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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Front & Center: Andrew Maher of Porsche of Spokane took a roundabout route to find his passion for selling luxury automobiles

Andrew Maher of Porsche of Spokane stands next to a 2018 Porsche GT2RS with Weissach package – list price$379,960 – on Thursday, April 25, 2019. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Andrew Maher of Porsche of Spokane stands next to a 2018 Porsche GT2RS with Weissach package – list price$379,960 – on Thursday, April 25, 2019. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
By Michael Guilfoil For The Spokesman-Review

Growing up, Andrew Maher couldn’t envision a good career fit.

“I just knew I wanted to be wealthy.”

And he knew he loved cars.

“They’ve been my life since I was 2.”

By the time he was 16, Maher already had a Toyota pickup, and a BMW he bought from a friend’s father. Since then, he’s owned 38 other vehicles.

Two years ago, Maher discovered something else he loves as much as buying cars: selling them.

“I feel I was born to do this.”

Since joining Porsche of Spokane in 2017, Maher has sold more than 260 new and used vehicles and helped the Spokane Valley dealership achieve national prominence among Google reviewers.

During a recent interview, Maher discussed valet workouts, his circuitous route to the showroom floor and why he doesn’t own a Porsche.

S-R: Where did you grow up?

Maher: I was born in Spokane, and moved to Woodinville, Washington, in third grade. My family moved back in 2001 because my parents had friends here and were tired of Seattle traffic.

S-R: What was your first job?

Maher: Working at Taco Time when I was 15.

S-R: Was that a good experience?

Maher: It was cool. I feel every young kid needs to have a job to keep their mind focused and teach them how to save money.

S-R: How about college?

Maher: I enrolled because I thought that was what you had to do, but I was never that into it. I started out at Spokane Falls, then attended Eastern, but didn’t graduate. My passions took me elsewhere.

S-R: Such as?

Maher: First to the Davenport Hotel, where I started out as a valet and eventually managed the valet department. That job was fun and kept me in shape. We’d wear pedometers, and figured we’d run anywhere from 2 to 7 miles a shift.

S-R: And got to drive cool cars?

Maher: Oh, yeah. Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porsches were my favorites.

S-R: Then what?

Maher: After 10 years, I switched to medical device sales. I was employee No. 3 of a local startup company. After three years, once our device got FDA approval, I decided to pursue selling cars.

S-R: Your first gig selling cars is a Porsche dealership? How did you manage that?

Maher: When I was a valet, George and Ryan Gee would frequent the Davenport. We talked cars a number of times, and they’d ask if I was ready to come sell cars for them. I always figured I had to follow a certain path before I did what I really wanted to do. Looking back, I wish I would have done it 20 years ago.

S-R: Do you suppose Porsche clients would feel comfortable dealing with a 20-year-old?

Maher: I like to think so. However, I do feel more mature now.

S-R: How has your salesmanship style evolved?

Maher: When I sold medical equipment, there was no excitement when the deal was done. The hospital or doctor was simply fulfilling a need. Selling cars is a personal relationship, and there’s much more excitement at the end of the deal. What motivates me now is putting smiles on people’s faces.

S-R: Do you recall the first car you sold at the dealership?

Maher: A used Audi RS5. It went for around $55,000.

S-R: What did that transaction feel like?

Maher: It was a rush, and I’ve been addicted ever since. Like they say: If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.

S-R: Of the 40 or so cars you’ve owned, how many did you buy from a car salesman?

Maher: Probably 30.

S-R: How would you characterize those transactions?

Maher: Very bad. Most of them fit the stereotype that salesmen are slimy and lie. My goal is to be the car salesman everyone wants to deal with.

S-R: How are you doing?

Maher: We’re among the top-rated Porsche dealerships in the country, according to Google reviews, and I have the most five-star reviews here.

S-R: How would you describe your work ethic?

Maher: There’s a lot of slow time in this business. Some people are content to sit around doing nothing. I don’t like that. When it’s slow, I try to make things happen.

S-R: What do you consider your market?

Maher: I’ve had customers as far away as Florida. A lot of times that’s because someone wants a specific car. Porsche only makes 52,000 a year for the North American market, so if it’s something specific a client wants, they do the deal long distance and we ship them their car.

S-R: Your business card reads “global brand ambassador.” What’s that?

Maher: It’s something you earn. They fly you somewhere for classes, and then you have to pass tests.

S-R: Do some customers still know more about Porsches than you?

Maher: Absolutely.

S-R: And others maybe know practically nothing?

Maher: Sure. But if someone comes in and cites a lot of incorrect data, we aren’t going to be argumentative. And if they’re interested in learning the facts, we’re eager to teach.

S-R: If they anglicize the brand’s name, do you correct them?

Maher: Yes. Just the other day, a client mispronounced it Porshhh – one syllable – and I politely told her the brand is pronounced POR-sha.

S-R: How has technology changed the role of the car salesman?

Maher: Social media allows us to reach a much broader audience. The internet also makes it much easier for owners to sell their cars rather than trade them in. But for a lot of our clients, it’s a question of time verses money. Many of them would rather trade in their used cars and get the tax credit rather than put an ad on Craigslist and then have to meet some stranger in a parking lot.

S-R: Where are your nearest retail competitors?

Maher: Bellingham and Tacoma.

S-R: Do you get any West Side customers?

Maher: Yes, for two reasons: our cheaper sales tax and the fact that clients can actually drive their car after they buy it instead of leaving the dealership and sitting in traffic.

S-R: What’s your busiest time of year?

Maher: Summer is always strong. But thanks to the introduction of more SUVs, winter sales have picked up. Last winter was our best ever.

S-R: Which Porsche is most popular in this market?

Maher: The Macan, a little all-wheel-drive SUV that starts at $55,000.

S-R: Is there wiggle room on the price one pays for a new Porsche?

Maher: We like to work with clients, but on certain cars there’s no negotiating simply because of supply and demand. Porsche doesn’t even offer discounts to employees.

S-R: How would you describe your typical clients?

Maher: Very polite. Knows what they want. And they come from all walks of life – blue-collar to company CEOs.

S-R: Is their car part of their identity?

Maher: Sure. It’s part of mine, too. My Instagram page has 3,000 followers just on my 2008 Audi RS4. It’s one of only four in the U.S. painted ibis white with titanium trim. I also have Instagram pages for my other two Audis.

S-R: How many Porsches do you own?

Maher: Zero. My problem is the model I want costs $300,000.

Writer Michael Guilfoil can be contacted at mguilfoil@comcast.net.

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