Cars are their specialty
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 at 3:39 p.m.
Mike Harris was born and raised in the Duval neighborhood in northeast Gainesville and Andrew Maddox grew up in northeast Gainesville behind Gardenia Gardens Apartments.
They are now the owners of a car dealership in east Gainesville. Called MDH Auto Group, it is located at 1619 SE Hawthorne Road.
The acronym MDH stands for something, but Maddox said it won’t be revealed until the business has a contest for people to figure it out. At that time, the person who guesses the correct answer will receive a prize.
Maddox has been in the car business for more than 15 years, and he said he was motivated to start selling cars after working at other dealerships.
“I used to detail cars for dealerships, and I would see how they took advantage of people, and I wanted to give people an alternative,” said Maddox.
“People can come here, and we can get them the same car as any dealer in town if we don’t already have it in stock, and we won’t give you an unfair deal. I used to see how dealers tricked people out of their cars. I figured I could help people better by going out and buying cars and selling them for a small mark-up.”
“There is no middle man here, and we don’t have a lot of overhead expenses that we have to pass on to the customer.”
Harris is a former University of Florida football player, and he said though MDH specializes in used cars, they can get a customer whatever kind of car they want. He said they recently sold a 2006 CLS 500 Mercedes to a customer.
Harris said he knew MDH was going to be a success.
“I knew it from day one,” he said. “You don’t go into any kind of business if you are not confident you are going to be successful. We service clients all over the state of Florida. We are on e-bay, Cars.com and Craiglist.com.”
Harris said MDH has no limit on where to purchase cars. Unlike other used car dealers in the area, who are restricted from going to certain places to buy cars, Harris said MDH is welcome everywhere. He said MDH uses several local and national lenders to finance cars for customers.
“My experience has been great dealing with them,” said Vikki Ellis, a surgery coordinator at UF Orthopedics and a southeast Gainesville resident.
“Normally, when you go to buy a car, a salesman will run at you and lead you to a certain car,” Ellis said. “They don’t do that. Their main concern was with what I was looking for and how much I wanted to spend. It was no pressure.”
Ellis said she was told that if what she was looking for was not on the lot, that they could go get it. She has purchased two cars from MDH, a 2000 Mercedes C230 and a 2003 Ford Expedition. She said she bought the cars for extremely lower prices than she would have had to pay anywhere else.
Her mother and sister have bought a total of three cars from MDH.
A.D. Means of northeast Gainesville also praised MDH for providing quality service.
“The service is great there,” Means said. “They are dependable and they stick to their word. They provided me with the vehicle I was looking for in a timely fashion, and the vehicle is very reliable. It is a professional atmosphere there.”
Harris and Maddox both said they wish they could get more business from the community. They said they understand that people have the right to choose where they purchase cars from, but they said if the people just gave them a chance, they would find out that they are credible and reputable businessmen.
“We are from this community and our business is located in the community we love dearly,” Maddox said. “People want more businesses on this side of town, and here we are. Right here! We own the land we are on. This is ours.”
Maddox said most of his customers are people who don’t live in the community, but who stop by and inquire about deals.
“We have the best prices in town,” Maddox said. “I guarantee it.”
Maddox said their prices are so low that sometimes a lender will scrutinize a deal because they don’t believe MDH can sell cars for those prices.
“They actually wanted to see the cars,” Maddox said. “After seeing we were legitimate, some lenders now go as far as to send us customers.”
“This is a billion-dollar industry and we don’t have a margin for error,” Harris said. “Every little nickel counts. Business has been stagnant, but the economy has been stagnant. The best thing about it is that cars are tangible goods that everybody need.”
For more information, call Maddox at (352) 258-6506 or Harris at (352) 316-5177.
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