Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Fred Jones Maps `True Blue' Expansion Strategy

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Fred Jones Maps `True Blue' Expansion Strategy

Article excerpt

Assistant Managing Editor

It started as an advertising concept to highlight the best customer perceptions of the Fred Jones Automotive Group.

It became instead a corporate strategy for the entire Fred Jones Companies as the privately-owned and expanding conglomerate begins drafting plans for its 75th anniversary.

The "True Blue Fred Jones" ad campaign, developed with Oklahoma's largest advertising firm, Ackerman McQueen of Oklahoma City, stresses the core of all Fred Jones operations, according to Boots Hall, chairman and chief executive officer. It reflects the firm's drive toward expansion while remaining founded upon customer satisfaction strengths dating back to the Sept. 1, 1922 opening of Fred Jones Ford.

"It's the one thing that says who we are, what we have been," he said. "It's something that I honestly believe my grandfather would be very proud of."

The phrase "True Blue," drawn over a year-long study of customer focus groups, is "an all-encompasing statement" representing both the firm's 71-year heritage and its promise for the long-term future. It has already had one major impact _ the adoption of "one-price" selling at all Fred Jones franchises.

"We fully expect that we'll be developing other changes in our business just as revolutionary," said Wayne Roach, president and chief operating officer of the Fred Jones Automotive Group.

For example, he said the firm is considering focus group suggestions for changes within its parts and service departments.

Other divisions are also pondering changes to improve customer satisfaction _ all symbolized, and to some degree initiated, by the "True Blue" campaign.

"It comes down to this," said Roach. "On everything this company does, we are going to ask, `Is it true blue?' If it is, it is probably the right decision for this company."

The Oklahoma City-based giant, whose nearly 2,000 employees help rack up annual sales of $450 million, is comprised of four sections seeking independent areas of growth: Fred Jones Manufacturing, under the direction of Ernie Morris, is the largest Ford Authorized Remanufacturer in the nation, serving more than 800 dealerships in an area stretching from Florida to Arizona. It also sells rebuilt engines and transmissions to thousands of Ford and GM dealerships nationwide.

It has extended its transportation lanes to Mexico and Canada, and is primed to take advantage of opportunities made available through the North American Free Trade Agreement. The division also is expanding into European markets through a German office opened in September 1992. Century Insurance Group, headed by Al Dearmon, offers services and training to dealerships and banks throughout Oklahoma. It is now working towards expansion in Southern states. Fred Jones Enterprises, led by Bob Terrell, purchased Zener Electronics in January 1992. Zener is the nation's largest remanufacturer of car electronics systems, with facilities in Texas and Louisiana. Combined with Fred Jones' Audiotronics automotive chain in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Fred Jones Enterprises is mapping out areas of expansion in the automotive aftermarket for electronic components.

But the firm's highest profile division remains the Fred Jones Automotive Group, operator of Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar, Porsche and Saab franchises in five metropolitan Oklahoma City and six Tulsa locations.

Building upon its strong franchise base and parts service consistently ranked among the highest grossing among all Ford franchises, the automotive group foresees a 7 to 10 percent increase in sales for the new year, to 15,000 units split evenly between new and used car and trucks. Revenues are expected to hit $325 million, up from a projected $300 million in 1993.

To reach that goal, the automotive group has adopted several fundamental changes to better serve its customers. …

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