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FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) celebrates dealer partners who go above and beyond for their communities, and in the case of Bayside Mitsubishi owner Alex Sinno, for their country. With our latest Dealer Partner Spotlight, today we are proud to introduce you to Retired U.S. Army Sergeant and Bayside Mitsubishi Dealer Principal, Alex Sinno, along with his powerful story of chance encounters, reinvention and determination. Because of partners like Alex, our communities, our country, and our company are safer and stronger today.
FIVE QUESTIONS WITH ALEX SINNO
Retired U.S. Army Sergeant and Bayside Mitsubishi (La Porte, TX) Dealer Principal
- The year was 2005 – you were 24 years old, from Lebanon, and you’d just emigrated to the U.S. Yes, my mother and brother had been in America for some time, and I’d just moved from Dubai to be with them. At that time, my brother had a small shop, where I was working, trying to get acclimated to a new country. One day, soon after I arrived, a man – a colonel in the U.S. Army – walked into the shop, and when he discovered that I spoke Arabic fluently, he encouraged me to explore a career in the Army as a translator. Well, he wasn’t kidding around. The next day, a recruiter came into the store, and the day after that, I was on a 5 a.m. flight to basic training, then I was off to Iraq with only my passport in my pocket, and I didn’t stop moving for the next three years.
- You came home a decorated soldier, having received a National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon Armed Forces Reserved Medal and the Army Commendation Medal. What was it like for you to return to the Middle East as a U.S. citizen, working in the Army? During my time as an interpreter, I assisted in 150 tactical missions, and many times, I was called on to fill the role of many different interpreters at once. I am very proud of my service in the U.S. Army and of my Middle Eastern heritage. Because of my language skills and my knowledge of the Arab culture, I was able to help diffuse tense situations, in war-stricken areas, that may have otherwise turned violent. Helping to build bridges between the different cultures, both of them a part of me, was very rewarding.
- And how did you get started in the automotive industry? When I returned home, I met my wife and I partnered with her stepdad to build a buy-here, pay-here auto consignment business. If you drove onto a lot wanting to sell your vehicle, we would buy it from you, and get you into another car the same day. The model was very successful, and eventually, people started asking if we offered financing. This was my first experience with financing, so I worked to make relationships with the banks, to give the customers what they wanted, and the business grew from there. Unfortunately, following some family drama, the business was dissolved, and I was left to re-build and re-imagine by success, and the next step for me was the franchise business.
- In 2019, when you were 37 years old, you bought a majority stake in what is now Bayside Mitsubishi, and since then, you have consistently grown the business. In 2021, your sales are up 73 percent year over year. How did do you do it? After the family business dissolved, I went to work for Nissan, starting as a sales associate, and I worked my tail off, often until 9 or 10 p.m. I sold 30 cars in 45 days, and on day 45, I was made used-car manager. My time at the Nissan dealership gave me all of the fundamentals I needed to start my own business, and in 2018, I opened Texas Auto Save, with the goal of helping low-income people find a reliable pre-owned car. Naturally, we make a special point to help our military and first-responder customers. Once that business was off the ground, I began looking for a franchise. I found LaPorte Mitsubishi, and I fell in love with the quality and value of Mitsubishi vehicles. The dealership needed a lot of work, but after bringing in a new finance team, and changing the name, we are finding tremendous success. The new vehicles are beautiful, and they’re flying off our lots.
- Finally, today at 39, you are a young, rising star in the business. What advice do you have for the next generation of dealers, particularly those of color, who are overcoming barriers and working hard to achieve the same success? You never know where your big break is going to come from. Even when I wasn’t at the dealership, I was selling. After spending a full day on the lot, I went to a football game with my wife, and ran into a doctor from my mosque. I told him about the business, and out of the blue, he asked to invest. I was blown away, but I went right to work. I took his investment and doubled it in six months. I came to this country without a GED, and through hard work, I was able to make my dreams come true. Today, I am proud to support the dreams of other young people.
In honor of Veterans Day and following the inspiring 2021 Rebelle Rally finish of its all-veteran team in the all-new 2022 Outlander, MMNA doubled its year-round military discount from $500 to $1,000 in November. Even without that one-month bump, MMNA’s military purchasing incentive remains one of the industry’s strongest. This is just one small token of Mitsubishi Motors’ enormous appreciation for U.S. military, their families, and the sacrifices they’ve made.