The banana guy…

I love stories about people who come to the car business from places and jobs so diverse you would never think they could succeed. Inspiring, motivating and in many ways humbling these life stories are part of the human experience that makes be proud. Here is just such a story:

James Koluboi works at Liberty Toyota in Burlington, New Jersey and is one of their top producers month to month and year to year. However, as impressive as his numbers are (both unit totals and gross) what sets James apart is how sincerely friendly and engaging he is with ANYONE who walks into the dealership. Always smiling, friendly and engaging. The first time I met James he made it feel as though we already knew each other and that he was genuinely glad to see me…even though I was not there to purchase a vehicle.

James is a very interesting person. He is from Uganda. He has a degree in Accounting. However, prior to coming to the US and learning to sell automobiles, James sold bananas in front the US embassy. Day in and day out…in the heat of the sweltering summers and foul weather of the winters…James sold bananas to the business people and politicians coming in and out of the Embassy. Always happy and polite…James sold bananas.

One of James’ dreams was to bring his family to the US and live “the dream”. However, how would he ever come from there to here with nothing? Well, James saved a little here and there from his banana sales and kept dreaming. And one day his break came. While speaking to one of his customers he happened to mention that his dream was to live in the USA. As good preparation, hard work and fortune would have it…the man James was speaking to was the US Ambassador. He had always noticed James selling his bananas every day, regardless of the weather and took special notice that James was always happy and always friendly to everyone. That day the US Ambassador helped to make one man and his family, very, very happy. He told James that he could grant him a Visa to come to the US, and would do so because he believed James would be a good citizen and would work hard to make himself a success.

James speaks with a very heavy scent and often is difficult to understand. However, I have visited and spoken with James at length and his accent is actually very endearing and in fact causes one to listen harder to what he is saying. I watched James work with several customers over the course of the week long placement and training project I was working on and what really stood out was that it seemed his customers smiled a lot. And I mean smiled almost constantly. They were actually enjoying the process of their car buying experience. And while this dealership culture is very positive and has very high customer service ratings…there is just something special going on at James’ desk. And by-the-way…his business consist of nearly 85% referrals. He takes no ups and no incoming phone calls. He does not need to….he is busy with referral s, introductions and other new business he is developing all the time.

There are many other philosophies that James lives by; absolute integrity, personalized service and a work ethic that has him arrive at the dealership with a smile on his face at 7:30 a.m. to work with any customers who may be in the service department. James does his job every day, works hard, focuses on his customers and succeeds. Then he goes home to his beautiful family. James is living the dream.

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