Kia boss praises dealer in special visit to town

By David Chapman

IT’S not every day the president/CEO of Kia Motors Australia makes a special trip to a regional Victorian dealership but that’s exactly what happened last week in Echuca-Moama.

James (Joonsu) Cho has only been in the country six months since being appointed head of the South Korean car giant’s Australian operations.

Mr Cho’s visit to the Echuca-Moama Kia dealership was to personally congratulate the team on winning the Dealer of the Year award for regional Victoria.

It is a major achievement, considering the dealership won the award in only its first year of operation.

Dealer principal Duane Johns started Echuca Auto Group about five years ago selling used cars but the gradual growth of the business saw him take on the Kia franchise.

Kia Motors Australia head of after sales Phil Murray and regional general manager Ian Juster accompanied Mr Cho on his visit last week to the Echuca-Moama dealership.

‘‘Kia is proud of what Duane and his team has achieved with sales and after sales in Echuca,’’ Mr Juster said.

‘‘The CEO would usually visit dealers in the metropolitan areas but James felt it was important to show support for the regional dealers.

‘‘It also gave him a chance to see kangaroos which while they may be a pest for country people it will give James memories which will last a long time.’’

Mr Juster revealed Kia had received applications from other interested parties for the Echuca-Moama dealership before Mr Johns was selected as the right man for the job.

‘‘We’re proud of what Duane has done on his own and done very quickly and has provided a benchmark for other dealers in Australia,’’ Mr Juster said.

‘‘Most dealers are multi-franchise but Duane’s is a single franchise and he has made a real success of it.

‘‘The investment, dedication and passion Duane shows has shown in customer satisfaction.’’

To be awarded the Dealer of the Year accolade, Mr Juster said there was a range of scoring criteria.

The award is not just based purely on sales, but other factors including service, spare parts, CSI (customer satisfaction index) and quality control.

‘‘What it means is Duane is doing a lot of things to a high level,’’ Mr Juster said.

Mr Johns said he was honoured to receive the award.

‘‘It’s great to get recognition from Kia,’’ he said.

‘‘For all the dedication and hard work that we’ve put in over the last 12 months, firstly being appointed the Kia dealer and to show faith back in Kia that they made the right choice in appointing me as the dealer so, yes, it’s great recognition.’’

Mr Cho praised Mr Johns’ performance in the short time he has had the Kia franchise.

‘‘Duane has achieved his targets, probably more than doubled his targets and he achieved a high score in customer satisfaction,’’ Mr Cho said.

‘‘He has done all the right things in this region and that’s why he was awarded the Dealer of the Year.’’