By: Derek Bosse

“You can have everything in life you want, if you will help enough other people get what they want”. This is a quote by the famous Zig Ziglar that Randy Norsworthy tries to live by every day in his business. In fact, this quote is written on the wall of his office and has definitely assisted Randy in building numerous contacts and developing personal relationships with his business partners and customers.

Randy’s initial indoctrination in the car business began in 1977, when he and his father opened a used car dealership, Norsworthy’s Sales and Service, on Rice Street in Presque Isle. He continued to learn and gain experience when together, Randy and his father purchased a Chrysler dealership in 1986. They ran the dealership for 6 years, while opening a second Chrysler store in Caribou, but the closing of Loring Air Force Base in 1993 ended the venture. After having worked for his father-in-law for a short time he was provided with an offer that he “couldn’t possibly refuse” by John Linnehan of Linnehan’s Credit Now used car business.  Randy managed the very successful Presque Isle dealership for 6 years.  He continues to credit John Linnehan with giving him a great education in running a dealership. The experience he gained lead to his new venture, North Country Auto (NCA), which began in Presque Isle in 1999. Today, 17 years later, North Country Auto has expanded to four different locations throughout the state of Maine: Presque Isle, Houlton, Lincoln and most recently, Biddeford.

Purchasing vehicle inventory has changed dramatically in recent years.  The vast majority of dealers now buy their inventory online with the advent of the Internet. North Country’s general manager does occasionally buy online, but online purchases make up less than 5% of their total inventory which averages 280 vehicles. Unlike most dealers, the bulk of North Country Auto’s inventory is purchased on site, with Randy traveling to auctions twice a month or by his experienced buyer to the south. Being located in Aroostook County calls for a careful analysis of consumer demand in the area. Randy, with his staff has determined that their biggest retail market is for trucks and SUVs, making up 70% of total sales.

He takes tremendous pride in North Country’s slogan, “You’ve got a friend in the car business”, because that’s exactly how he wishes his customers to perceive himself and his staff.  He wants to develop a close, personal relationship with every customer, allowing them to feel more comfortable buying a car from him than his competitors. He backs up his slogan with his now 3 year old LifePledge Program. The LifePledge Program guarantees a lifetime power train warranty for the original purchaser as long as they own their vehicle. For the vehicle to qualify, it must be within 5 model years of the current year, have less than 75,000 miles and meet AutoCheck records. The LifePledge Program has given greater comfort to buyers, as well as having increased sales as a result.

In terms of changes in the automobile industry, Randy repeatedly refers to the term “informational highway” to describe the vast improvements in technology that have shifted the industry immensely.  At the auctions Randy regularly attends, it has become increasingly difficult to win bids because you are competing against all of the buyers present, as well as on line bidders.  Also, Auto Check offers instantaneous information on vehicles that was unavailable just a few years ago. Likewise, their marketing strategy has shifted as people’s viewing habits have shifted as of late. Social media is on the rise and North Country Auto is placing greater priority on the digital marketing venue.

Randy credits North Country Auto’s success to a hard-working, knowledgeable staff and he truly believes that it is “the great people working for him that make his job that much easier and brings continued success to the business”. Looking for a vehicle? Then look to a friend in the car business, North Country Auto.

Derek Bosse is an agent specializing in commercial and personal insurance.