By Mike Hazlip—
Kevin Mantz, general manager of the newly re-branded Future Honda at Greenback Lane and Auburn Boulevard, has deep roots in Citrus Heights.
Mantz graduated from San Juan High School in 1984 after moving from Southern California with his family, and his father was also a San Juan High School alumnus, class of 1961.
After high school, Mantz said he worked for what was then called the Trellis Cafe inside Fountain Square Nursery, which later became City Hall and is now home to a three-story medical office building. His boss at the time was Henry Kroger, husband of Catherine Van Maren. He remembers meeting people from various areas at Sunrise Mall as it was the only regional mall at the time.
He says he’s always been comfortable talking to people when someone noticed him at a party and invited him to work a summer job at a car dealership.That summer job soon turned full-time.
“I was making some money and so I struggled with school still,” he said recounting his determination to pass a college math class at CSU Sacramento. “I was struggling. I mean, horribly. And that was it. I remember. I just walked out and I went over to Maita Toyota.”
Mantz worked for that dealership for the next nine years, finding that he enjoyed working in car sales.
“It’s nice when you enjoy going and you enjoy doing what you do, and I really liked it,” Mantz said, adding he doesn’t consider himself a car aficionado but he does spend his days off going to car shows. “I just like cars, and people, and the two together just seemed to be kind of a natural for me.”
Last year, Future Automotive Group acquired Maita Honda, changing the name to Future Honda. The local dealership is now one of 13 dealerships in Future Automotive Group’s portfolio, and Mantz says there’s a lot of possibilities for the business.
“The reason why they bought this store is it has so much upside,” Mantz said. “It’s on nine acres, so there’s a lot of room for growth. Right now, my head is full of all the things that I could do here for a long time.”
Although he has helped other dealerships get going, Mantz credits his team for the success in building Future Automotive up from three dealerships to what it is today.
“I’ve been blessed with some really good people that have done an amazing job for me over the years,” he said. “And so for me, it’s a lot of fun to build that team and take a blank canvas, get in there and start to teach people the Future Way is what we actually call it, how we like to do things.”
That “Future Way” is focused on customer service, and he says his career is in the customer’s hands.
“If you can come in with a process and you can have happy employees, happy employees create happy customers and happy customers grow your business faster than anything you could ever hope to do,” he said. “[You can] spend all the money in advertising in the world and if you don’t have happy employees and customers, you’re really just fighting against advertising dollars.”
Along with customer service, Future Automotive Group values giving back to the community, according to Mantz. He says the company encourages employees to look for ways to help their communities.
“At all different levels, we do charity, it as a global company,” Mantz said of Future Automotive Group. “They do a lot, and then we’re encouraged to do things with within the community.”
It’s been 37 years since Mantz started that summer job with a dealership, and the married father of three says the time seems to have gone by quickly, on most days.
“At times now it’s a blink of an eye, 37 years has gone by,” he said. “And then other times you feel every bit of it. It really does depend on the day and what’s going on.”