Ashley Napier, Special to the Daily Press
It’s lucky number thirteen for The LAcarGuy or Santa Monica resident Mike Sullivan as he is known to his friends.
Sullivan recently opened a Genesis Santa Monica, his sixth in the city which gives him a baker’s dozen in his overall portfolio and builds on a business model that began in 1976 when he inherited a single Volkswagen dealership from his father.
With more than 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 with 300 in his local dealerships.
“I have second and third generations of employees, and I’m always very proud of that,” says Sullivan, who sees his entire operation as family. His three children even work in the corporate level of the LAcarGuy empire, with his son Sean Sullivan as President of LAcarGuy, his son Kelly Sullivan as a real estate developer and his daughter Meghan Simpson as Marketing Director for the company.
The all-new dealership is located on Santa Monica Boulevard and is the first stand-alone Genesis dealership in the LA area, outside of Cerritos.
Genesis is a premier division of vehicles under Hyundai, established for the purpose of providing a luxurious and sophisticated option for drivers while keeping safety as the primary focus. Sullivan says that opening the Genesis dealership “was just a natural decision for me” once he understood that “you know, we’re [Genesis Santa Monica] sort of different, and can kind of cater to that upscale buyer.”
In 2020, J.D. Power named Genesis the most dependable automotive brand in North America and continues to win awards for their safety performance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the entire Genesis fleet the Top Safety Pick+, the highest safety-distinction a vehicle could achieve in North America, including; the 2021 G70, the 2021 G80, the 2021 G90 and the 2021 GV80. The all new GV70 is not included in this list because the SUV just launched in June and has yet to be tested by IIHS.
Sullivan is not a stranger to the Hyundai family, opening his first Hyundai dealership in 1985, returning to the South Korean brand in 2021 because of the positive experience he had over 36-years ago.
It was a natural progression for Hyundai to create the Genesis line, Sullivan says, with other car brands releasing luxury fleets such as Toyota releasing Lexus and Honda releasing the Acura. He said the Hyundai model was to exceed the bar set by others.
“If they needed to go up two notches, they did that [and] went up three and a half,” he said.
What caught Sullivan’s attention most was the brand’s commitment to spearheading the Electric Vehicle movement, saying that Genesis has big plans to lead in that direction. Sullivan serves on the board for local nonprofit Heal the Bay and the Environmental Media Association and has appointed a “Green-Team” to promote environmentally friendly practices in the communities which he serves. “My world is very much in that green, environmental world,” Sullivan says, “so, for me, that was just a piece of cake.”
The auto industry is a staple for the local economy, generating 25 percent of the city’s sales tax revenue per quarter, according to the latest available data generated by the City of Santa Monica’s Finance Department.
Local businessman Barry Brewer of B. Brewer and Associates was the first to drive a Genesis off the lot. The owner of a brand new G80 3.5 T in Navy blue said that he felt it was the perfect time to get a new car once his current lease was up 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 went to the new location last Saturday, everyone at the dealership was “very accommodating,” helping him “find a way to structure a lease deal that was in my budget.”
Tedros Mengiste, Executive Director of Sales Operations for Genesis Motor America said Santa Monica is the perfect location to expand the young brand’s profile.
He said Sullivan is “just a great partner to have in the business and we’re really looking forward to growing our relationship with them and growing the business with him in Santa Monica.”