Awards Season

Texas auto business pros named to Alignable's Local Business Person of the Year list

Two members of the auto industry in Texas have earned honors.

Photo courtesy of PA Thompson/Getty Images

Alignable.com, an online referral network for small businesses announced the results of its month-long North American search for local business leaders who have gone above and beyond to help peers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 61,000 votes were cast and 25,000 recommendations were submitted during the process.

"To see so many business owners celebrate their peers was awesome -- 60 votes landed every minute at the height of the contest," said Eric Groves, Alignable's Co-Founder and CEO. "This frenetic level of participation is a testament to the strength of the business relationships forged and reinforced over the past year."

After sorting through the results, the company recognized 2,962 business owners in the U.S. The owners of those businesses have been named their local 2021 Local Business Person Of The Year. Thousands of communities were engaged as part of the process but 10 had the most votes: Houston, Texas; Calgary, Alberta; Tucson, Arizona; San Antonio, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Toronto, Ontario; Brooklyn, New York; Edmonton, Alberta; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Winners have received badges on their Alignable profiles. According to the company, in past years, the awareness generated during and after this contest has helped drive additional connections, prospects, and new business for many winners.

We hope the popularity of this year's contest will lead to even greater awareness and business success for 2021's winners," said Alignable's Co-Founder and President Venkat Krishnamurthy. "We've already heard from some members that the surge in networking, referrals, and recommendations that occurred during 2021's contest got them off to a stronger start this year."

Two Texas companies with automotive industry affiliations are among those earning accolades. Renae Lorentz from Lorentz Automotive in Lewisville and Alex Sagcal from Sam Pack's Five Star Ford and Chevrolet in Carrollton were among the state's recognized winners. Lorentz has been in the auto repair business for over 40 years. She leads a team of automotive technicians and customer service representatives. In addition to traditional repairs, Lorentz also has muffler and transmission shops.

Alex Sagcal works in public relations at Sam Pack's Five Star Ford and Chevrolet. The company's Facebook page has over 3,300 followers and is growing the company's Instagram following.

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A new Texas-themed version of the Jeep Gladiator is on the way.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Jeep has brought the Gladiator's off-road chops to the trails of the Lone Star State. The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail is another of the the traditional of special edition vehicles for Texans who occupy the nation's largest truck market. It's the first time Jeep has offered a unique-to-Texas truck.

The new model builds on the Gladiator Sport S trim adding 17-inch Mid-Gloss Back Aluminum wheels wrapped in 32-inch mud-terrain tires, four-wheel drive, standard side steps, and the Trailer Tow Group. The Gladiator Texas Trail has a unique hood and decals that feature the year 1836 in the graphic as a nod to the year of the Texas Declaration of Independence. It also wears a black hardtop, black leather seats embossed with the Texas Trail graphic and comes equipped with the Technology Group and Convenience Group packages.

2021 Jeep Gl The vehicle is ready to be fully accessorized to the buyer's wishes.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

2021 Jeep Gl

The Texas-themed model features the buyer's choice of Jeep's new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine that's rated at 260 horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque or the tried and true 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 power plant, which achieves 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.

Jeep has badged each of the models with Trail Rated status. To achieve this status, Jeep vehicles must pass extreme off-road capability challenges.

The Gladiator Texas Trail is available in 10 colors: black, white, Snazzberry, Granite Crystal, Sarge, Nacho, Hydro Blue, Firecracker Red, Billet Silver, and Sting-Gray. Jeep recently introduced a Snazzberry-colored Wrangler.

Each Gladiator comes with the Jeep Wave customer service program, which includes three years of maintenance, 24/7 phone/online support, trip interruption/first-day loaner coverage, and VIP access to Jeep events.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Texas Trail has a starting MSRP of $40,435 (plus $1,495 destination) and is currently available at Texas dealers.

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Ford dealerships will be adding Bronco showrooms to their portfolio in the coming year.

Photo courtesy of Ford via Automotive News

Reporting by Automotive News reveals that Ford is enabling its dealership network to opt-in to build Bronco-specific showrooms. The stores are designed to be near or connected to existing Ford dealer locations, but will feature the Bronco horse logo rather than the traditional Ford Blue Oval.

Ford currently has two Bronco models: Bronco and Bronco Sport. All this for two models? Not quite. Ford is reportedly working on a Bronco-based pickup truck. Could it be Ranger Raptor-like? We'll have to wait and see.

Renderings of Bronco storefronts feature those models and vintage versions of the beloved off-roader alongside 3,800 square feet of building space that includes an outdoor fire pit and room to display three vehicles. There's also a wall that showcases Bronco merchandise including some of the over 200 accessories Ford is promising will be available for Bronco models.

Ford Bronco standalone showroom renderings

Photo courtesy of Ford via Automotive News

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The overall aesthetic is very much in line with what you'll see at your local REI. There's back-painted ceiling lining, exposed concrete, a gray stone entryway, and wood accents throughout the modern structure as well as plenty of windows that show it all off.

Dealers are able to modify the design that Ford has come up with. One dealer, in Arizona, told Automotive News that he is planning to build out a 12,000-square-foot space but hasn't included a fire pit in the plans because of the location's desert climate.

If dealerships don't opt for a separate showroom, dealerships can choose from other Ford-backed options to display the Bronco that are more traditional in nature. Andrew Frick, the head of Ford sales in the U.S. said that there are three options: a standalone showroom, an expansion of existing showrooms or displays that can be added to a showroom. All the options are available and recommended, but not required, kind of like the Sasquatch Package on the Bronco itself.

"It's an announcement to the world we're back; the Bronco is back," Tim Hovik, owner of San Tan Ford in Gilbert, Ariz., and chairman of Ford's national dealer council, told Automotive News. "It's such an iconic product that in an absolute way, we feel a Ford dealer is really adding almost an additional franchise."

Last month, Ford revealed that of its 190,000 reservations for either the two- or four-door Bronco, two-thirds of those have turned into firm orders. Deliveries of the redesigned Bronco are slated to begin in June. Early models are already making their way out onto the streets under the car of Ford employees.

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