A Family-Oriented Business Committed to Sustainability as well as the Buffalo Community.
Mercedes-Benz of Buffalo is a family-focused business under the helm of Bob LaMastra. He credits the dealership’s 90-year success to focusing on only one line of vehicles, developing strong multi-generational customer connections, and adapting to changing times. MBB does not have a one-size-fits-all approach to sales, he says, but instead tailors business to each customer’s specific needs. This dealership has been Mercedes-Benz since 1965, making it one of the oldest MB dealers in the US.
Bob’s uncle started the dealership before World War II, converted it to a machine and screw factory to stay afloat during the war, and then converted it back to a car dealership. Bob’s father and brothers took over in 1973 and then passed the business down to Bob in 1996. Bob’s children and one of his partner’s sons currently work for the dealership in different management positions, and Bob said customers feel the family atmosphere as they enter the showroom.
The company is a big family, celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, accomplishments, and awards every month. LaMastra says his favorite part of owning this business is seeing the employees grow and develop themselves, have families of their own, and enjoy life. Brooke Arber, General Manager, agrees that the tight-knit employee base sets MBB apart from other businesses. She says, “Many of us started our careers here in introductory positions, in many cases part-time while in high school or college. As the dealership has grown and expanded, many people have stayed with us, taking on new roles and responsibilities, and today make up a core group of employees that focus every day on growing relationships built with our customers and each other.”
LaMastra says, Key to success through the years has been adapting to the changing needs of customers and economic demands. When WWII forced an economic change across the nation, MBB shifted to make military aircraft parts and so were able to maintain the business and its employees. The business transitioned from the unpopular but successful diesel line from LaMastra’s early days, and survived the Great Recession of the late 2000s, along with the pandemic. As times change, so does Mercedes-Benz of Buffalo. They are committed to serving their customers and keeping the dealership a family-focused business that will survive challenges.
Let’s Go, Buffalo!
LaMastra says Buffalo is the “biggest small town ever,” with a close-knit community in which everyone knows everyone. Every Friday during football season, staff wear Buffalo gear and bring in non-perishable donations to FeedMore WNY. They rejoice when the local hockey team and football team win, and they mourn losses.
Arber adds, “Just like the rest of our wonderful community, we are Buffalo! Most of us have spent our whole lives in Buffalo, our families live here, and we are raising our children here. Our community is important to us.” MBB focuses charitable giving on mostly local causes, such as school programs, children’s sports teams, and community outreach programs. Nationally, Mercedes-Benz has a long-standing partnership with the Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund, donating to the fund for every new Mercedes-Benz sold in the U.S.
L to R: Brooke Arber, Joe LaMastra, Paul Schiavone, Bob LaMastra, Matt Schiavone
Mercedes-Benz as a corporation is committed to dealing with the challenge of climate change by increasing sustainability, an “opportunity to keep our planet worthy of habiting and to promote social progress and prosperity,” according to Ola Kallenius, chairman of MB’s board of management.
Sustainability is not only about products, though, and Mercedes has invested $50 billion to expand green infrastructure to support the expanding electric line of vehicles. Governments, energy suppliers, and vehicle manufacturers must work together to achieve such expanded electromobility.
LaMastra says the European market is ahead of America in sustainability and green energy, but America will get there. He says, “We have to get more infrastructure in place first.”
Mercedes me Charge is one of the world’s largest charging networks and aims to continue to add additional markets and charging station operators to further expand the network. MB also increasingly uses its own systems and buildings to generate sustainable electricity from solar power.
In Ambition 2039, Mercedes-Benz committed to be 100% electric vehicle ready by the end of the decade, with company-wide carbon neutrality with all emission-free, software-driven vehicles by 2039. However, they also realize consumers need to commit to electrification for it to succeed.
Arber says, “Mercedes-Benz is a globally recognized brand and organization that wants to be a leader and innovator in sustainability just as they have been in design and engineering.” Arber admits there is much to learn about electric vehicles and there are lots of unknowns, questions, and much work still to be done to make it viable and sustainable for the entire country. But, she says, “We owe it to our children, future generations, and the earth’s inhabitants as a whole to do our best to protect it.”
Focus around Buffalo has been getting charging stations up and running. According to ChargeHub, Buffalo now has 181 level 2 and 3 public charging station ports, almost half of which are free for consumer use. Mercedes-Benz of Buffalo has two level 3 fast chargers and three level 2 dual-port chargers available to consumers at their dealership. Arber says, “Mercedes-Benz chose to use a standard charger configuration so most EV brands can use our chargers without adaptation. We are on the ChargePoint network, where EV consumers can find us through their app.”
LaMastra says people tend to be a bit resistant to change, and his experience tells him it’s going to take a bit of time for the general population to fully accept electric vehicles. He says his customers often try out electric vehicles as supplementary vehicles, dipping their toes in the EV water first. However, customers he wouldn’t have predicted would purchase fully-electric vehicles have purchased them, so he is optimistic about the EV direction.
Later this year, join the family-oriented Mercedes-Benz of Buffalo as they celebrate and showcase the electric vehicle options MB has to offer with an electric ride and drive in conjunction with celebrating their 90 year anniversary. It will be a “where we were and where we are now” sort of event, Arber says.
Q&A with Bob LaMastra and Brooke Arber
Q. What did you want to be when you were a child?
Bob: My father was a dentist, so at first I wanted to do that, but he always brought me to the dealership because he was part-owner at the time. So I would say I always had a thing for the car business.
Brooke: Secretly I still want to be an interior designer.
Q. What inspires you?
Bob: When I see young people growing and developing and starting a family, that inspires me.
Brooke: So many things. My family, my close circle of girlfriends, reading amazing stories, and looking at how artists and designers can take a blank canvas or room and turn them into something stunning.
Q. What superpower would you choose for yourself?
Bob: Being able to manipulate people’s minds to think what I think, like in Star Wars.
Brooke: Ability to remember everything.
Q. What advice would you give to yourself at age 15?
Bob: I used to have a good time – I made it harder on myself – so I would say work a little harder in school.
Brooke: It doesn’t really matter what other people think about you. I might still be telling myself that. I am hoping by 50 I will own it.
Q. What’s your favorite family recipe?
Bob: Being Italian, I make my own sauce, using my grandmother’s recipe that she brought over. I even have it still on the same paper she wrote it on 40 years ago.
Brooke: I make Welsh pasties for my father. That is his favorite and something he had as a child. For my family, I love making a pot of chili with all the fixings.
Q. What is your go to drink of choice?
Bob: I’m a big water drinker, but if I’m out to dinner, I’ll have wine, a pinot noir; if I’m entertaining, it’d be beer.
Brooke: My husband makes the best Old Fashioned!
Q. What is your favorite spot in Buffalo?
Bob: I like to go to the waterfront, have dinner and sit out.
Brooke: Home! Runner-up...Shango.
8185 Main Street,
Williamsville, NY 14221