Park Plaza Dodge Chrysler became Hawk Chrysler Dodge Jeep this month as part of a plan to consolidate the growing Hawk brand.
Hawk Chrysler Dodge Jeep, 7911 Roosevelt Rd., is owned by brothers Joe and John Crane, and Gus Kreatsoulas. All three have stakes in three other car dealerships: Hawk Ford, Hawk Chevrolet in Bridgeview and Golf Mill Ford in Niles (Hawk Chevy also has minority shareholders). Joe Crane says the Hawk name has more selling power and that the partners want to move toward branding their operations under one name.
“It’s recognition with the least amount of change,” Joe said. In 2007, the investors purchased Hawk Ford from the Hawkinson family, which had owned and operated the dealership for nearly 40 years.
The name was purchased along with the business and has now been stamped on all but one of the dealerships.
Hawk Ford, Hawk Chevrolet, and now Hawk Chrysler Dodge Jeep are not affiliated with Hawk Kia or Hawkinson Nissan, which are still owned by the Hawkinson family.
The Forest Park dealership just recently acquired the Jeep franchise. What’s more, part of the consolidation effort will involve revamped websites for all of the locations, which will allow customers to browse a comprehensive selection of the inventories on any of the sites.
“We are going to create a brand in Hawk that will eventually carry all the inventory for all the stores in one site,” Joe said. “Instead of a few hundred cars, there will be a few thousand.
“That’s our goal.”
The Crane brothers first moved into the Forest Park location in 2003 and rented the space from car mogul Jerry Gleason before purchasing the land in 2005 for $2.6 million, according to records from the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.
During that time, the Crane brothers forged a business relationship with Kreatsoulas, and together they purchased Golf Mill Ford in 2005 and Hawk Ford in 2007. Park Plaza Dodge was originally located in Oak Park before the brothers renamed the Roosevelt Road store.
Joe pointed out that he and his brother John were reared in a car dealership: Their father, Thomas Crane, owned Midlothian Dodge from 1982 through 2000.
“He brought us up through the ranks, washing cars, and we worked our way up through sales and into management.” Joe said. “It’s in our blood.”
The three primary investors purchased the stores on the eve of the recession and the near-collapse of the domestic auto industry. When asked how they weathered the storm, Joe conceded that, oftentimes, the stores break even or don’t reap huge profits. But, he said, the three partners make it a point to be on-site regularly, which often produces results.
“If I’m here on a daily business, it seems like people work a little bit harder,” Joe said.
He runs things at the Forest Park store and his brother John splits time between Hawk Ford and Hawk Chevy, while Kreatsoulas is stationed at Golf Mill.
None of the locations, Joe pointed out, were forced to lay off any employees following the recession or Chrysler’s filing for bankruptcy in 2009.
Last week, Chrysler announced it plans to pay off what it owes the federal government, making good on the $12.5-billion bailout package it received in 2009.
“Chrysler has done an excellent job to refresh every piece of product that we have,” Joe said, noting that there are “greener pastures ahead.”