Texas-based Sewell Automotive Moves into Sugar Land and West Houston
New Audi And Mercedes-Benz Dealerships Are Part Of Its Largest-Ever Planned Expansion
With the grand opening event on Nov. 28 of Audi Sugar Land and the opening of Mercedes-Benz of West Houston on Dec. 6, Sewell Automotive Companies is continuing its 105 years of growth in Texas. Audi Sugar Land officially opened Nov. 1 at 10330 Highway 90A in Sugar Land at the intersection of Highway 59/Interstate 69. Mercedes-Benz of West Houston is located at 1025 Highway 6 North, at the northwest corner of I-10 and State Highway 6.
Audi Sugar Land will create more than 100 jobs in the Sugar Land area. It will offer more than 375 new and pre-owned Audi vehicles, including the new, technologically advanced 2017 Audi Q7.
“We are proud to open a dealership that will deliver the high standards of excellence that Texans expect from Sewell and Audi,” said Carl Sewell, chairman at Sewell. “Audi Sugar Land will be a place that customers are always treated with the utmost respect and will be an important member of the Sugar Land and Fort Bend County communities.”
Designed by architecture firm Gensler, the four-story, 259,000-square-foot Audi Sugar Land features an eight-vehicle showroom and a 250-vehicle indoor display area. “The design at Audi Sugar Land is not only as an amazing showcase for the quality vehicles that Audi makes, but also as a place that is welcoming and comfortable for our customers and our Sewell associates alike,” said Sewell. “Sewell associates are carefully selected and developed to provide an extraordinary experience that helps us create customers for life.” The company provides a continuing education program, with a requirement of 40 hours a year from some of the country’s top business schools.
Mercedes-Benz of West Houston has an 18-vehicle showroom, indoor display area with room for 200 vehicles and an AMG performance center for even the most demanding car enthusiasts. It is also expected to create 100 jobs.
Sewell now has a total of 15 dealerships. It represents the Audi, Buick, Cadillac, GMC, Infiniti, Lexus, MINI and Subaru brands, with locations in Dallas, Fort Worth, Grapevine, Houston, Plano, San Antonio and Sugar Land. Annual vehicle sales total more than 37,000.
Representing different types of vehicle manufacturers “gives us a wonderful perspective of the various attributes of the automobiles and management styles of the companies. If you love the business, and fortunately we do, you get to see all aspects of it,” said Sewell, who is actually Carl Jr. He began his full-time career with the family firm in 1966 after graduating from college. It was run at the time by his father, Carl Sr., who himself was the second generation to run it.
Carl Sr. worked for his father in the family hardware store that opened in 1911 in Arlington. They took a gamble on the automobile and added a Ford dealership selling Model Ts. Employees would ride to the train station in wagons drawn by horses from the Sewell’s stables and bring back the boxes of the autos, which would then have to be assembled – the windshield and wheels put in position, and the oil, water and fuel added. No one really knew how to drive a car, so Carl Sr., who was 14 at the time, taught himself and then taught the farmers, who became the first customers to purchase the Model T.
Carl Sr. made it through the Depression years through his entrepreneurial savvy in Crane and Odessa, Texas where he owned Ford dealerships. That savvy also got him through World War II. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, automobile manufacturing plants began producing airplanes and tanks. He spent the war sellling 250 autos he bought in Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. He bought the Cadillac dealership in Dallas in 1957, which the company still has. Carl Sr. died in 1972 when Sewell was 28.
Sewell wrote about his experience transforming the Cadillac dealership into one of the most successful in the United States in his 1989 book, Customers for Life: How to Turn That One-Time Buyer Into a Lifetime Customer. The book was revised in 2002 and has sold more than 600,000 copies. Among other things, it talks about taking care of customers throughout the lifetime of the product they purchase with a high-quality service experience.
Now Sewell’s role is to acquire new franchises while his children, Carl III and Jacquelin, who are in their 30s, are chief operating officers. Sewell is proud that they both have master’s degrees in business from Southern Methodist University. This third generation of Sewells is also active in community service; each is on the board of a Dallas area school. “The company is 105 years old. Hopefully they can take it forward another 50 years and maybe their children another 50 after that,” Sewell said.
Honoring its century-long commitment to the communities it serves throughout Texas, Sewell also announced partnerships with Fort Bend Rainbow Room, Fort Bend ISD, Fort Bend Education Foundation, Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, Fort Bend Junior Service League and Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation. Sewell himself has been on the board of Southern Methodist University for 20 years, while his wife, Peggy, has been on the board of MD Anderson for 30 years. “Giving back to the communities where we operate makes our success possible. It’s a Texas tradition,” he said.
Sewell is excited about opening up in Sugar Land and West Houston and is focused on getting the dealerships performing at a high level. “After that, we want to continue to grow in Texas. We think it’s the best economy, and the culture of the people in Texas is very supportive of quality business,” he said.
Visit sewell.com for more information on the company and on Audi Sugar Land and Mercedes-Benz of West Houston.