Jeep Is More Than a Brand at Schumacher

You don’t have to own a Jeep to sell them, but Rich Harward wouldn’t have it any other way. Throughout his 25-year auto retail career, the past 12 of which have been spent with the Schumacher Family of Dealerships, Harward has always invested in the products he represents. Schumacher acquired its Delray, Fla., Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership in October 2015 and put Harward at the helm as general manager. Since that moment, the former U.S. Marine and longtime Jeep admirer has been “fully immersed” in the brand.

Pull onto the lot in Delray or in North Palm Beach, where Harward is GM of Schumacher’s Buick GMC Chevrolet Volkswagen store, and you might spot a lifted and heavily customized 2018 Wrangler in OD green. That’s his.

“It’s a really special brand and it’s a brand you don’t really have to sell,” Harward says. “Most of the prospects for a Jeep have already done their research. They just need to find the one that’s right for them.”

Trail-Riding Trio: General Manager Rich Harward (center) is flanked by
Jeep Sales Managers Seth Gray and Rob Piekielski.

Work It Like a Business

Harward’s own career began somewhat inauspiciously. In 1994, shortly after leaving the Marine Corps, he took a friend’s advice and joined the sales staff of a Chevrolet dealership in his native South Carolina. Clearly restraining himself, he describes the state of automotive sales training at that time as “rough,” having been equipped only with a phone, a desk and a few product books. Falling back on his military training, he resolved to follow instructions and be regimented in his approach to the job. He had the support of management and the example set by experienced salespeople, but he realized true success would require an entrepreneurial mindset.

“It takes a lot of self-motivation. You are an independent contractor, and they’re providing the customers, the inventory and the space, and you do with it what you would do as business owner. That’s how I looked at it.”

Harward says he quickly came to enjoy the work and the family-owned dealership, where he would remain for more than nine years. After spending two years in law enforcement, he returned to automotive, serving as general sales manager and then general manager at an independent dealership in Greenville, S.C., before getting the call from Schumacher.

Dealership training has come a long way since 1994, and Harward has made good on a promise he made to himself in those early days.

“When I decided this was going to be my career, I said that, if I ever got the chance to be in control, I would do things differently — not only in the way we hire but the way we train,” Harward says, noting that candidates are interviewed by a panel that includes Harward and two other managers, and the majority rules. They’re looking for a personality fit, not necessarily someone with automotive experience, and those who are hired get the training and guidance they need to be successful. “When you hire an employee, it’s your responsibility to make them successful. With that mentality, you can create quite a team.”

Ken Cadmus is general sales manager for the Schumacher group, whose daily inventory of new and used Jeeps averages up to 300 units.

Enthusiasts on the Payroll

The Schumacher group is highly diversified. Both of Harward’s dealerships sell new Volkswagens. The Chrysler-dominant Delray location also has Subaru and Lincoln franchises. The North Palm Beach operation includes a pre-owned center. That’s a total of roughly a dozen businesses in two locations, but Jeep is hardly lost in the shuffle. Schumacher Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram is one of the biggest Wrangler dealers in the state, and Harward reports total monthly Jeep sales are in the 100- to 125-unit range — up from 70 to 80 under the previous ownership.

Harward’s secret sauce is a massive inventory — averaging up to 300 Jeeps on any given day — and a matching investment in the brand. The Delray service shop stocks a long list of Mopar parts and accessories, and technicians stand ready to lift, modify and customize a Jeep to match its owner’s vision. Harward’s Jeep sales managers are Seth Gray, a former fellow Marine, and Rob Piekielski, a died-in-the-wool Jeep enthusiast. And Harward, Gray and Piekielski do more than talk the talk.

“We live and breathe Jeep,” the GM says. “Myself and my managers are both part of multiple clubs.”

In June 2018, the dealership hosted its first annual Jeep Show & Competition, which drew hundreds of enthusiasts and spectators and included a raffle of donated Jeep accessories that raised $7,500 for Forgotten Soldiers Outreach. Harward says his team is already in the planning stages for a follow-up event. But he stresses that Jeepers need not wait for the next event or even their next purchase to pay a visit to the store. Whether you want to buy a rig or sell one, Jeep owners are always welcome at Delray.

“We started using Kelley Blue Book’s Instant Cash Offer, so we’ll buy any car, even if you don’t want another one,” he says. “We’re interested in any Jeep. We just bought a ’78 Wrangler CJ-5. We put it in the showroom.”

Safety and Convenience

Like most Jeep dealers, Harward credits the 2004 introduction of the four-door Wrangler “Unlimited” (now JL) with attracting greater numbers of car buyers — including those with families — to the brand. But a longer wheelbase and a couple extra doors are not the whole story, he adds. The manufacturer and its dealers had to break through several decades’ worth of misconceptions surrounding the Wrangler, an enduring American classic that was nonetheless once widely perceived as a novelty.

“The fact is this vehicle was not on a lot of people’s shortlist. They would look at the soft top and rollbar and not realize how safe Jeeps are. They would look inside and it was all metal and basic,” he says. “So they’ve done a phenomenal job of making the inside of the Wrangler look up-to-date and current — all the luxuries you would have in an SUV or car — and you can still accessorize it like an off-road vehicle.”

Asked when Schumacher would place its first orders for the upcoming Gladiator, the first Jeep pickup to be sold in North America since the Comanche wrapped production in 1992, “That’s the million-dollar question,” Harward responds. “We’re anticipating it arriving hopefully in June. We’ve been waiting on that for a while. There’s a lot of buzz, a lot of excitement.”

Until then, Delray’s Jeep customers have plenty to choose from. Harward says all Jeepers, whether off-roaders or daily drivers, tend to bring an encyclopedia’s worth of product knowledge to the store. Some dealers and sales professionals might be intimidated by that. Harward and his team are not. Informed customers are the best kind, he says, and if they’re greeted with equal parts respect and enthusiasm, they’ll remain with the right dealership for the long haul.

“That’s how we train our salespeople: ‘Sit down with that customer and make a lifelong friend. They’re going to buy from you your entire career.’”

Nuts and Bolts

Richard “Rich” Harward is a Jeep enthusiast and the general manager of two dealerships in the Schumacher Family group, including its Delray, Fla., Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram store, which is among the region’s largest-volume Wrangler dealerships.

Schumacher Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Delray
2102 S Federal Hwy A 33483
Sales: (844) 599-8881
Service: (844) 605-2409

Inside Jerry Ulm Jeep

There are so many great things about owning a Jeep. The community, the quality, the versatility — the list goes on. Another possible addition is the sense of goodwill that seems to extend out to the dealerships — or rather the owners and team at the dealerships — as well. This combination of owners and suppliers makes for a very compelling case to anyone who is not already part of the Jeepin’ community — and those who already belong are probably not surprised.

Drei Ulm, general manager at Jerry Ulm Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Tampa, Fla., has been working at his family business since they bought the dealership in 1990. Starting out sweeping the lot, he returned home after attending college to carry on his family’s legacy of conducting business with integrity.

“I won the parental lottery between him and my mother. Good, honest people who have always done the right thing. I like to think I do the same,” Ulm says.

Company History

Jerry Ulm CDJR is now part of the Morgan Auto Group, but the dealership itself has been around since the late ’60s. “They’re wonderful people. About as likeminded as we could be,” Ulm says about Morgan Auto Group. Drei was 7 when his father, Jerry Ulm, acquired the business. He worked his way up from detailing and washing cars in high school to upper management.

Ulm has monitored the trends of the Jeep brand over the years, and he is looking forward to seeing the new lineup of trucks and SUVs coming in. The next-generation Wrangler and the long-awaited Jeep pickup truck have very recently been ordered. Ulm is excited about these new developments.

“It’s been interesting to watch it progress. When the four-door Wrangler came out, some people were hesitant at first,” Ulm says. “It wasn’t considered traditionalist. Back then, we were selling twice as many two-doors. Now it’s the opposite. We’re in Tampa and people love the Jeep name. They want to drive a Jeep, have kids, and need utility that comes with extra space.”

The dealership supplies customers with the option of a reconditioned pre-owned Jeep with a rapidly rotating stock of mostly Wranglers. Ulm wants his customers to be confident his team has taken care of these used vehicles as if they were their own.


Jerry Ulm was among the first Chrysler dealerships to receive the Customer First Award for Excellence. Speaking to the level of customer service and sales, many team members have been with them for more than 10 years. Drei Ulm says that, if you are looking to have a solid relationship with a supplier, this is the place to do it. Consistency is the best kind of experience as a customer, and these guys have it.

“I think one of the main reasons we received this award is because you’re generally going to see a familiar face.”

The service center is known for holding up these values as well, and again, the expertise in this department has also proven that longevity works. All of the dealership management-level employees have been with them for no less than 12 years. They have continuously kept some of the highest customer service scores in the business center and the country.

“We don’t sell customers things they don’t need. In the event we do make a mistake, we make it right. It’s just the right thing to do,” Ulm notes. They also have an onsite express service and accessories department where they are capable of doing lifts and modifications. “We have a couple guys back there who love doing it. A lot of them have Jeeps themselves.”

One of these guys in Ulm’s service department just happens to be Alex Perez, vice president of the Tampa Jeep Krewe. You can read more about his Jeepin’ group and what they are up to in our last issue (“The Growth of a Giving Community,” November/December 2017, Page 12). As Ulm puts it, if you are going to get work done on your Jeep, you want someone who puts their rig through the ringer and understands what needs to be done to keep your Jeep rolling.

Nuts and Bolts

Drei Ulm, manager at his family dealership, Jerry Ulm Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM, is determined to provide his customers with an honest service and support before, during and after doing business together.
Jerry Ulm Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram
2966 N Dale Mabry Hwy 33607
Sales: (813) 872-6645
Service: (813) 249-0404

Price Game

As availability multiplies, dealers are working overtime to help customers sort through all the vehicles, options and terms available to Jeep buyers. When it comes to pricing, the flashy, discounted numbers can catch your eye, but Ulm warns Jeepers to be wary of the experience to follow. He wholeheartedly disagrees with the trend in vehicle advertising that lures you in with a price that has every discount and rebate available tacked on to the advertised dollar amount.

The disillusionment settles in once customers realize that many of these discounts are not available to everyone, Ulm says, and in his advertisements, you are seeing what you get.

“I have seen advertising that will have verbiage buried a page deep in the tiniest print possible. The trend on the pre-owned side: The cost of reconditioning is not included. Effectively, they can tell you and it’s not advertised online. This unfortunately puts us at an advertising disadvantage, but we refuse to do that. It’s incredibly dishonest.”

Drei Ulm says you are looking for a new or used Jeep and want a quick, honest and full-service experience, Jerry Ulm Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Tampa is worth checking out. To have anything guaranteed is a lot to ask, but what is clear at Jerry Ulm, is that they will try their best to guarantee you expertise with a great experience.