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Posted on: February 13, 2014 at 2:25 PM
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The Car that Led to a Merger

As President and CEO of MIDFLORIDA it’s a little awkward for me to walk into a competitor’s office and hang out. Read how I handled my visit.

Soon after I started with MIDFLORIDA, I noticed that a competing bank in town had repossessed an old Porsche 911. This is back in the day when Porsches were air cooled beasts that had no business in the hot Florida climate. But, as a car guy, I had to give acquiring this car a shot at what I hoped would be a bargain price.

I planned out my strategy and made an offer of $11,111.11. Initially I lost the bid. However, a few days later they called back to inform me that the top bid had fallen through, and if I still wanted the car it was mine. Well of course I bought it! And so began my fondness for the speed, handling and reliability of Porsches.

About five years ago I was thinking about purchasing another 911. I happened to notice a used Porsche in Tampa being sold by a young attorney. The car appeared to be in excellent original condition and priced well below market, so we went to look it. The rub on the car was obvious the minute he started the car. Parked in a single car garage, it sounded like a bomb went off when it started. He explained that the mufflers had been removed, and it was running straight pipes.

As we began the test drive the owner explained how he tried to use the car to commute to work, but it was too loud. He recommended putting the mufflers back on. After driving a short distance my wife and I stopped and walked around the car. She commented, “We definitely need to put the mufflers back on.” I nodded in agreement but the gearhead in me was thinking, no way, this thing sounds awesome!

We cut a deal and agreed to meet at his credit union a few days later to pay-off the loan and collect the title. Now it’s a little awkward for me to walk into a competitor’s office and hang out. It would be like the President of Pepsi wandering around Coke’s headquarters. People begin to wonder if you’re there to steal the secret formula. So I decided that I would arrive early, meet the President and say hi.

I got there a little early, went to the greeter, explained who I was and asked if the President was in. She said he was, and he came out to meet me. We spoke for a few minutes and agreed to have lunch someday. Shortly after I called him and we had a nice lunch. I asked him if he might consider merging. He said flat out, “No.”

A year later or so he called me back, and we cut a deal. Since then we have completed that merger and two others in the Tampa market. The merger might have happened either way, but you never know. Maybe that one happen-chance visit and act of respect made the difference.

P.S. Five years later and the mufflers are still in the attic! My wife says she can hear me coming home blocks before I get there. You can take the gearhead out of the garage…

DID YOU KNOW?

Dr. Ferdinand Porsche designed the Volkswagen for Hitler as the people car. His son designed the first Porsche, the famous 356. His grandson designed the 911. Another grandson is the Chairman of Audi, which controls Volkswagen and Porsche.

Jones Garage is monthly column by Kevin Jones, President of MIDFLORIDA and certified car guy to talk about his cars and automobilia and the cars of MIDFLORIDA’s members. In addition to his stories, we will feature a different member’s car and story. Please email your car story with a picture of your car to Julie Townsend at jtownsend@MIDFLORIDA.com

A special prize will be awarded if we use your car in an issue of Jones Garage.

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