- Associated Press - Monday, November 24, 2014

GENOA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The Howell area is ground zero for a concept that Joe Hood simply calls “cars for kids.”

Hood and his longtime partner, Cheryl Luttman, recently opened Joseph Auto Sales at 2860 E. Grand River Ave. in Genoa Township with an eye toward selling quality, affordable vehicles to families with teenagers or college students.

They have trademarked “cars4kids” and have a website, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus (https://bit.ly/1qDvGWV ) reported.

“A kid turns 16, 17 years old and needs his first car. Mom and dad don’t want him driving a $45,000 sedan or truck, so they are going to go out and find a car for $2,000 or $5,000,” Hood said.

“We are trying not to go over $10,000” for any vehicle on the lot, Luttman added.

Joseph Auto Sales will sell vehicles to drivers of all ages, but Hood and Luttman were looking for something that would set the dealership apart.

“We started playing with ideas for niches - sports cars, trucks only, this, that. We finally hit it: cars for kids,” Hood said.

He said the concept is the result of several years of research and talking to many parents and teens.

“We did our homework,” Hood said. “Moms and dads wanted three things: a car that was safe, dependable and affordable. The kids wanted cool-looking cars - they don’t want to pull up at a friend’s house and have someone poke fun at them - and they wanted a good stereo.

“The $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 and $5,000 cars are the numbers that always came out of the mouths of the parents,” he added. “They have a budget, and they are trying to get the biggest bang for their buck.”

The Genoa Township location is the first of what Hood and Luttman hope will develop into a group of dealerships that will become known as Uncle Joe’s Used Cars.

“This is the beginning of something that’s probably going to be pretty huge,” Hood said.

The couple and their financial backers hope to soon have a second location in Fenton, and they are interested in expanding into the college towns of Ann Arbor and East Lansing.

The idea, Hood said, is to someday have as many as 25 Uncle Joe’s locations in Michigan and even more across the country.

Those are big plans, but Hood and Luttman have done big things in the industry before.

The couple has more than three decades of experience in automobile sales. Their former Joseph Auto Group once included Joseph Pontiac in Fenton and other dealerships in Grand Blanc, Owosso and Millington before the General Motors Co. bankruptcy filing in 2009 led to the dissolving of the Pontiac division and the closures of their dealerships.

“Life was wonderful, then we lost everything,” Hood said.

Not wanting to deal with what Hood called the “politics” of new-car dealerships, the couple decided get back in the automobile sales game by concentrating on selling only used cars.

After numerous visits to the Howell area, they decided it was the ideal spot to launch their new venture.

“It has access to freeways, access to colleges, it’s close to metro Detroit,” Hood said.

Hood said he buys most of the vehicles on his lot from private owners, placing value on the car’s engine condition, appearance, color and popularity. Fords, Chevys and other domestic models can be found alongside imports such as Hondas, Hyundais and Kias.

Each car is certified by a master mechanic and comes with a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty.

“To do that, you have to have a high-quality car. You have to know how to safety inspect. You have to look for all the hidden stuff inside that engine,” Hood said. “We know what’s out there. We know that there are issues with certain cars.”

A used car’s mileage has little to do with its quality, he said.

“Mileage doesn’t mean the car is going to be dependable. I can destroy a car in 30,000 miles by not taking care of it. And I can get you a car with 165,000 miles on it that has been garage-kept and it’s just in wonderful shape because it’s been well-maintained,” he said.

Helping to put young drivers behind the wheel of their first vehicle and watching as teens learn about the car-buying process is very rewarding, Luttman said.

“The parents are there signing the paperwork, and the kids are all saying, ‘Give me the keys,’” she said. “They see that they have to go through a process. It kind of enlightens them a little bit.”

Hood said the research that went into the “cars4kids” concept shows that his customer base will remain strong.

“I found out there were 3.5 million kids in this country who were going to turn 16 in 2014 . and 3.8 million started kindergarten this year,” he said. “Think about that; I get a new crop of people, customers, every year.”

___

Information from: Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, https://www.livingstondaily.com


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide