For the second time in just a few years, Mark Smith found himself at a crossroads. Both times he's hit those crossroads, he's made life better.
When a training injury left him in a spot where it was time to leave a career in law enforcement, a long-time friend put him in charge of a used car dealership — Midwest Auto Exchange.
"He sent me some cars and we had more than 20 cars when we opened," Smith said. "Business was good. Things were good, but as time went on his interest in being here waned. He was keeping his Olathe store running."
Inventory numbers fell from the 20s to 12 or 13.
Just recently ownership of the exchange decided it was time to concentrate on the main dealership in Olathe, and not operate the dealership in Newton.
"It came time for us to part ways," Smith said. "We are still good buddies."
Smith became a car salesman with no cars to sell. But, filled with knowledge of how to run a dealership over the course of the past few years, he chose a new path — founding his own dealership. With the help of his top salesman and employee, Jason Reynolds, Revolution Auto will open sometime in December in the same location once operated by Midwest Auto Exchange at 1302 S. Kansas Ave.
"We wanted to make this an all local business," Smith said. "If I did not have Jason around, I do not know what I would do. On days when I have to go get cars, this place would just sit empty. That is not a good way to run a business."
The new business has a name — Revolution Auto Sales. A new logo is being created and signs ordered. Paperwork, including a new sales tax identification number and car dealership license, is being processed by the state of Kansas.
Smith said his vision is to not compete with larger dealers which offer brand new cars. He, instead, is looking to serve customers who are looking for a new "grocery getter" or "work car" — older used cars with low mileage.
"We want to hit a different niche," Smith said. "One of the things I think we may have done wrong the past six months is having much newer vehicles. ... For every one of those I have, Midway (Motors) has six, Kranz (Motors) has six or seven for every one of those I can have, same with Conklin (Cars). ... We want to be different. I don't want to take any business away from Midway, Conklin or Kranz. I am trying to give everybody every reason not to go to Wichita and not go to the buy here/pay here lots."
Every car will undergo an inspection and repair by a local auto repair shop before going up for sale.
Smith worked with Dave Smith, who owns several businesses including Newton Tire and Auto on Meridian.
"Everybody involved is of the same mindset," Mark Smith said. "We have a customer first mentality, and that will be a mantra for the business."