EuroCar gets new showroom

COSTA MESA — It was a 55,000 square-foot run-down warehouse until a German master mechanic converted it to an indoor state-of-the-art dealership.

"My belief from a few years ago is that the car world has changed to more of an online buyer," said Tilo Steurer, owner of EuroCar. "They'll go online and choose the one that's best-suited for them first."

And when they are ready to buy, they will be knocking on EuroCar's door, he said.

"We're trying to do the best we can," Steurer said. "We have phenomenal staff with phenomenal attitudes. When people e-mail us, we call them back."

EuroCar's dealership, which moved from 17th Street to a new location at 2920 Red Hill Ave. a week ago, is designed to also contain a photo studio where a professional photographer takes up to 80 pictures of each of the cars that become posted online.

"That's the future of the car business," Steurer said, "because people are sick and tired of getting bothered by salespeople while shopping."

The indoor dealership stretches for blocks dressed with some of the most expensive used cars built by Lamborghini, Porsche, Maserati and Bentley. Eurocar's new showroom has energy-efficient lighting and cooling. Even the products used to detail the cars and get them ready are recyclable.

"The car world is not eco-friendly," Steurer said. "And the cars I'm dealing with are not eco-friendly, so the best thing I can do is have an eco-friendly environment."

And although many dealerships closed during the economic downturn, EuroCar has expanded during the past three years.

Steurer acknowledges that part of what helped his business is when the economy tumbled, those who are well-off went out looking for the deals. But that's not the only reason why EuroCar's business grew.

"Most dealerships have those old ways of doing business and probably didn't see the future of the Internet," he said. "The other thing is truly customer service."

Steurer said 73% to 74% of his business is built on returning clients and referrals.

Steurer, who moved to the United States from Germany in 1985, said giving back to the community is simply part of his business. EuroCar is holding a gala on Aug. 20 to celebrate the opening of the new showroom. During the gala, a luxury car will be auctioned off to benefit the Mercy House, a homeless assistance center in Santa Ana.

Kathleen Janson, board member of the Mercy House, said Steurer and his wife, Paula, came across the center earlier this year. Steurer became attracted to what Mercy House does for others: helping the homeless get off the streets, find homes, work and become independent.

"We're extremely flattered and appreciative," Janson said. "And we're very happy that they and other people are starting to understand the scope of homelessness and are starting to help others."

EuroCar's new showroom is the largest on the West Coast, Steurer said. The dealership brings in $60 million in sales each year, with at least $500,000 in sales taxes benefiting the city.

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