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Dealer likes freedom of going it alone

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Paul Proestos is the founder and sole owner of Santa Fe Auto Showcase on south Cerrillos Road near I-25. (Glen Rosales/For the Journal)

Paul Proestos is the founder and sole owner of Santa Fe Auto Showcase on south Cerrillos Road near I-25. (Glen Rosales/For the Journal)

SANTA FE – It’s a long way from upstate New York to the City Different, but Paul Proestos and his wife made the trek six years ago when she was offered a job at a local hotel and spa.

And that gave Proestos a chance to get back into the auto business he loves so much.

“I had a Mercedes-Benz dealership in New York but I got out of it and I was into commercial properties,” he said. “But I just always had a passion for cars.”

So when he was looking to get back into the job market after moving to Santa Fe, he naturally thought about the car business.

He ended up going to work for an upscale dealership “who hired me on the spot,” Proestos said.

But “everything was a struggle,” he said. “I’m grateful to them because they gave me the chance to learn the market but I wanted more freedom to do things my way.”

So after less than two years, Proestos went out on his own, first opening Santa Fe Auto Showcase at the old Navarro dealership on St. Michael’s before moving to a location on Cerrillos Road near I-25.

“It’s a prime zone right on Cerrillos,” he said. “Everything is moving out this way.”

At first glimpse his new location did not appear to be a prime candidate for a dealership as the sight lines from the street were blocked by a 6-foot wall and the office was a cubicle maze.

“The landlord didn’t think I’d be able to make it,” Proestos recalled, adding the landlord offered a very reasonable rent.

And when the walls came down inside and out, it opened up the lot to passersby and improved the traffic to the dealership.

Although not native to the area, Proestos said it was important to him to become a part of the community he now served. “We came to Santa Fe and now call it our home,” he said. “This is our community and our customers are our neighbors.”

Because of that commitment, Proestos encourages “potential buyers to have our vehicles inspected by their own trusted mechanic or repair shop,” he said. “We even go the extra mile and will reimburse your pre-inspection fee if the vehicle is not what we say it is.”

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