Carl Morley, owner of Ohana Subaru in Waipahu, took over the dealership in December after former owner Schuman Carriage closed many of its outlets.

Car dealer steps out
on his own

Carl Morley

» Morley just finished his first quarter as owner of Ohana Subaru in Waipahu. He took over the former Schuman Carriage dealership in December after Schuman announced it would terminate its relationship with automaker General Motors and close its GM dealerships.
» Morley, a longtime isle resident, joined Schuman in 1995 after eight years with the management staff at Tony Hawaii. He previously worked at Pearl Harbor Volkswagen-Subaru for about eight years and Universal Motors for 10 years.
» Age: 66 years.

Question: What did you pay for the dealership?

Answer: I just more or less took it over from Schuman. I took over the lease and bought some tools. I actually didn't pay Schuman anything. I just wanted to retire and keep it in the Subaru family since Gustav "Dutch" Schuman will be the distributor. I just agreed to take over the expenses and run it. There was some money and things, but nothing significant.

Q: How long has the dealership been around?

A: Twenty-five years ago, I worked here in this same store for Ken Matsumoto when it was Pearl Harbor Volkswagen-Subaru. Schuman had been here about five years as Subaru. It's always been a dealership.

Q: What's your impressions from the first few months of being an owner?

A: You're a lot more cost-conscious of everything, of course. You really do realize that you have employees. Like many of the employees I've worked here for many many years. It's a real burden to make sure we can continue successfully for the employees' benefit.

Q: How did first quarter go compared with previous year?

A: We probably didn't do as well for the simple reason when the name Schuman was on the building and with all the publicity when Schuman closed a lot of people thought this store also closed. I'll never forget the first day it was Ohana Subaru and there was not one car in. I was, 'Oh man this is not good.' Some people are happy that it's not Schuman and some people are not as happy that it's not Schuman. But it's taken a while ... to get going. I feel a lot better about it than the first couple of months. I was a little hesitant. Actually right now is a tough time to get quality used cars. As a Subaru dealer you're not going to sell more than 20 new Subarus a month, so you have to rely on your service and used cars a lot.

Q: How much of the business is new cars and how much is used cars?

A: It's going to be probably about 50-50.

Q: Any changes?

A: We're not going to make any changes for the first year or so. I haven't got any major plans right now.

This lease is only good for another five years. I'm not really sure what we're going to do because the whole lease has to be renegotiated at that time. Our intention is to continue as a Subaru dealer and service department. We have the best of the best of employees from Schuman.

Q: Where does Subaru rank in terms of overall Hawaii auto brand sales?

A: It's way down. We only have about 2 percent of the market. It's all stayed just about the same. They have some good brands. Since it's all-wheel drive it's a little more expensive than a Toyota or Honda or things like that. Even though it's one of the safest and best cars built. The Sun Belt states don't sell a lot, but in winter the other states sell a lot.

Q: What are Hawaii Subaru buyers looking for?

A: They're looking more for the safety and the dependability of the automobile. And of course the younger kids with the Impreza WRX STi. It's a real sports car, 300 horsepower and it's something the kids really enjoy. The Forester is the best SUV for the island because it's smaller for the island and it's so dependable. That's probably one of our best sellers.

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