Ashley Napier, Special for the Daily Press
It’s the lucky number thirteen for The LA Car Guy, or Santa Monica resident Mike Sullivan, as his friends call him.
Sullivan recently opened a Genesis dealership in Santa Monica, his sixth in town, adding a dozen bakers to his overall portfolio and building on a business model that began in 1976 when he inherited a single Volkswagen dealership from his father.
With over 45 years of experience in the industry, Sullivan’s impact on the local economy has grown with each new dealership. He now employs more than 600 people, 300 of them in his local dealers.
“I have second- and third-generation employees and I’m always very proud of that,” says Sullivan, who sees his entire business as a family. His three children even work at the corporate level of the LA Car Guy empire, with son Sean Sullivan as president of LA Car Guy, son Kelly Sullivan as real estate developer, and daughter Meghan Simpson as marketing director for the company.
The brand new dealership is located on Santa Monica Boulevard and is the first standalone Genesis dealership in the LA area outside of Cerritos.
Genesis is a leading vehicle division of Hyundai that was founded with the aim of providing drivers with a luxurious and sophisticated option while keeping safety first. Sullivan says opening the Genesis dealer “was just a natural choice for me” after understanding that “you know we are” [Genesis Santa Monica] somehow different and can somehow serve this upscale buyer. “
In 2020, JD Power named Genesis the Most Reliable Automotive Brand in North America and continues to win awards for its safety performance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the entire Genesis fleet the Top Safety Pick +, the highest safety award a vehicle can achieve in North America. the 2021 G70, the 2021 G80, the 2021 G90 and the 2021 GV80. The brand new GV70 is not on this list as the SUV only launched in June and has yet to be tested by IIHS.
Sullivan is no stranger to the Hyundai family, opening his first Hyundai dealer in 1985 and returning to the South Korean brand in 2021 based on the positive experience he had over 36 years ago.
It was a natural progression for Hyundai to develop the Genesis line, Sullivan says, while other car brands are launching luxury fleets like Toyota, like Toyota with Lexus and Honda with the Acura. He said the Hyundai model should surpass the bar set by others.
“If you had to go two steps higher, you did that” [and] rose by three and a half, ”he said.
What caught Sullivan’s attention most was the brand’s commitment to spearheading the electric vehicle movement, and said Genesis had big plans to lead in that direction. Sullivan serves on the board of directors of the local nonprofit Heal the Bay and the Environmental Media Association, and has appointed a “green team” to promote environmentally friendly practices in the communities in which he serves. “My world is very much shaped by this green environment,” says Sullivan, “so it was just a breeze for me.”
The auto industry is a staple of the local economy, generating 25 percent of the city’s sales tax revenue each quarter, according to the latest available data from the Santa Monica City Department of the Treasury.
Local businessman Barry Brewer of B. Brewer and Associates was the first to drive a Genesis off the property. The owner of a brand new G80 3.5 T in navy blue said it was the perfect time to buy a new car once his current lease expired and he immediately knew he wanted a Genesis.
Brewer explains that he fell in love with the overall design and interior of the car, and when he moved to the new location last Saturday, everyone at the dealership was “very accommodating” in helping him “figure out a way to structure a lease who “was in my budget.”
Tedros Mengiste, Genesis Motor America’s executive director of sales operations, said Santa Monica is the perfect place to expand the young brand’s profile.
He said Sullivan was “just a great partner for the business and we really look forward to growing our relationship with you and growing the business with him in Santa Monica.”