South Wales salesman Ronnie Jones has arguably the widest experience in the local motor trade, as wide as the Atlantic Ocean.
The White Dove Skoda sales executive started with the Cardiff-based dealership earlier this spring when he returned to his Welsh homeland after a career selling cars in America and Germany.
A native of Abertysswg, near Caerphilly, Ronnie started work in a sofa factory near Ebbw Vale but wanted to expand his horizons and at the age of 23, he went to Germany to visit a friend who was working at the US Air Force base in Ramstein selling cars to the servicemen.
Ronnie liked the operation and impressed the dealership manager who offered him a job there and then, and Ronnie never looked back for six years.
The dealership on the base sold everything from motor bikes to cars and pickups as well as vans, so Ronnie gained a lot of experience across the sectors and met his wife to be.
He transferred to the United States with the company and was going to work on its sales operation to naval staff on an aircraft carrier but he did not relish the thought of being away from his wife for weeks on end at sea.
Instead, he walked into a Honda dealership in their home town in Arizona and asked if they had any sales jobs, and he was hired on the spot.
“I was salesman of the year in 2001 for the whole town and was appointed used car sales director,” said Ronnie. “ I looked after cars, vans and trucks, everything we sold, and had seven salesmen working under me.
“In the US it’s a very competitive business selling cars with long hours and I couldn’t go if a deal was being done at the last minute.”
He said, “When the economic slump hit in the 2008 the business was struggling and I moved to the east coast with a four day drive across country.
“I found another sales job working on the showroom floor for three months before I was promoted by a guy who had worked in Europe and became my mentor in the business.”
The size of car sales in the US can be gauged by the fact his dealership was selling between 400 and 500 new vehicles a month, about 40 times what a typical UK dealership might be selling and all sales are commission driven with no basic salary for executives, and they get just one week’s unpaid holiday. Some dealerships in large towns would have 40 salesmen on its books and there might, for instance, be five dealerships selling the same brand in the town.
“That’s why it’s so competitive, they have to sell or they don’t get paid and those in senior sales positions took a small percentage of the business underwritten,” he added.
Ronnie said he eventually returned to the UK last autumn when he became home-sick and joined White Dove Skoda on 1 March.
So is it easier than in the US? “It’s still hard work although not as aggressive and there are fewer rival dealerships selling your brand in a particular area, but best of all it’s home.”