Team Chevy’s Salesman Mike Cairns: Going from Valpo PD to Chevy’s “Corvette Mike”

Team Chevy’s Salesman Mike Cairns: Going from Valpo PD to Chevy’s “Corvette Mike”

Three years ago, Mike Cairns retired from the Valparaiso Police Department after nearly 12 years of service – but he was not one to simply start relaxing at home. Instead, he took up a longstanding offer from a friend, TeamChevrolet of Valparaiso’s General Manager Dave Brubaker, to try his hand selling cars.

As an officer, he’d often spend time at the dealership when things were quiet, chatting with the team about life and cars. He knew he wouldn’t be in the force forever, and Brubaker offered him an open position whenever he decided to turn in his badge.

“I’d been a gearhead my whole life, so I’d stop in and talk to the managers and salespeople when I had downtime or to do some foot patrol,” he said. “I talked to Dave and said selling cars might be something I was interested in when I retired, and he said, ‘We’d love to have you, just let me know.’”

Cairns credits his father with sparking his initial interest in cars back when he was a kid.

“My dad was a gearhead, though he didn’t talk about it too much,” he said. “He used to go drag racing at the U.S. 30 Drag Strip, and that’s kinda how I got the bug. He was a car guy and I followed in his footsteps.”

Throughout his life, he tinkered with his cars, kept up with all the industry news, read car magazines, and more. Combine that interest with a skill for conversation from his years as a police officer, and he quickly adjusted to life as a car salesman.

“It was a fairly easy transition for me,” he said. “I’ve been dealing with the public for over twenty years, so I have the knack to gab and I love talking, so I just felt comfortable.”

Cairns, like the rest of the sales crew at Team Chevy, puts the customer first. He works to puzzle out their needs and match them with the car that best fits them and their financial situation.

“My number one priority is to put them in a vehicle they’re going to enjoy and feel good about making a payment on,” he said. “It’s about finding a medium – someone might come in wanting an $80,000 Suburban, but I know they don’t want that kind of payment. So instead, we find something that suits their needs that they’re going to be happy with.”

Many of the customers he works with have only ever owned used cars, and their excitement when they drive off in a new vehicle is his favorite part of the job.

“I love seeing people’s happiness when they get a new car,” he said. “I’ve helped people who have never owned a new car in their life.”

He was still new to the dealership when he had one particularly memorable sale to a customer in a tough situation.

“I hadn’t been here that long when a guy came in – he had a really high interest rate on a car he had, gone through divorce and had poor credit,” he said. “We got him into a new car, and the look his face was amazing, he said ‘Mike, I never thought I’d own a new car in my entire life. I really appreciate you guys getting me into a new car.’ He was just so extremely happy.”

Brubaker was quick to recognize Cairns’ capabilities, and how paired with his passion he’d make a great fit to sell Chevy’s premiere model – Corvettes. He gave Cairns the responsibility to handle all Corvette sales – earning him the title “Corvette Mike.”

“I’m a fanatic when it comes to performance cars,” Cairns said. “The Corvette is an American sports car, an iconic vehicle that’s been around since ’53. It’s just an incredible car, and every new model year it gets massive improvements. The new C8 is an incredible performance car, competing against cars that are two or three times its cost.”

Cairns takes a slightly different approach to Corvette customers, as it is often not a car they are purchasing for everyday use.

“Corvette owners are a different type of customer, they’re particular about everything,” he said. “A lot of them, they only drive them in the summertime, they don’t drive them in the rain. They’re meticulous about their vehicles, it’s a prized possession.”

Overall, whether it’s a Corvette, Camera, Malibu, Silverado, or a Bolt –Cairns boiled his job down to one simple philosophy.

“I’m here to put you in a car that suits your needs, for a good price,” he said. “I’m here to have you become a part of the Team Chevy family, because that’s how we treat our customers, like family. We’re transparent, that’s one of the big reasons I’m with this team.”

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