Maxi effort by Bill Pearce landed the MINI dealership

Not long after the automaker BMW Group introduced the MINI brand to American markets in 2002, executives of Bill Pearce Motors launched a campaign to win a MINI dealership in Reno.

The company's patient efforts were rewarded as Bill Pearce expects to open a MINI dealership by the autumn of 2010.

But it didn't come easily, says Matthew Meyer, the Bill Pearce Motors sales manager who will become general manager of the MINI dealership.

The Reno dealership used its connections in BMW Group Bill Pearce also is a BMW dealer to begin opening doors. BMW Group initially focused on MINI dealerships in major U.S. markets, followed by secondary markets such as Sacramento and Salt Lake City and only then began paying close attention to proposals from Reno and similar-sized cities.

Their pitch?

Even though Reno is more than 130 miles from the nearest MINI dealership in Sacramento, several hundred of the tiny cars were sold to northern Nevada buyers after the brand's reintroduction. Several of them joined the letter-writing campaign to land a dealership in Reno.

And with both a university and an active outdoor lifestyle, the Reno-Sparks market scores well on tools that measure potential MINI sales, Meyer says.

The letter-writing campaign led to a request by BMW Group for a formal proposal. Bill Pearce Motors responded with a Web site developed by Hansen Creative Inc. of Reno, whose president, Joe Hansen, has years of experience in marketing for automakers.

The polished proposal, MINI executives said later, had the look of something they'd expect from a much larger market.

With acceptance of the proposal, the work is just beginning for Bill Pearce Motors.

Construction of a freestanding dealership building, probably about 6,000 square feet, is expected late this year. The building will be part of the company's recently opened dealership complex at 11555 S. Virginia St. that also includes BMW, Porsche and Volvo stores.

The challenge of the building, Meyer says, will come in blending the tight control that MINI places on the architecture of its stores with the requirements of Reno planning officials.

"They are very concerned about their image," Meyer says of MINI executives. "This is going to be a distinctive building. It's a very quirky brand."

Tectonics Design Group of Reno produced the conceptual design that accompanied the dealership proposal.

The dealership is projected to employ twelve to fifteen people in its sales, parts and service operations.

Although the dealership won't be open until the late summer 2010 at the earliest, Bill Pearce Motors already is beginning its marketing efforts.

It's asked BMW Group for permission to begin servicing MINI vehicles in its existing service department, and it's launched a Web site,, to provide updates about development of the dealership.


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