The Bill Knight Advantage is Happy in Tulsa
By D. FORREST CAMERON
Editor and Publisher
WELCOMING CUSTOMERS: Bill Knight at his Bill Knight Ford location at 9607 S. Memorial Dr. in Tulsa. Additional Knight dealerships include Bill Knight Lincoln Mercury and Jaguar Tulsa. He also owns Tulsa Collision Repair. The Bill Knight Advantage includes a low price guarantee on new vehicles, a 90 day warranty on used vehicles and a lifetime power train warranty on all new vehicles sold.
DANIEL C. CAMERON for GTR Newspapers
The name Bill Knight has become synonymous with success, at least in greater Tulsa where the Bill Knight name is identified with four outstanding area automobile dealerships.
The Pennsylvanian moved to Tulsa in 1998, and since that time he has become a leader in the Tulsa business community.
Knight had somewhat of a circuitous career in the automotive industry before he settled in Tulsa.
He was raised in Uniontown, Pa., near Pittsburgh, and attended Westminster College in his home state.
Knight went to work in sales and marketing for Ford Motor Company in Pittsburgh after college. Over the next 14 years, he worked for Ford in Pittsburgh, Detroit, Denver, and again back to Pittsburgh.
He left Ford in 1998 to come to Tulsa to help start the Auto Collection.
“We moved a lot, four times in nine years. I was looking for a place to plant family roots. I had been to Tulsa before and liked the city very much. I had known Don Thornton and thought the world of him. Between Don Thornton and Tulsa, we knew Tulsa would be a great place to call home.”
Knight became Chief Operating Officer of the Tulsa Auto Collection, then in 2001 Roger Penske, the internationally famous racing and automotive guru, purchased the Auto Collection. Knight purchased the dealerships from Penske Automotive Group in June of 2008. His dealerships include Bill Knight Ford, Bill Knight Lincoln Mercury, Jaguar Tulsa and Volvo of Tulsa. He also owns Tulsa Collision Repair.
Knight discusses the timing of his purchase with a wry smile. “My timing could have been better. Gasoline had gone over $4 per gallon, and when the gasoline prices went down, the stock market crashed and the nation went into the credit crunch. But we have been able to navigate through the storm.”
And navigate he has. Currently Bill Knight Ford and Bill Knight Lincoln Mercury are the number one sales volume Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers in Oklahoma, and Jaguar Tulsa is the number one Jaguar dealer in Oklahoma. “It would have been easy to continue with Penske Automotive in another market,” Knight says. I didn’t want to do that. I’m a Ford guy and Tulsa is home.” He is so much a Ford guy that he is one of 24 members of the Ford and Lincoln Mercury Dealer Council, where he is invited to give input on a national basis to the senior leaders at Ford Motor Company.
Knight attributes much of his success to his employees. “We have been in Tulsa ten years, and we have developed a great team of employees. We have very low turnover and long tenured employees. We work hard to create a career path for our employees. We have some employees who started with us at 18 years old who are now managers and accounting professionals. I am very proud of them.”
The employee retention has resulted in great customer satisfaction scores. Knight says, “We have long-time customers with repeat business. I think it is important for our customers to come into the showroom, service, parts and collision repair departments and see familiar faces.”
Whether they are first time buyers or long-time customers, buyers come to experience what has become known as the Knight Advantage: a low price guarantee on new vehicles, a 90 day warranty on used vehicles and a lifetime power train warranty on all new vehicles sold.
Knight says he is very confident in Ford. He mentions the different products available and others coming on line. He notes the 2009 Motor Trend Truck of the Year, the all-new ‘09 F-150 which is very strong demand. He also mentions the Taurus (with the 2010 version coming in July), the Focus, the Fusion and Mustang, as well as future vehicles such as the 2011 Fiesta. And of course there are the crossovers, SUV’s and Trucks. In addition, Ford’s quality now rivals both Honda and Toyota according to a recent study.
Knight is also proud that Ford has not taken government stimulus funding due to wise and intelligent decisions the company has made over the past several years. “Ford has been a leader in restructuring, right sizing and having a plan to not only survive, but thrive in the future.”
Knight has also been a strong supporter of the community. He is a board member of DVIS, the Better Business Bureau and SouthCrest Hospital. He is also an avid sports fan and a fixture at all TU football and basketball games. His son, Ryan Knight, a Holland Hall graduate, plays basketball for James Madison University in Virginia and his daughter Lexy is a freshman at Oklahoma State University. Bill Knight stays busy with his involvement with the Ford and Lincoln Mercury Dealer Councils in Detroit, and going on the road as much as possible to watch his son’s basketball team.
Customers, family and Ford. It’s all part of the successful Knight Advantage, an icon in the greater Tulsa business scene.