Once there were a pair of Latvians, husband and wife, in the mid 1940s, who fled in the middle of the night from their country to safer territory. Who knew their fearful flight would eventually lead them to one of the most positive and exciting entrepreneurial stories of Ottawa? Of all things, too ... cars, one of the most important purchases one can make and a big part of consumers' sense of identity!
In fact, a car purchase is usually the second largest purchase after a home for most people. Jeffery Mierins, who we interview here, comes from a third generation of successful car dealership experts and owners. He owns Dow Honda automobile dealership and several others in the Ottawa area.
(Stream the car podcast, or download it.)
Keep in mind, the number one selling car for the past 14 years in Canada has been the Honda Civic. The 2004 model, which is exactly one of my cars, won the KBB Award # 1 Best Used Car under $8000, the Honda Fit (Jazz) is #7 among Coolest Cars under $18,000, and the Honda Crosstour is # 2 among top 10 Head Turners.
Mr. Mierins says, "If you asked me my favorite car ... I drive a Honda Pilot because I have four kids and a dog ... it's one of the only sports utility vehicles that fits eight people. But if you want to talk about a favorite car, how about the S2000? It is not produced right now, but it is a convertible and was available a few years back ... Honda was able to get the most horse power per liter of any regulated * aspirated car which means it didn't have any turbo chargers. This enabled high fuel efficiency and really high horse power ..."
We discuss the hottest car technologies in 2012 and forward such as navigation tools, ability to plug in one's iPod, back-up camera and back-up assist, heated/cooled option seats, awesome traction control systems, satellite radio, and dual audio and video entertainment such as audio in front seat and video in back seat at the same time. The back-up camera and back-up assist set-up, for example, is plugged into the navigation system. There are two choices, to see downward behind your car or straight across. It saves time and provides increased safety.
Jeff discusses the Honda Jazz (called Honda Fit in North America). The one that is currently available is not an electric car. He mentions Honda's hydrogen vehicles being tested in California, but with the cold weather of Canada, the car's tail pipe that would normally drain water, would instead be filled with a big popsicle stick. Plus the infrastructure for electric cars and hygrogen cars is not quite universally ready.
About a decade ago, Mr. Mierins visited the Honda development site in Tochigi, Japan. This is the the world’s first indoor, all-weather, omni-directional, vehicle-to-vehicle crash test center, built to increase research in safety technologies that will help vehicles withstand real-world traffic accidents. Jeff saw and was able to discuss first-hand the progress of the hybrids and other futuristic Hondas. The most important difficulty in the hybrid and electrical cars is finding charging stations to "refuel." The 120 volt electrical system in the typical North American home is not compatible. A vehicle would need to complete charging in an overnight period! A minimum of 600 voltage is necessary to charge in an hour or less.
An interesting bit of Canadian automobile trivia is that the Honda Civic was the first hybrid to be introduced in the nation of Canada.
Jeff compares the marketing and fashion strategy of Toyota Prius and Honda Civic hybrid introduction. (First person to comment correctly to this blog post as to the two tell-tale signs if a Honda Civic is hybrid or not ... will receive a complimentary @AstraQom ball cap. Jeff gives the answer in the audio podcast around the 12.08 mark.)
Want to know the basics of success in selling, buying or trading a car? The advice Mr. Mierins gives is no-nonsense, practical and so true: keep it clean, maintained and avoid smoking in it.
A side track we took in the conversation is concerning the issues of SMBs in the middle of peripheral road construction, the tax perspective, and the detrimental effect on sales and customer visits. We discussed a KPMG business report showing Halifax, Trois-Rivieres, and Charlotteltown as the top three cities in Canada, but obviously there are extra layers of bureaucracy in Ottawa which slows business momentum. Those layers are municipal, provincial and federal even, since Ottawa is the Capital of Canada.
As an aside ... I accidentally called Mr. Mierins' company ... Dow Jones when informing the AstraQom CEO of my plan to itonterview. Jonathan Sowah's jaw dropped when I said I was interviewing the owner. ;-) Dow Jones? The Dow Honda dealership is open for service at 6:30 AM and for sales at 9 AM. They have extended hours during pre, during, and post "snow days" for tire changes. Dow Honda's website is http://www.dowhonda.com, and its popular Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/DOWHonda.
Expect more interview collaborations with Jeff Mierins on his Mercedes Benz (love my C280 4matic) center and power vehicles dealership! We'll cover communications and IP technologies and applications in relation to cars also. Isn't the ITEXPO West 2012 car giveaway a hot blue convertible Mustang?