'World's Greatest' Car Salesman Refuses to Relinquish Title Without Proof
For over four decades, Joe Girard has held the Guinness World Record for the most automotive sales in a single year. The 89-year-old retiree is so proud of his achievement that his own website proclaims him as the greatest retail salesman in history while simultaneously urging you to purchase his sales training books, DVDs, and audio CDs. However, he appears to have been trumped by a Cadillac and Chevrolet salesman from Dearborn, Michigan.
Girard is having none of that and has decided to challenge the validity of the new record. “This guy claims he beat my record of 1,425 new cars that I sold in 1973,” he stated. “What I did immediately, I called my attorney.”
According to the Detroit Free Press, 44-year-old Ali Reda sold 1,530 new vehicles and 52 used vehicles in 2017 — more than enough to beat Girard’s record
“It’s very official, trust me,” said Gary Stanford, whose father founded the dealership. “Ali is the hardest worker I’ve ever seen. And if someone doesn’t believe the data, well, they’re more than welcome to consult with GM. It’s all there in black and white.”
Reda appears to have the utmost respect for Girard and even attributed some of his methods to helping him break the record. “I read his book, ‘How to Sell Anything to Anybody,’ and it said it would teach you how to become the best,” he explained. “He’s an absolute legend in the industry. Your whole career, you’re chasing his name. So now his reaction, well, it’s kind of a gut shot.”
“I mean, I would be honored to shake his hand,” Reda continued. “Joe Girard is a big figure in our industry. His accomplishments don’t diminish my work. He set the pace for me. He gave me a goal.”
Unfortunately for Reda, Girard remains convinced that shenanigans are afoot. He said he has already spoken with two lawyers, had his wife call the dealership and challenge the claims, and ultimately intends to go to the dealership himself and demand to see physical proof of the sales record.
“If somebody beat my record, honestly, I would be proud of that person,” Girard told the Free Press. “My attorney is going to get a court order to go into that dealership and have him audited … We want to know if the company’s giving numbers they shouldn’t. If they did, they will be sued beyond their wildest dreams. The dealership knows the numbers. They better be careful, according to my attorneys. We’ll make sure no games are played or we’re going to get that dealer big time.”
Girard’s response has surprised GM officials and owners of dealership. They invited Girard and his wife to attend an awards breakfast at the Motor City Casino on last month to honor Reda’s accomplishment. The couple declined to attend. It could have been worse because, despite being a legendary salesman, he doesn’t appear to be a particularly forgiving person.
From the Detroit Free Press:
Girard doesn’t let go easily. The 2011 Automotive News article said he never forgave a boss who fired him. He mailed a copy of his W-2 annual earnings statement to his old boss with a note at the bottom telling him, “You fired the wrong guy.” After the boss died, the article said, Girard took a W-2 to the cemetery and buried it atop the man’s casket.
While irrefutably awesome, this tale of revenge doesn’t paint the man as a particularly sensitive human being. Conversely, Reda’s colleagues and customers have described him as uniquely gracious, helpful, and humble. They claim he has requested that some customers save their money and return in a year or two when their financials are in better shape, and has occasionally referred business to competitors whose vehicles better fit a customer’s lifestyle.
As that doesn’t sound like the best way to break a sales record, we suspect the truth on both men lies somewhere in the middle of what’s being portrayed. However, it is far more exciting to imagine two completely opposite forces at odds with one another. Making Reda into an overly sympathetic individual while crafting Girard into a pathological monster makes for good reading. We’re kind of hoping this whole thing spins wildly out of control and ultimately becomes a hilarious independent film or touching documentary.
In the meantime, Girard’s wife says he’s still waiting on the proof and refused a follow-up interview with the Detroit publication. “Are you kidding, after Joe was nice enough to talk to you and told you there should be an audit done, you still wrote a story without doing your checking first,” Kitty Girard wrote in a letter. “People are taking it the wrong way. Like I told you, we would be the first to congratulate him after these sales have been substantiated by an auditing firm!”
Meanwhile, Reda’s 2017 sales have been officially submitted to Guinness World Records for approval. Guinness, which is based in England, confirmed an assessment of the record has begun.
“That’s huge. That’s a head-shaker. It’s like the number is wrong, but it’s not,” said Terry Burns, executive director of the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association. “He sells more cars than probably the average dealer in the state, and he does it himself.”
A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.
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