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Sep 20th
Vroom, Vroom! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Sell, BT Contributor   
September 2019

Warren Henry revs up the register as neighbor Prestige Imports accelerates

LPix_MarkSell_9-19ike art in public places?

How about more cars?

Sometime this month or next, the individual balconies of the new Warren Henry Jaguar-Land Rover-Infiniti-Koenigsegg dealership and corporate headquarters should pop with 48 snazzy, backlit vehicles.

The structure, located at 2300 NE 151st St., just east of Biscayne Boulevard at Solé Mia, is massive: seven levels 119 feet tall and 800,000 square feet holding 2000 parking spaces; 82 service bays; and 46 electric charging stations, with capacity for 350; a 100,000-square-foot showroom; a gourmet café and lounge; what is purported to be the world’s largest Land Rover dealership; and a giant rooftop, where the dealer is planning skyline celebrations for Art Basel and Super Bowl LIV.

On the west side of the Boulevard, in North Miami Beach, young luxury-performance car mogul Brett David of Prestige Imports and Lamborghini Miami is also vaulting forward. David, who owns more than ten acres from 147th to 153rd streets, is sprucing up the north side of 151st Street with Prestige Auto Spa, a 17,000-square-foot upscale car wash with concierge service; Juice & Java, a health food-themed restaurant; and retail. His marketing team is keeping mum, but don’t be surprised if Prestige joins in the vertical trend.

For now, the Warren Henry dealership and general contractor Pirtle Construction are hustling to finish after two years of delays, environmental issues, and undisclosed project costs well north of the original $60 million. First, mechanics will start migrating from the 17 acres at 20860 NW 2nd Ave. to the new five-acre, vertical quarters. Then 1200 cars will move to the new building, with people from sales and corporate.

That’s just what greets the eye. Pop the hood and there’s more.

Cars are more intricate than ever, as any tinkerer knows who cut his greasy paws on that Plymouth Slant-Six or Volkswagen Beetle. So is business.

Yet in this age of 5G connectivity, AI, driverless cars, complex leasing, financing, and insurance dealer arrangements, one rule remains: If you want to stay the course in the car business, you still need the Bug.

The Bug means 72-hour workweeks, smiling to customers in the heat as sweat soaks through your white shirt, getting to know your car dealer dad by joining him at work because he’s not at home, and looking after your health.

It means finding the best way forward when staying put could kill your business. It means upending your model to make it process-driven with metrics and accountability, which Warren Henry Zinn did in 2007, just in time for the Great Recession, and for which he credits the dealership’s very survival. Now, as the world’s economy dangles again, it means going with your gut and brain on the next bet. It means honoring thy father, being a mensch, and giving back to charities.

Zinn, 64 years old, and Brett David, just turning 32, are separately advancing family traditions, because that’s how they grew up. Zinn and his younger brother Craig both started in the car business helping their car-dealer dad, David Zinn, on Miami Beach before they were 12. Warren Henry Zinn opened his first Volvo dealership at age 21 (he sold it in 2014). Warren’s son, Larry, age 33, caught the Bug, too, and is now group general manager and partner. Brother Craig Zinn has his own auto dynasty -- Craig Zinn Automotive in Broward.

Brett David took over his car dealership in 2007 at age 19, after his father, Irvin, passed away from a sudden heart attack on his 56th birthday. Since then, the son has revved up his dad’s legacy by gunning it to the floor, selling well over $1 billion in luxury cars, and expanding into aviation and luxury boats. In 2015, he sold Prestige Audi for $80 million-plus, the largest single-store sale in Audi history. He has since spent judiciously and expanded social media presence with an inviting showroom.

On the east side, the new Warren Henry headquarters will accommodate Warren Henry Jaguar, Land Rover North Dade, Warren Henry Infiniti, and Koenigsegg Florida, named for a Swedish limited-production hypercar on par with Bugatti and Pagani. Brett David is one of three licensed Pagani dealers in the country.

Any of those three brands can set you back $2.5-$5 million and can zip at 250 mph on 1200 horses and with roughly 11-13 miles per gallon.

In the past three years, Warren Henry has opened Broward’s first Lamborghini dealership in Davie and a new Audi showroom in Gainesville -- or ten dealerships total from Gainesville to Key West. When Warren Henry moves, it will nearly double its vehicle capacity and expand its cramped corporate offices nearly a dozenfold, to 40,000 square feet.

“We’re working to future-proof this building. This was a very large project beyond the resources and sophistication of most people,” says Warren Henry CFO and vice president Erik Day, who also chairs of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association. The high-tech amenities were one aspect of construction. Building over a former landfill was another, requiring a $7 million dynamic compaction to stabilize the soil.

The structure has Fort Knox thickness, suitable for riding out a hurricane or tornado, with 180-mph-certified hurricane windows, and LEED Gold certification, a high standard of sustainability and power saving in building.

Warren Henry is hiring, growing its workforce from 250 to 450. At a July 29 job fair at FIU’s Kovens Center, Zinn welcomed about 30 prospective technicians. “We’ve all worked together,” he said, “and try to create the best possible working environment with great benefits and a great career path moving forward.” Within three weeks, five had been hired, with plenty of openings at all levels.

Trainees start at $15 an hour, which can scale up to $26 through eight levels of Auto Service Excellence (ASE) mechanical training, and then over the years to $44 an hour or more. It’s not unusual to break into the six figures, says service director Dayron Gonzalez.

To entice technicians to stay, Warren Henry offers air-conditioned garages, food delivery, tuition reimbursements, a fitness center with showers, onsite dry cleaning, and individual lockers for tools. That matters, since mechanics can pay $5000 or even $10,000 out of pocket for a proper set of tools. Warren Henry regularly wins prizes as best dealerships to work for from Automotive News and J.D. Power.

Have we mentioned the possible commuter rail transit stop at 151st Street and Biscayne, with apartments and transit-oriented development?

No?

Well, while waiting for the rail service to come and the red light to change, pull over and check out those cars.

 

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