Growing with FD

Wayne Crimmins marks 15 years at helm of Mark’s Auto Mart

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Mark's Auto Mart Manager Jeremy Crimmins, at left, along with owner Wayne Crimmins, pose with one of the vehicles they have available at the dealership located at 2100 Fifth Ave. S. in Fort Dodge.

Fifteen years ago this month, Wayne Crimmins became the owner of Mark’s Auto Mart, 2100 Fifth Ave. S. As the local economy has boomed, so too has this popular vendor of pre-owned vehicles.

“The last five or six years our business has gone steadily uphill,” Crimmins said.

He said an excellent location on the city’s high-traffic Corridor of Commerce and the upswing in the Webster County economy have helped create an outstanding environment for this business to thrive.

Crimmins said his enterprise focuses on a particular segment of the used-vehicle market.

“We specialize in trucks and SUVs,” Crimmins said. “Cars are a very small market for us. Our price ranges are $5,000 to $50,000. We try to keep our inventory within five years of new.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Mark's Auto Mart owner Wayne Crimmins, right, holds up a set of car keys along with manager Jeremy Crimmins. They are located at 2100 Fifth Ave. S.

If something someone seeks isn’t already on hand, the team at Mark’s Auto Mart is ready to find it for a potential customer.

“We do a lot of locating,” Crimmins said. “Twenty percent of our business a month is vehicle location. We go online or I call my dealer friends.”

Only quality vehicles

Crimmins said he has personally selects the 35 to 40 vehicles on the lot at any given time.

“There are some online sources we use,” he said, explaining how the vehicles Mark’s Auto Mart sells are acquired. “I buy a lot – 90 percent of our inventory – from a new car stores, from their new-car trade-ins.”

The establishment also makes purchases directly from car owners and obtains vehicles through customer trade-ins. Those acquisitions result in a small number of cars on the lot in addition to the trucks and SUVs that are featured.

“Usually if we have a car, it is something that was traded in to us,” Crimmins said.

He said making sure that the products he has for sale are top quality is a priority for him.

“We try hard to find the best products,” Crimmins said. “We don’t buy cars just to have them on the lot. We buy the ones that we like. When I buy vehicles, I look for the best ones, not the cheapest ones. I enjoy buying top-of-the-line type vehicles. What I mean by that is vehicles that they have nice-looking wheels and leather interiors and moon roofs. I try to set us apart from other companies that way.”

Customer recognition that the inventory at Mark’s Auto Mart has been selected with great care may explain why trucks, SUVs and cars don’t stay on its lot for very long.

“We turn 75 percent of our inventory every month,” Crimmins said.

Lifetime in the business

Crimmins was part of the team at Mark’s Auto Mart long before he became the proprietor. He began as a teenager when the late Mark Andersen, who he said was a mentor and friend, was at the helm. Andersen built the structure that houses the business and launched it at its present location in the late 1980s.

“I’ve been with Mark’s Auto Mart since 1987,” Crimmins said. “I started as a car washer when I was 16 years old. Then I started changing oil, doing mechanical and progressed from there.”

Eventually he had the opportunity to succeed Andersen.

Crimmins told The Messenger in 2003, that the commitment to quality service for which the firm was known during Andersen’s tenure led him to retain the name even though the ownership had changed.

A dedication to serving customers properly has remained at the heart of Crimmins’ business philosophy.

“All our vehicles are checked over completely before we set them on the lot,” he said. “We treat people like friends and family when they are here. I don’t put anything on the lot that I wouldn’t buy myself.”

Additionally, each vehicle’s full history is available to the customer, because Mark’s Auto Mart is part of the Carfax Advantage Program.

“We are capable of giving you all the information on the vehicle,” Crimmins said. “Everything that has been tracked in the life of that vehicle we can get you on paper to show you where this vehicle has been, its maintenance history, any accidents. You can track anything that we have on the lot.”

Personalized service

The buying experience at Mark’s Auto Mart is very personal. The sales team consists of owner Wayne Crimmins and his cousin, Jeremy Crimmins.

“When you are here you don’t have to talk to five people,” Wayne Crimmins said.

His cousin underlined that point.

“With just Wayne and myself here, we can get a customer in and out as fast as they want,” Jeremy Crimmins said. “We can do it in 30 minutes if they want. We make it as quick and efficient as possible.”

Handling financing arrangements can take place right at the dealership.

“We have relationships with specific banks and credit unions,” Jeremy Crimmins said. “We can do everything right here. They sign the bank paperwork right here.”

Changing world

Wayne Crimmins has been a part of the automobile sales world for more than three decades. He said it is much changed from when he began.

The Internet has altered the way contemporary customers approach buying a car.

“Everybody’s already shopped the Internet when they come in,” Wayne Crimmins said.

His cousin amplified that observation.

“They know what we’ve got,” Jeremy Crimmins said. “They know what it is worth. They know everything about it. When they come in, they know everything about the car.”

It has also made it possible for Mark’s Auto Mart to serve a huge marketplace because anyone with an Internet connection can check out the company’s website.

“It has allowed us to sell the cars all over the country,” Jeremy Crimmins said. “It allows a small dealership like us to compete with the big dealerships. We can offer all the same products at a discounted price. We can do it right in our small location. Most of our sales are within 90 miles of us, but we sell all over.”

It’s not that unusual to sell a vehicle to someone who not only isn’t in Webster County but lives far from the Hawkeye State.

“We’ve sold in probably 20 different states,” Wayne Crimmins said.

He said even though he’s been in this business for more than three decades and he still enjoy the work.

“It’s fun meeting new people from every walk of life,” Crimmins said.