Craig and Landreth Cars is Committed to Customers and Community
Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
June of 2021 marks 73 years that Larry Craig has been part of the Louisville community. Born and raised in the area, he has spent 56 of those years happily immersed in the automobile industry. At 17 years old, he started working for a Chevrolet dealership here in Louisville, working first in the office before transitioning into sales. Once he started selling cars, it was clear that he had a knack for it. He realized how much he loved it, and it was all due to the people he got to help each and every day.
“I like people,” Craig says. “I like building relationships with my customers and vendors. A lot of customers even end up becoming friends.”
In 1970 Craig went into business with his friend Roy Phelps. Three years later, the pair opened a Ford dealership in Morgantown, Kentucky. He returned to Louisville in 1975 to open Craig and Landreth Cars with another close friend, Henry Landreth. Sadly, Landreth was involved in a fatal boating accident in 1977. Although he lost a close friend and business partner, Craig decided against changing the company name, as a tribute to their friendship. Now he co-owns the business with his son Joey, and it’s a family affair through and through.
“My sons, grandson, granddaughter and nephew all work here,” Craig says. “It’s definitely a family-owned and -run business. Everyone here has got skin in the game.”
Craig has a long tradition of involvement in his local community. He has contributed to, and actively participated in, numerous projects and organizations, including Kosair Charities, a nonprofit that is near and dear to his heart, and for which he serves on the board of directors. Founded in 1923, Kosair Charities is a nearly 100-year-old charitable foundation that partners with pediatric organizations across Kentucky and southern Indiana, with the goal of enhancing the health and well-being of children with medical conditions.
Craig’s care for the community extends to his customers, who are his number-one priority.
“We are customer-first people – we always try to do what’s right,” says Craig, who is the only used car dealer ever to be on the board of directors for the Better Business Bureau.
He has also served as president of the Kentucky Automobile Dealers Association, the Greater Louisville Automobile Dealers Association, and the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Commission.
“I tell my team that the nicest person in the world can end up being the worst person in the world if you don’t treat them right,” Craig says. “I’ve seen it happen. You treat people the way you want to be treated.”
Most dealerships are corporate-owned, so when a potential customer steps on the lot, much of the time they are not talking to someone who can actually make a decision. According to Craig, car buying should be the simplest thing you can do.
“The only thing that makes it complicated is the people you’re dealing with,” he says. “We’ve always got somebody here to help our customers, whether it’s me, my sons, my nephew or my grandson. If a customer has a question, we can instantly give them help.”
Craig maintains that his staff does business the same way every time.
“It’s easy and transparent, with no surprises,” Craig says. “It’s really a very simple process.”
According to Craig, that process is easier now than it has ever been, due to increased consumer knowledge about the automobile industry. That’s all due to technology, and the fact that information is now just a click away. Armed with a wealth of knowledge, car buying can be much less stressful than it once was. By doing online research, prospective buyers can find a car at a good price, search to find out the car’s history, figure out what a monthly payment should be, and get an idea of what their trade-in is worth.
Craig and Landreth’s inventory is automatically updated on their website on a daily basis, so consumers can be sure that they are getting a full and accurate view of what is available at any given time.
“Knowledge makes the deal a lot easier and a lot fairer because you’re dealing on an equal basis,” says Craig, who estimates that 75% of the people who come to his business have visited the company website, which means they already have a few vehicles in mind. “They know what we should be asking for the car, and they have all the knowledge they need to decide if it’s a good deal for them or not.”
Despite being well-informed, when it comes to car shopping, one can easily get overwhelmed from the massive amount of information available online. Also, information can sometimes be misleading or just plain false.
“We had a guy in here recently who said he found a car on the internet in Nashville that was $1,000 cheaper than ours,” Craig says. “We ran a Carfax on the car and found that it had been a total loss and was a rebuilt car with a salvaged title.”
Armed with that knowledge, the man decided that the cheaper vehicle was not the one he wanted to purchase.
“Our car was $1,000 more, but he was getting what he paid for,” Craig says. “The other one was not a good deal.”
As a full-service dealership with an inventory of more than 500 vehicles, Craig and Landreth Cars specializes in pre-owned vehicles that are in great shape.
“We do a 110-point inspection on every certified vehicle that we sell,” Craig says. “We check to make sure they don’t have any issues before leaving the lot.”
Because the company has a full-service shop, the staff does not have to send anything to a third party for repair, which saves both time and money – savings that ultimately get passed down to the consumer.
“We can work on our cars here, so you’ve got somebody to go back to if you have a problem,” Craig says. “That makes the shopping process a whole lot easier.”
Craig says customers want service, transparency and honesty.
“Those are the three things you’ve got to have,” he says.
Convenience is another nice perk, and that’s something the company offers through a concierge service that started during the pandemic. They provide the purchase price of the vehicle, all of the conditions, and everything else you need to know. If you’re interested in test driving but don’t want to come to the dealership, they will bring the car to you as long as you live within 50 miles. During COVID-19 last year, a lot of people used and appreciated this service.
It’s this dedication to customer care that scores the company repeat clients and tons of referrals. Plus, due to their longevity in the industry, they now have second- and third-generation customers.
“I’ve seen a lot of these kids grow up,” Craig says. “We’ve been in business so long, we’re selling cars to their grandkids now.”