BY KATHY KAHN
It’s not many businesses that can boast lasting three generations, but Jonathan Stern, his father and grandfather must have been hard-wired into the automobile industry at birth.
“We’ve always loved this business,” said Stern, sitting in his Blauvelt Nissan showroom, which is celebrating a quarter-century of serving the county and surrounding area through both good times and bad.
Originally located in Nyack, Stern moved Rockland Nissan (www.rocklandnissan.com) to Blauvelt in 2006—two years later, the Great Recession rocked the nation.
“It was a struggle for everyone, and we were no exception,” said Stern, who managed to keep the dealership going by asking top management (including himself) to take pay cuts, enabling the dealership to retain its staff of 60 employees at their regular pay during what seemed to be a world turned upside down.
“We weathered the storm, and now banks, which were leery of lending the first three or four years after the September, 2008 crash, started working once more with customers by 2012,” he said. “Many people who lost their jobs either reinvented themselves or found new ones, so the banks eased up.”
Rockland Nissan is going to end 2015 selling 3,000 cars and has 6,000 customers who service their cars regularly at the dealership on Route 303. Along with his staff of salesmen and mechanics, Stern has two stalwart co-workers by his side: Time O’Keefe, general manager, and Nicole Dunn, customer relationship manager. “With a great team, we have kept things going full steam ahead, even when we hit a curve in the road,” said Stern.
To celebrate 25 years in business, the dealership is having a drawing that will appeal to many: A 2015 Nissan Altima 2.5S the dealership will give, lease-free, for two years to the lucky winner. “We pay the first two years of the lease—the winner pays nothing—and if he or she decides they don’t want the car, they just give it back,” said O’Keefe.
The ballot box in the showroom is open to anyone who comes through the door. “At 11:59PM on December 31, we’ll draw the winning name,” said O’Keefe. “The winner has 24 hours to respond. (No doubt many will have one eye on the phone and another on the TV as they watch the ball drop this New Year’s Eve!)
Rockland Nissan has also gifted The Salvation Army with $1,500 to do with as they see fit to help those in need, whether it is food, clothing or another immediate need. In addition to a yearly donation to Ronald McDonald House, Nicole Dunn has added the annual Toys for Tots program to Rockland Nissan’s roster.
“If you want to stay connected to the community, you have to give back,” said Stern. “Our customers are our lifeblood, and we want them to leave 100 per cent happy. We also want to show our appreciation for their continued business,” said Stern. “You don’t last in any business if your customers aren’t satisfied!”