landed in North Africa and was captured by Rommel. He was a Prisoner of War. Marching through the snow going into Germany he escaped. His description of hiding in French sewers has forever affected any possible positive thoughts of the French and the smell of their food. Sarge talked about getting smuggled across the English Channel in a fishing boat. He said that he spent three weeks drinking before reporting back to duty.
When describing the flack burst that left him peppered with shrapnel, shredded the cockpit of his Bomber and killed his co-pilot, He said “After a couple of minutes you realize that what you feel, running warm down your leg, must not be piss”. Bleeding, he landed that plane.
Sarges told me with tears in his eyes, that he would much rather tell me of the women that he knew and the alcohol he drank, instead of the friends that he lost.
It was a privilege to have learned respect from my friend. I still can’t believe that he jumped over that desk. But I know I’m better for it. Thanks you old goat, for allowing me to learn self worth in a common moment, in a small used car office.
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PILLOW BACK SEATS
As with a lot of people, some of the activities that I participated in during my youth were less than respectful endeavors. It was during my first year in car sales and after one of “those” nights in 1984, that I showed up to work more than a little hung over.
July in the Mojave Desert is hot, dry, dusty and windy. I had been out almost all night and came to work in less than stellar condition. This was not all that unusual for me at the time. It was in the middle of the day and about 107 degrees in the shade. I was dehydrated from last night’s alcohol consumption. I don’t think I slept at all, as a matter of fact it was, “AN ALL NIGHTER”. But here I am in a dress shirt, slacks and a tie …”Ready to dance’.
In comes a nice older Gentleman. He is driving an older Caprice. He wants to look at a new Caprice Classic Brougham. You remember the really cool one that had the quarter vinyl roofs… Hood ornaments and white wall tires of course they were standard. This one had these really nice pillow back seats and the ride was so smooth. Don’t forget the wire wheel covers. It reminded me of the one they drove to do the circumcision, on Saturday Night Live.
The Gentleman says that he would like to take it on the freeway. That sounded great to me. We had had the A/C on for a little while and it was so nice and cool inside. Those pillow-back seats must have been really comfortable. We got on the freeway and headed north, I fell asleep.
It’s hard to judge how much time passes when you’re asleep. But when I opened my eyes I soon realized that we were almost to Mojave. I suggested that we turn around now. We did and went back to the dealership. He liked the Brougham, so he traded his Caprice in and bought it.
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My Dad has a friend, Lovell. I have never heard anything but good about this guy. He is a gentleman in his 60’s and has a passion for his beliefs. I have had a few opportunities to converse with Lovell, and always enjoyed the conversation.
Lovell came to the dealership to look around. He was going to be in the market for another car soon. One of our nicest salespeople was with him. They spent a lot of time going over what he was looking for. They looked at more than a few cars. They spent time on options and safety equipment. Then there were a couple of test drives.
Prior to working in a best price up front environment, I always used to say, “That I could afford to give cars away to my friends because so many people wanted to negotiate.” If anybody would just come in and ask me to take care of them, I would. If someone didn’t trust me and thought that they could out negotiate us to get a better deal, that’s when we made most of our profit. Lovell wasn’t sure what position he was going to take on this issue, but I knew; he was a friend of my Dad’s.
We gave Lovell the absolute best price that we could right up front. Lovell liked the car; it fit his needs and was in his price range. It was a simple cash deal. Lovell put a stop to the sale “I would buy the car right now but I forgot my checkbook”. Poker is a dish best served with a winning hand. I had to call his bluff.
“My Dad trust’ you, so I trust you”, I continued, “So go ahead and take the car home and when you find your check book come back in and pay for it”. This stymied Lovell. We sat there, quietly for what seemed like a long couple of minutes.
Lovell did what I hoped that he would do. He reached into his back pocket and opened up not one, but two checkbooks and wrote checks from each for the purchase. He drove that car for a few years until he was in an accident. He fell asleep at the wheel and went up an embankment. The car was airborne and landed on its roof. He was completely unhurt. He came in and bought another one.
I think what doesn’t occur to people, even good honest people like Lovell, lying to a salesperson is still lying, which when I think about it, is the only defense a customer has.
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SPORTY GIRLFRIEND, SPORTY CAR
Being in the car business for 26 years I have been on a lot of test-drives, mostly uneventful. Once in a while a driver can get away from you.
The new Camaro Z-28 was an impressive car. It had the designation H.O., for high output. The unmistakable V-8 rumble brought a note of performance. It could be matched with a five-speed manual transmission. T-tops seemed to make the car complete. A great road car, built for the enjoyment of the driver.
Vern came into the dealership and was immediately drawn to the new Camaro. He asked questions about the cars performance. I told him about the fuel injection, the Goodyear Eagle tires, five-speed transmission and rack & pinion steering. We talked acceleration and top speed. Vern seemed very interested in the limits of the Camaro. The only thing that seemed out of the ordinary was that Vern was 83 years young.
I grabbed a dealer plate and made a copy of his driver’s license, ready to go. You gotta love the sound of the V-8 when it comes to life, nice and throaty. Vern seems very comfortable behind the wheel. He heads straight for the freeway. So far everything is good. As Vern pulls onto the freeway, he has his foot heavy on the accelerator.
From 50 mph to 100 mph takes only a couple of seconds when you are on the gas hard. “VERN!!!” I said loud and direct, but receiving no response. Vern kept his foot buried on the accelerator. We shot passed 120 mph…a lot of things crossed my mind…from this is a dangerous speed to this guy is 83 years old.
I actually yelled at Vern “SLOWDOWN!!!”. Vern looked at me with his foot still on the gas and stated emphatically, “Look I got a sporty younger girlfriend and I need a sporty car”! I didn’t think Vern was very happy with me as we ended the test drive. He said that he would be back tomorrow and would let me know. “Great… another passenger on the be-back bus”, I muttered to myself.
The next day to my surprise 83-year-old Vern came in with his 75-year-old sporty younger girlfriend. He told her all of the performance specs and how great it drove. She listened and nodded. He wrote a check for the new manual transmission Camaro Z-28 with t-tops and signs all of the paperwork. They are both all smiles.
He burnt rubber pulling away from the dealership and got scratch going into second and third gear. Sporty indeed.
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First & foremost, I love my nephew Mikey and am very proud of him. I am positive that Mike was born to be a Marine. He took to boot camp like a duck to water. He is on his second tour in the Middle East. He is currently stationed in Iraq. A man that volunteered to go into harms way for the protection of others, what a Stud. He and his wife Stephanie are just good people.
Just before Mike was set to go, I asked him what he wanted to do before he left Lancaster. His answer was as simple and straightforward as the man himself, “ride Five Deer”. We have ridden mountain bikes together for years. This one trail is special. It is lovingly called “the toughest downhill you will ever climb”. Although only 12 miles long, it is full of intense, rocky, rutted, windswept, breathtaking fun. In other words just right for the occasion.
Our early morning start was greeted with gusting 35mph winds and rain clouds. The best place to park is where Spunky Canyon road and Bouquet Canyon road meet. The cloud level was about 20 feet over our heads. Off we went. The ride started with a five mile climb. The steepness and lack of traction was compensated by horizontally blowing stinging rain. Sometimes I could just make out Mikes silhouette ahead of me in the clouds.
Upon reaching the summit we are usually greeted by a great view, not today. We rode a couple of miles along the ridgeline to get to the trailhead. The actual force of the storm up on the ridge was awesome. We found the trailhead, ate a couple of power gels and took off down Five Deer. It is a narrow trail with little room for error. The wheel swallowing ruts that have head size rocks in them were now filling with runoff water. The technical climbing portions were even more fun. An epic ride.
We were soaked, muddy, breathing hard and smiling ear to ear. This is a ride that has to be experienced. We somehow reached the fast portion of the ride and went blazing down the road back to our truck. Barreling down hill I spotted a major mud pit just ahead. With Mike just in front of me, I had to time it just right. Expending all remaining energy to accelerate, I hit the mud just in front of mike and covered him with thick southern California mud. We coasted to the truck, laughing.
I could not imagine a better way to send off Mike. It was a perfect day. Did I mention that I love my nephew and am very proud of him?
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HAPPY WE MOVED HERE
With all of the commotion about dealerships closing, you might be amazed that as General Manager of Sierra Motors, I am happy to be here.
When John called and asked me to come to Jamestown California from Boise Idaho, I had no idea what to expect. John explained things to me in a very direct manner. Sierra Motors is very important to the community. We are a very large employer. We generate tax dollars for the local community. We take care of people the way a business is supposed to care of them, like they are all friends of the owner. We offer the fairest way possible to do business, one low price, plain & simple…always. For being one of the biggest career moves of our lives, it was a quick & easy decision. Let’s roll.
One of the keys to the continued viability of Sierra Motors is very simply CSI, Customer Satisfaction Index. Out of a possible 4.00 our 12 month score is 3.96. That puts us among the very top of the top in the entire western third of the United States. Rarified air indeed.
That speaks volumes about our departments. In sales, service, parts or body shop, we are committed to your satisfaction.
We have lived in places like the Mojave Desert and Boise, never in an actual forest. Our amazing agent, Michelle A’dair found us the ideal place to live, Comstock Ranch in the hills above Sonora. We are on just less than three acres of solid Oak, Cedar and Pine trees, at an altitude of 3600’. I am not sure of all of the varieties of animals that walk through our place, more Deer than we can count and a variety of singing birds to name a few. Our dog even found a skunk nearby.
We know how important communication is so we have created the first social network for this area. You can make your own web page, write about your event, down load pictures, videos, and stories @ GOLD OF THE MOTHER LODE and it’s free.
It is a peaceful, serene home with just enough snow in the winter and all of the wonderful fresh air of the forest the rest of the time. Friends and family can’t get enough of it when they come to visit. I have regular fishing buddies that have taken me to some fun and productive places. What a beautiful place to hike through. We already have a favorite place to eat, Koto’s Japanese in downtown Sonora. Ogowa is the real deal, a traditional Sushi chef.
So, Sierra Motors is here to stay. We will continue to offer value, great prices and friendly service. If you have any questions or need assistance contact me directly. I am looking forward to getting to know more local people. I have met most of my neighbors and enjoy them. I have also met almost every business owner in Jamestown and am proud to be associated with them. See you soon.
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THE PLAID SUIT AND A SIX PACK
We all have our stereotypes. How we judge people by type or occupation. But who do you know that actually fulfills their look, implicitly? During my life in car sales there has been only one, Rick, who actually owns a plaid suit? No, no, no… a different plaid suit for every day of the week? He might have had enough to cover the whole month. It seemed like a never ending visual assault of plaid.
Not just plaid sport coats, but plaid suits. Sometimes even with plaid ties. Now that I think about it…plaid socks. What an eye full. Rick joined our cast of characters and never looked back. If you ask him he’d say he was there first. Rick has even been likened to a cockroach. Nothing, I mean nothing, not even a nuclear blast could remove Rick from the dealership.
Aside from his attire, Rick has an exceptional skill of listening, listening for the little things that can make all of the difference.
Springtime on the lot and Rick greets a nice family, a typical family with Mom, Dad & 2.3 kids. They meet, they talk, and they find common ground. The Husband mentions the fact that he drinks about a six-pack a day and the wife shares her discord. They are interested in a Pickup. They settle on a well equipped one and go for a test drive. After the drive they are all in agreement that this is the right truck for the family and Dad in particular enjoys the fit.
The Husband then says “I hafta get back to work”. The wife says, “No problem, I’ll finish up the negotiation.” It was little different than normal, but no problem. Rick and the wife fill out all of the paperwork. Rick makes his presentation of all the figures. He goes over the selling price, the trade value, the down payment and the monthly payment. She looks everything over and says “well this sure is the right truck” and the kids all smile, “but the payment is about $25 over our budget”, sadly she shared.
A moment to reflect and then Rick ask’ a simple question, “What does a six-pack of beer cost”? She answered with a frown, “About five dollars a day.” Rick leaned over to the wife. “Do you think that your husband would cut down on his beer drinking in order to get his new truck”
She starts to smile “I can do better than that”. So she calls her husband at work. “Honey, I’ve got a deal for you”. “If you agree to only buy a six pack every other day, you can have your new truck”. There is a lengthy pause. “Yes, I’ll do it” says the husband finally, anxious to get his new truck.
Now the wife says to Rick “I have been trying to get him to cut down on his beer consumption for years and you finally did it, thank you”. “I will never buy from anyone else!” She had gotten everything she wanted and more; his truck, her payment and an agreement to cut down on alcohol consumption. All courtesy of the guy in plaid, Rick, who listened to the little things.
Rick smiled as they hugged and the kids cheered, finished with the delivery Rick got off work and went and had a beer… or six.