By Jerri Stroud, BBB Editor
In many ways, the history of the Mungenast Automotive Family is the history of Japanese auto and motorcycle sales in St. Louis. The family had the area’s first Honda motorcycle shop, the first Toyota dealership, the first Honda franchise, the first St. Louis Acura dealer and the first Lexus dealership, which was one of the earliest in the United States.
Much of the credit for pioneering Japanese motor vehicles here begins with the late Dave Mungenast Sr., who had been managing another motorcycle dealer when he managed to get the Honda motorcycle franchise in 1965. Less than a year later, he got one of the first Toyota dealerships after meeting Toyota executives at a car show in Japan the previous winter.
From the beginning, Mungenast didn’t want to be like the average car dealer, said Don Levin, a 49-year employee who knew the elder Mungenast well. He wanted to take good care of customers and employees, too, Levin said.
Mungenast has won two TORCH awards previously for the St. Louis Honda dealership. This year, the family-owned business applied for and received the award for all of their stores. The business is owned by Dave Mungenast Sr.’s widow, Barbara, and their sons, Dave, Kurt and Ray Mungenast.
“We basically don’t tell anyone that’s the way it is,” Levin said. “We try to put ourselves in the soul of the customer. If something hasn’t lived up to expectations, how do we fix it?”
Employees learn that they can go to a manager and ask if something can be fixed to keep customers happy. Managers are empowered to make those decisions, and that culture is reinforced by members of the Mungenast family, who frequently drop by the dealerships.
Each of the dealerships operates a little differently, but at the core is a focus on customer care, said Don Huber, director of operations. The company contacts 1,500 to 1,900 people a week by phone or email to make sure they were satisfied with the service they received at a dealership.
“We put a very high priority on getting it fixed the first time correctly so you don’t have to come back,” Huber said.
Mungenast’s 550 employees are viewed as the company’s most important asset, Huber said. The company is known for promoting from within, and employees like that.
“We empower them to do what’s necessary to take care of the customer,” Huber said.
Mungenast has a company-wide picnic every year, and all the stores do monthly luncheons for employees. Employees can earn two spots on a company trip if they meet a certain level for their job function or they can earn chances in a drawing for referring someone who buys a car. Last year, 80 employees went on company trips.
The Mungenast Automotive Family supports a number of charitable organizations, including the St. Louis Area Foodbank, KlaasKids, Easter Seals, Friends of Kids With Cancer, the Make A Wish Foundation, the Dave and Barbara Mungenast Foundation and many more.
Mungenast Automotive Family, P.O. Box 220s, St. Louis, Mo. 63126
President: Barbara Mungenast
Mungenast Automotive Family Vision: To treat the community, our families and each other with respect and integrity to achieve the highest levels of service and products. We will be positive, build relationships and cultivate the vest talent and the best philosophies. We will be accountable for our practices and will take action to measure and constantly improve who we are and how we perform.
BBB prepares profiles of BBB Accredited Businesses and BBB Accredited Charities as part of its TORCH Awards process. Mungenast Automotive Family is a winner of the BBB St. Louis 2016 TORCH Awards.