For over four decades, Jeff Rosenbaum has been at Currie Motors Ford of Valpo – even before that was the dealership’s name. He spends most of his time behind the parts counter and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge as the parts department’s manager thanks to a career that began by circumstance.
In 1978, the dealership was under different ownership and went by a different name. A teenage Rosenbaum’s dad worked there as a car salesman, and Rosenbaum dropped by the dealer to talk to him when the construction company he was working for folded.
“I cried the blues to him that I was out of work and not sure what I wanted to do,” he said. “While I was talking to my dad, the used car manager at the time said they could use a gofer – they call them porters now. I said ‘Okay’ and that was the start of things.”
As a porter, he was a jack-of-all-trades, handling all the miscellaneous tasks that the dealership needed to be done while the salespeople worked with customers. A couple of months later, he moved to the parts department as a parts driver and started to work his way up the ladder to his current managerial role. He liked the work and it fit his interests.
“The one thing about your dad being a car salesman is that he’d bring home all kinds of different cars all the time,” Rosenbaum said. “I got into cars very early on. Back in those days, if somebody wanted to see a particular car it was okay for him to bring it home on the weekend to show the person and then take it to the dealership on Monday morning.”
Young Rosenbaum saw everything from Mustangs to Torinos thanks to his father’s work.
“He’d bring home all kinds of cool things,” he said. “I’d get to ride in them, and later on even drive them. It was pretty neat.”
As parts manager, he still needs to be a jack-of-all-trades, just as he was as a porter over 40 years ago. If there is a problem, he needs to know how to handle it.
“You have to be a big-time fireman,” he said. “You’re on the hook for the inventory, keeping it clean, and purchasing what we need. Sometimes purchasing is a gut feeling. The computer tells us a number but, but you need to know when you might need a couple more parts than what the computer is telling you.”
Despite the challenge, managing all of the ins and outs of parts and different Ford programs has long been Rosenbaum’s favorite part of the job.
“Back in the heyday of the previous ownership, we were probably at $125,000 of parts inventory,” he recalled. “Now we touch $800,000, if not more, at times. Keeping track of that inventory, making sure it’s clean and running smoothly so that my team can get the part they need right away instead of searching for something that’s not where it’s supposed to be – it makes everyone’s life easier.”
Just as important as managing the parts, is managing relationships – both within his team and with the dealership’s other departments.
“We all get along great,” he said. “When things get busy, it can get tense, but at the end of the day, you give your guys a hug. The more people get along, the better work you can do. The parts team, all these guys and girls would do anything for me – they’re the kind of people that’ll do something for you without even needing to ask.”
Rosenbaum credited the parts and service director, Mark Benakovich, Service Manager Roger Galvan, Officer Manager Darla Dox, and General Manager Frank Herrera for fostering that positive culture.
To learn more about Currie Motors Ford of Valpo, visit www.fordofvalpo.com.