10 years ago, Sauter Toyota in Santa Fe, New Mexico became Beaver Toyota. Why Beaver? Was Linda a spokesperson for other dealerships? Why a Toyota dealership? Why did they buy a place in Santa Fe? Hang on, all your questions will be answered.
Abby Turney, Beaver’s customer relations manager remembers watching Linda along with others that moved here from Lufkin as Linda recorded her first television commercial for Beaver Toyota. She was perfect except when it got to the end. She was supposed to say ‘See you tomorrow at Beaver Toyota in Santa Fe’. Instead she said “See you tomorrow at Beaver Chevrolet in Lufkin”, the tagline for the previous dealership. Of course, all those watching laughed.
Take two. Linda did it again…… and again ended it with the wrong name and more laughter from the audience. Frustrated with herself, Linda begged those watching to be silent so she could focus. They stood there, just smiling. AND one more time.. “see you tomorrow at Beaver… Chevrolet. Oh No!!!” We all know how it ends. She got it right. And people in Santa Fe greeted that pretty blonde with big hair and a Texas Accent.
By the way, Linda isn’t from Texas. She’s from Oklahoma. But that’s another story.
Linda Beaver 2006
Linda Beaver 2012
JD Powers released their recent Dependability study and Toyota again was one of the top vehicles. Chevrolet, doesn’t rank nearly as high. It wasn’t so different 10 years ago. Beavers appreciate the best. Then, and now, that means Toyota for the automotive industry.
Most of the Toyota Models today were available then. Avalon, Camry, Corolla, 4Runner, Highlander, Landcruiser, Prius, Rav4, Sequoia, Sienna, Tacoma and Tundra.
That was before FJ Cruiser, Matrix, Venza, Yaris Sedan and Hatchback.
Back then we were still selling MR2 Spyder, Camry Solara, Celica and Echo. Those were also the days before Scion.
Why Santa Fe?
Anyone that has visited Santa Fe knows of its beauty. Matt Calavan, Beaver’s General Manager, says the real reason for the location was Mike Beaver. Matt said “Mike was a bit of a troublemaker in school”. At the time St Michaels was a boarding school. In desperation, his parents sent him off to boarding school in the land of ‘Cowboys and Indians’ in the hopes that they could tame him in a way his parents could not.
Did they tame him? Who knows? Mike is still just as fun loving today. But these days when he makes the paper, it’s usually for awards. And Mike Beaver loved living in Santa Fe. He loved it so much that the first chance he got, he bought a dealership here.
What a change Santa Fe was from heavily forested Lufkin, Texas. Abby called her husband from Lufkin who moved to Santa Fe first to ask his impressions. He said, ‘honey, there’s 17 shades of brown. Pick a color you’d like.’
Like Mike, Abby and the rest of the management team fell in love with Santa Fe immediately. But they brought along their own strategy for success.
Ten years ago, the dealerships in the area served primarily Santa Fe and Los Alamos. Beaver knew that to grow, they had to attract customers from all over New Mexico, west Texas and southern Colorado. And why not? People come from all over the world to see Santa Fe. Why can’t they also come to buy a car? Mike, Linda and the management crew they brought with them knew that you needed to think big to become big. And the biggest thing 10 years ago was television. But the big stations were all in Albuquerque. Beaver’s presence on television was frequently as much or more than the biggest dealerships in the state. And Beaver took it a step further. They did it every month.
John Livingstone, one of Beaver’s Sales Managers says that a consistent strong message is one of the secrets to our success. The other guys based their advertising on how much they sold the month before. Beaver based their advertising on how much they wanted to sell this month.
The other thing they did was embrace the local staff of Sauter Toyota. John says “We still have people from when it was Sauter. Salespeople, Service Advisors and Technicians, Parts advisors. And it’s a good thing too. Because one of our keys to success is repeat business. And you can’t get repeat business with all new people. So we kept the best.”
General Manager Matt Calavan agrees and says “the dealership is so successful because of the people who work here. We do everything we can to take care of our people. If you take care of your people, they’ll take care of the customers.” Beaver currently employs 130 hard working New Mexicans!
Many of the people that were here 10 years ago are still here. Salespeople Lee Durham, Bill Hernandez, Melda Klinger, Aspen Leaf. Service Advisors Frank Guerra, Carl Martinez, Ray Anchondo. Parts Advisors Willie Gonzales, Alfred Hernandez.
Most of our current managers were here in other positions from the start. Buddy Espinosa was the service and parts director and now is the General Sales Manager. Rodney Gonzales was the parts manager and is now head of Parts and Service. Paul Sandoval was a service advisor and is now head of service.
Abby Turney, now Beaver’s customer relations manager was hired shortly after Beaver opened to help in the office. Abby remembers her first task at Beaver. ‘Mike came to me with a box of keys and said.. “these are building keys. I need you to figure out where they go. “It took me several days. But I did it! And came back to him feeling pretty good about what I had accomplished. He turned around and showed me 9 more boxes to do. That took me several weeks. There had to be at least 2000 keys to this one building. I was able to locate all but just a handful. AND those – I told Mike he could make a necklace out of. Because I never wanted to have to do that again.”
Where were you 10 years ago? Tell us your story. Send us photos. Please send us photos of Santa Fe.