Mark Levy knows cars.
For 46 of his 66 years he has bought and sold what he estimates around 30,000 of them.
"I can ride in any car and tell you what is wrong with it. I just can't fix it," Levy said, smiling.
Levy had his own used car lot for 30 years but doesn't work at one now.
However, he is still very much involved in buying and selling.
Levy works as an auto broker in Columbus. His company is Mark Levy Auto Center.
He said if you are looking for a special car, he'll use his contacts across the country to find it.
If you want to buy a car but don't want to spend time at a car lot, he'll go and do the negotiating. No hassle. No pressure.
If you want to sell your car, he'll tell you what needs to be done to get the best price. If you want, he will find a buyer and negotiate the deal.
"Whether a person is buying or selling I'm going to work hard to get them the best possible deal," Levy said.
Levy said it is difficult to go to a lot and find a car with everything you want.
"I can do the searching," he said.
He said he enjoys this role more than when he owned his own inventory.
"I am doing what I love and I don't have the headaches that come with owning a lot," he said.
Levy's family has been in Columbus since the early 1900s. His uncle was Juvenile Court Judge Aaron Cohn, who died in 2012.
A Columbus High graduate, Levy attended the University of Georgia for a year.
"I got married and needed a job," he said.
He went to work at a car lot owned by his brother Charles Levy. In 1975, he went out on his own.
After selling his lot, Levy worked as general manager at Bill Heard Cadillac.
"I decided I wanted to be back on my own," he said of starting his current business.
Levy currently drives a Toyota Solaris convertible.
You sound like you get a lot of satisfaction out of doing this work.
I do. This way I can find people everything they are looking for in a car. No matter how many cars I had on my lot, that is something I couldn't always do. For a small fee, I can find a good car and real savings for people.
There is a free service you offer.
If you are thinking of selling a car, I will do a free appraisal. I do that for anybody.
Why not own another lot?
I was tired of the overhead and the long hours. I wanted a small business. I felt I could serve the public better with this business.
Is the auto broker role a trend?
I think it is kind of unique role now but you will see more of it in the future.
What is a reason people would want you to show the car they are trying to sell?
Safety is an issue for some. They don't want people coming to their house. Also, I can show a car while they are at work.
What is another?
They feel a professional salesman might do a better job of getting them what they want for the car or truck.
Some people hate shopping for cars.
They don't like the haggling and all that goes with buying a car. Even if they know what they want, they end up spending hours at the lot. They don't like to negotiate. It's easier to let me do it.
You've told me that wealthy people use your services.
Even people with a lot of money want a good deal and it is kind of hard for them to walk onto a car lot and say they can't afford what is being asked. Also, executives often don't have the time to spend buying a car.
You say the average buyer is at a disadvantage at a car lot.
How many cars does the average person buy? They don't stand a chance against professional salespeople who do this all the time. Those salesmen are among the best in the world.
There is another reason they are at a disadvantage.
Some people buy cars on emotion. They love the feel, the smell. It is easy to pay too much when that emotion gets involved, when the seller knows how much you want that car. Still, some people just have to get in the car before they buy it.
You do all the work with the buying and selling of a car.
I take all the calls and discuss the particulars. I have worked with people all around the country.
You enjoy this work, don't you?
I have always gotten satisfaction out of someone saying "that's the best car I have ever bought."
Have you had a chance to own a new car franchise?
I had two different opportunities but the car makers have too much control. Financially, it was
probably not the best thing for me to do.
How do people know you are going to deliver a good car?
I always get a CARFAX that gives me a history of the car.
I get cars that have been carefully inspected and have mechanics whom I trust inspect them, as well. I can tell if it has been in an accident or a flood.
What is the biggest mistake someone who is trying to sell a car makes?
They really don't know how to market the car.
They also don't do little things it takes to make their car appealing. Some people try to sell a car where the engine light comes on when you start the engine. Who wants to buy a car where the engine light comes on?
You can find a buyer.
I have many contacts. It might be just the car someone in another state is looking for.
Do you use eBay and other Internet services?
The Internet has changed the automobile business and I have learned how to use the Internet. I use whatever is available both to sell cars and find cars for people.
You are not the only one using the Internet?
Customers are using the Internet.
Sometimes, they find the car they want and use me to go in and buy it from the dealership and sell it to them for less money.
Do dealers like working with you?
Those who know me know I'm all about getting a fair deal. I feel I have their trust.
I want to get my client the best price possible and make sure the company makes money, a decent profit, as well. It benefits dealers to get the cars off the lot.
Your life has been in used cars yet you tell people to buy new.
If you can afford a new car, get it. For one thing, there is a better warranty.
You have been successful at this business.
I have never gotten a car for someone and had it turned down.