By: Anne Kaiser
Uptown Motors is a thriving family-owned dealership and has been throughout its long and successful history, steered by three generations of the Pentler family. The dealer group currently has several longstanding locations: Uptown Ford Lincoln at 2111 North Mayfair Road in Wauwatosa; Uptown Chevrolet at 1101 East Commerce Blvd. in Slinger; and Uptown Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram at 1111 East Commerce Blvd. in Slinger.
Uptown Motors originally began in 1946 when Irv Pentler and his brother Ray opened a used car lot. Irv sold the Mercury Convertible he had put away when he was in World War II and bought three used cars to start the business. The family business grew and flourished over time; the original business took its name from the Uptown neighborhood in Wauwatosa around the Center Street area. Uptown Motors has existed in its current location since 1966.
John Pentler, General Manager at Uptown Motors, is a passionate third-generation participant in his family’s thriving business. He works alongside his father, Glenn Pentler, who is “very active in the business;” John’s brother Mark works in the dealership’s Slinger locations. According to John Pentler, the family’s business has grown over the years due to “a lot of hard work, a lot of good things going on.”
Pentler indicated that as a family, he and his father and brother work to see each other’s strengths. Part of the enduring success his family business has enjoyed may come in part from this cohesive and team-based, cooperative approach to management. John Pentler views family business as “a great opportunity,” and he approaches his work knowing that he comes to his job with “a different skill set” than his brother. He views this as an asset, stating that “an appreciation and understanding” of each individual’s unique strengths “[goes] a long way.”
The Pentler family recently opened two new locations of their business in Wauwatosa: Uptown Lincoln, located at 2001 N. Mayfair Road, and a new truck service center at 1501 N. Mayfair Road. At the new Uptown Lincoln showroom, customers will find a “welcoming, lowkey atmosphere,” Pentler said, a “very calm” show room where clients can “take the [purchasing] process at [their] own pace.” The store will likely also serve many customers who are returning more frequently to select a car to lease. Pentler noted that the team at Uptown Motors will continue to “excel in taking care of people are help them find what they are looking for.” He additionally mentioned that the new Lincoln store is visible from the freeway and offers Uptown “a better space to cater to luxury clients.”
The new Uptown truck service center offers an exciting opportunity for Uptown Motors to “fill a big need in Milwaukee right now,” according to John Pentler. There, technicians will be equipped to work on bigger vehicles such as transit vans, Ford Super Duty trucks, and RVs. The Uptown Ford showroom will continue to handle sales of all Ford vehicles. Businesses who employ this larger class of service vehicle depend on keeping their fleet operational. When work needs to be done, it must be completed promptly to allow business activities to continue to flow. Pentler noted that, in addition to the exciting opportunity the truck service center will provide in filling this important community business need, it will also create a positive cycle of return. Many of the clients who bring vehicles in for service will then come back to purchase vehicles at Uptown.
Uptown Motors has successfully navigated a variety of challenges through its long history, including the 1970s fuel crisis, high interest rates in the 1980s, and the tragedies associated with September 11, 2001. John Pentler noted that recent challenges have included disruptions with supply chains and car manufacturers being shut down, which sometimes meant that Uptown might have two new cars in stock rather than the 150 cars they are accustomed to. Pentler emphasized the importance of being able to “work with the market you have” as well as his family’s special ability to “sit with clients, [to] work with them to get them what they want in the most efficient way possible.”
For the Pentler family, their exceptional client base of support serves as another asset that has helped propel Uptown Motors to its current success. “We are very fortunate to have the customers we have,” John Pentler stated. One of the ways the Pentler family has built this base of customer support through the years is by being present at their business each day and by listening to their customers’ needs. “We enjoy talking to our clients,” Pentler said. “We take pride in being able to be there in a time of need, or a time of want, for that matter.” He noted that the family enjoys visiting with their “very loyal customer base.” In some cases, several generations of a family continue to return to Uptown Motors for their varied auto needs.
For John Pentler, his combined love of people and cars has made his work ideal and fulfilling. He enjoys working with the “style, performance, and uniqueness of cars,” and finds it “fun to see a whole realm of different vehicles out there,” in his words. Through careful listening to his customers’ needs and goals, he then employs his expertise and insight in helping them to select the vehicle that will best fit their needs.
John Pentler stressed the importance of having the “ability to be patient with customers,” to “listen to [them] and offer advice on how to get the most value out of a situation.” He noted that his team at Uptown Motors excels at doing this. The care that Pentler and his family-based team have offered their customers brings him pride. Of his customers, Pentler noted, “they trust us and want to work with us.”
The Pentler family has built Uptown Motors on a foundation of unified family teamwork, a passion for people and cars, and a strong business sense. John Pentler feels excited about his exceptional base of customer support, noting that “people come in to say hi; they look at us as people they want to be around.” He envisions the new Uptown Lincoln show room and truck service center as providing opportunities to continue to “care for and cultivate relationships with current clients and their friend base,” and anticipates that his business’s “referrals [will] continue to grow.” Pentler conlcuded, “we take pride in being able to set people up to do what they want to do.”