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October 26, 2016

Leckner group has big plans for Marshall Ford store

Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Finance Manager Kelly Hall, a seven-year veteran of the dealership, with new Leckner Ford of Marshall General Manager Tony Trocchia.
I see lots of potential. That area stretches to Front Royal and Haymarket. It’s a great opportunity.
— Carl Leckner
Leckner Ford of Marshall
• Where: 8332 Main St.

• Owner: Carl Leckner of Oakton.

• Purchased: Friday, Oct. 21, for undisclosed amount from David Baird and Thomas O’Brien, who had owned dealership since 1989.

• Employees: Seven, increasing to 25.

• Goal: Sell 125 new and used vehicles a month.

• Future: Plans to build new dealership near Interstate 66 and maintain Main Street operation. Employment could reach 70.

• History: Marshall dealership opened Nov. 23, 1915.

• Phone: 1-877-863-6597

• Website: www.leckner.com

• Leckner Automotive: Founded in July 2015, company has five other dealerships in Ellicott City, Md., King George, Stafford and Woodstock. Plans to have 20 dealerships in three years.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Editor
An extreme makeover started Monday at Marshall’s previously sleepy, century-old Ford dealership.

Managers from fast-growing Leckner Automotive and local workmen have begun remaking the historic building and the business it houses at 8332 Main St.

“It’s gonna be a fast change,” dealership General Manager Tony Trocchia said late Tuesday afternoon.

When Carl Leckner shook hands with the former owner and took the keys Friday, the dealership had 29 new Ford cars and trucks on the lot.

That number quickly will grow to 125, with another 100 used vehicles also on hand, according to Mr. Trocchia.

In a good year, Marshall Ford sold 60 new vehicles. The new owner plans to match that number every month. With used cars and trucks, Leckner Ford of Marshall plans monthly sales of 125 vehicles.

How?

“Carl just knows how to sell,” said Mr. Trocchia, a 51-year-old Haymarket resident who has worked decades in the automotive business. “There are few GMs (general managers) I would follow. But, when Carl called, I jumped at the opportunity.”

After 15 years at Koons in Tysons, where he managed the parts business that did $1 million in monthly sales, Mr. Trocchia will manage a much smaller enterprise.

A 45-year-old Oakton resident, Mr. Leckner started his own company in June 2015, buying a Nissan dealership in Stafford.

“It’s everybody’s dream,” he said. “We want to provide employment opportunities, and we have a great group of people.”

After starting in the car business right out of high school, the Northern Virginia native climbed the ladder to work as a dealership general manager for Sheehy in Manassas and, more recently, Koons in Falls Church. In both cases, sales doubled under his management.

Leckner Automotive Services owns Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Jeep, Nissan and Ram Truck franchises.

“We want to have 20 stores in 36 months,” Mr. Leckner said in a phone interview Wednesday.

A chance meeting led to his most recent acquisition in Marshall, just a month after purchasing Muhlenburg Ford in Woodstock.

Early last spring, Mr. Leckner found himself sitting next to Marshall Ford co-owner David Baird as they flew to an auto dealers’ convention.

Striking up a conversation, Mr. Leckner mentioned that he and his wife often had driven past Marshall Ford on trips “to the mountains.”

He offered to help if Mr. Baird ever wanted to modernize the dealership.

A few months later, Mr. Baird called to say he and co-owner Thomas O’Brien had decided to sell the business. With Ford’s blessing, they closed the deal Oct. 21.

Mr. Leckner said a confidentiality agreement prevents disclosure of the terms, financing or even whether he has purchased the 1.77-acre dealership property.

Mr. Baird couldn’t be reached for comment.

For other acquisitions, Mr. Leckner has raised capital from investors, including $1.9 million for the Nissan dealership in Ellicott City and $3 million for the Ford dealership in Woodstock, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

The county assesses the Marshall dealership real estate at $1.2 million for tax purposes. Mr. Baird and Mr. O’Brien bought it for $833,800 in 1989.

The two-story, 4,800-square-foot office building and adjacent garage immediately will get major facelifts, “new paint, new carpet, new furniture, new equipment,” Mr. Trocchia said. “And, we’re hiring for everything — sales, technicians, lot porters.”

Marshall Ford’s employees, including Finance Manager Kelly Hall, will stay, he and Mr. Leckner stressed.

The new owner uses the “no-haggle” pricing model and promises deals that meet those of large competitors.

“I see lots of potential,” he said of Marshall. “That area stretches to Front Royal and Haymarket. It’s a great opportunity . . . . We do like stores in the country.”

Within three years, Mr. Leckner wants to build a new Marshall dealership on “eight to 12 acres,” preferably near Interstate 66.

The new owner acknowledged that aesthetics will be important in the Northern Fauquier village, where proposed, “form-based code” zoning would place more emphasis on traditional architecture.

Mr. Leckner said he would welcome suggestions for design.

The older dealership might become “a Mustang store,” specializing in the famous “pony car” Ford introduced a half-century ago, Mr. Leckner said. The Main Street shop also could continue as a service center for all brands of vehicles.

His plan to invest millions in Marshall continues the trend on Main Street, where new restaurants and food-related businesses have sprung up recently.

“I travel around to all the stores every week,” the new owner said. “You can put my cell number in the story: 703-296-4719. I’m always available to everybody.”
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