|Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny
Dulles Motor Cars in Leesburg is owned by Saghafi brothers Kevin, left, CEO, and Hamid, right, President. Kevin’s daughter Nadia, center, is the Director of Operations.|
Cars are just in the Saghafi blood.
At the age of 12, Nadia Saghafi changed the tire on her friend's mother's car.
In high school, while most teenage girls were asking their friends about their dates' mannerisms, Nadia always inquired about what type of car they drove.
Nadia Saghafi grew up around cars because her father, Kevin, and uncle, Hamid, are the co-owners of one of the most successful dealerships in the area, Dulles Motorcars.
Since they bought the dealership, Kevin Saghafi, who serves as CEO, and Hamid Saghafi, who is the president, made a promise to treat every customer like a family member and that promise has led to overwhelming success.
Now, Dulles Motorcars employs five other members of the Saghafi family in addition to Kevin and Hamid.
Nadia Saghafi is now the director of operations, while her brother, Bobby Saghafi, is the wholesale director. Kevin's other son also works there.
“It gives us more strength and the sanity of us being together allows for a trust factor. We work hard to take care of each other and our customers, which ultimately the public benefits from,” Kevin Saghafi said. “We live in this town. We are not a company that is organized by somebody else outside of this area. I see my customers all over the area, in movie theaters, grocery stores and restaurants.”
From revolution to business
After immigrating to the United States from revolution-torn Iran, Kevin in 1976 and Hamid in 1978, the brothers graduated from college in Georgia.
The love of automobiles first got into the brothers' blood when, for extra income, they would pick up cars, refurbish and sell them.
Soon after graduating, they started a partnership and purchased a used car lot in Greenbelt, Md. before moving the dealership to Arlington, where they sold high-end vehicles like Mercedes and BMWs.
In 1990, they purchased the business on Catoctin Circle, which at the time was a Subaru-Kia-Jeep-Eagle dealership.
“Back 20-some years ago, there wasn't much in Leesburg and we were looking into the future with the growth Leesburg could have, because places like Arlington and Falls Church were getting pretty crowded,” Hamid Saghafi said. “At that time we found through our channels that this dealership was up for sale, so we negotiated a deal and it worked.”
Since they live in the community and have lived here since 1990, Kevin and Hamid Saghafi are well equipped to answer questions regarding which car best fits the terrain in this area.
“I know all the back roads here so I know what kind of services these cars need, because of where we are, what we do and the terrain of this county and its neighborhoods,” Kevin Saghafi said.
Hamid Saghafi points to Leesburg's growth and people for their 23 years of success.
“We found out over these past 23 years that people in Leesburg are different. They want service and their expectations are higher than customers in other areas,” Hamid Saghafi said. “Leesburg is growing, but still is a small community and word-of-mouth is important. If you have one unhappy customer, they are going to tell five other people and that will haunt you and we learned that a long time ago. That is why our doors are always open, we have an open dialogue with our customers and if we immediately hear a concern we try to fix it.”
'Earning your wings'
Kevin Saghafi understands the meaning of having his children by his side as he makes a positive impact on his community.
“It truly is a blessing to have them here and it's a blessing that it is their choice, not my choice. I would love for them to be doing this, but I don't want them doing it because I want them to do it. I want them to do it because they want to do it,” Kevin Saghafi said. “They have a passion for cars and I enjoy seeing them here and seeing them happy.”
While some might think working for your father might be easy, Nadia Saghafi is quick to point out it is exactly the opposite in her family.
“I was born into this business and it's not that I didn't have a choice it's just that I didn't see anything that was this much fun,” Nadia Saghafi said. “They are the hardest bosses I have ever had in my life, so it is not exactly what everyone thinks. To watch them and everything they have gone through and everything they have learned, it is kind of combining old world with new world.
“We want to utilize our abilities, our talents and our skill set to take this to the next level, not for me, but for their legacy,” Nadia Saghafi said.
Nothing was handed to Nadia and Bobby as both Saghafi children had to earn their current titles.
Nadia Saghafi started at the dealership as an assistant for her father and uncle and then went to Koons and spent time learning how other companies are run. Following her time at Koons, she went to get her master's degree and worked part-time at the dealership. Once she received her degree, she came back as a full-time employee and has been there for almost two years.
Bobby Saghafi started out in the service department for six to eight months before moving into his current position.
“They all start out in the same type or part of the business so they can get a good feeling of the business,” Hamid Saghafi said. “I have brought two of my children who are currently in college to the dealership to work at the bottom.
“You have to earn your wings and start from scratch and earn it. It's not handed down,” Kevin Saghafi echoed.