Strong Shoulders to Stand On

George Vescovo likes to say that he is standing on the shoulders of giants. And, despite his modesty, it is easy to see why he would feel that way. There are a number of ways that he has had a leg up – or one could say a “shoulder” up – along the way to operating the fastest growing Toyota dealership in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and Wyoming.

“Those are the only states I have data for,” he says. “But we have experienced 44% average growth year over year.” And just recently, Vescovo Toyota was honored as Business of the Year by the Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Not bad for someone who officially took over the dealership just two years ago. I say “officially” because Vescovo Toyota – formerly Las Cruces Toyota – is owned by the same family that has been around since 1982. 

“I just felt that I wanted to re-brand a little and make the name a bit less generic,” George said. “It’s nice, too, that people know there’s a local family connected to the business.”

A thirty-three-year legacy would likely count as an integral part of any support system. Let’s call that “Shoulder One.”

“Shoulder Two” could well be the product itself. Toyota is consistently highly rated in value, safety, customer loyalty and satisfaction by a number of consumer and insurance groups. At any rate, people like their Toyotas.

So a long history and a good product make two really strong shoulders to stand on. But what about “Shoulder Three?” Wait a minute. Three? Well, I guess a giant can have as many shoulders as it wants. Who’s going to argue?

George Vescovo will be the first to tell you that “Shoulder Three” is made up of people – his team.

“It’s a general philosophy of treating the customer how you want to be treated,” he emphasized. “An above-board way—and having very high ethics and standards, that’s the type of people I look for in my team. I want them to establish a personal connection with the customers. Transactions are instantaneous, but relationships are enduring – hopefully, they last a lifetime.”

“I don’t think of myself as the face of the dealership,” he continued. “I’m just the one standing up there pointing, saying ‘Go this way.’ But it’s really my team that is doing it.”

And it may be that this is the Master of Business Administration degree talking, but he sums up his business philosophy as “People, Processes, Promotion, and Product.” So if you’re keeping score, that’s Three “Shoulders” and Four P’s. 

George did indeed get an MBA from the University of New Mexico, but it was a rather circuitous route to that achievement. He was a self-described “science nerd” as a kid and wanted to be a microbiologist. After getting his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Arizona, he came back to Las Cruces and began to work at the dealership as a manager, and then general manager.

“I loved working at the dealership. I loved it!” Vescovo said. “I dedicated myself fully to the job and wanted to do the best I could possibly do.”

That dedication led to his attending the National Automotive Dealers Association Dealer Academy and driving up to UNM on the weekends and his days off to get that MBA.  After ten years, Vescovo went back to Tucson to go to law school. He not only passed the Arizona bar exam, but his science background enabled him to become a patent lawyer as well. Then two years ago, his family asked if he would be willing to take over the dealership. He didn’t hesitate.

Vescovo is passionate about his business and freely states that he enjoys it “much more than being a scientist or an attorney.”

Family is important to George. He and his wife, Amanda, have three children: James, 10, and seven-year-old twins, Amelia and Bradley. James was diagnosed with autism at age three, and the Vescovos have become ardent supporters of Hearts for Autism, a local non-profit organization that raises money to provide services and support for families in southern New Mexico who may have a member with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). “It fills a niche in the community,” Amanda Vescovo said. “The organization provides sorely needed information, especially for those with newly diagnosed children.”

“We had to do our own research and learn as we went. There wasn’t that much in the way of support at the time,” George continued. “We want other families to be able to take advantage of the information that we discovered and our experience.”

“James is doing really great,” Amanda said. “We’ve been really lucky.”

The other program that Vescovo Toyota supports is the “‘Count Me In’ Car Giveaway.” Working with several other local businesses and organizations, Vescovo Toyota gives a used car away to a high school student who has near perfect attendance. “It’s a way of helping to increase graduation rates, retention, and attendance,” George said. “We want to try to make it bigger and better every year.”

Perhaps the biggest development on the horizon for Vescovo Toyota is the impending groundbreaking for a new and much larger home for the dealership. The new facility will be across Valley Drive from the current one, and it will be more than double in size.

“We are bursting at the seams, there’s no denying that. It will have ample parking and be a state-of-the-art facility.”

So I guess that a big new facility could make “Four Shoulders” to stand on, if you’re still keeping track. Does that equal two giants?

Spring 2015
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