RE: Tom Hartley: PH Meets

RE: Tom Hartley: PH Meets

Thursday 16th May

Tom Hartley: PH Meets

We meet the father and son team behind one of the world's most prominent supercar dealerships



What does it take to grow a bungalow into a supercar dealership? A multi-million pound one with a man-made lake and a customer base that reaches around the world?

 “Confidence,” according to Tom Hartley, founder of the Derbyshire-based firm that bears his name. “And a workaholic mentality that doesn’t stop for 47 years.”

You’ll likely have heard of Tom, who sold his first car at the age of 12 and now co-owns his business with 30-year-old son, Carl. That business is selling cars – extremely expensive ones, extremely successfully, and from a 40-acre site which once hosted nothing more impressive than his parents’ house. At 58, he’s as fired up as ever.


“In this game, you can never stop, you always have to keep one step ahead,” he says as we sit in the freshly-finished and glass-walled meeting room on the first floor of Hartley’s brand new three-storey showroom. “We cannot let our rivals keep up, Tom Hartley has to be the place people want to buy their supercars from, not just a place they can. That’s why we expanded with this building and that’s why we created the lake – which had not been done at a car dealership in the UK and probably Europe before us.”

Ah yes, the lake. Perhaps the best-known feature of Tom’s dealership, and the backdrop for thousands of classified ads – including those on PH – it is regarded internally as evidence of the firm’s determination to not ever rest on its laurels.

“I thought it was a bad idea,” laughs Carl during our conversation in his office, also glass-walled and located in the showroom downstairs next to the Bugatti Veyron he bought at the age of 27 – 16 years after first working with his dad. “He called me at 6am saying he was going to build a lake and I just told him to go back to sleep. When I came in later that morning, the diggers were already working away! But my dad’s like that, he wasn’t happy with us taking the same showroom pictures as our rivals. So we got the lake. Now eight out of every ten customers asks us for the pictures of their car on the lake; it’s become that much of a centre-piece.”


While the lake is custom-built for garnering attention online, it’s the new showroom which underlines the extent of Hartley’s long-term ambitions. With Carl now “doing the driving” while Tom “changes the gears” - as Hartley senior puts it - the business is being reinvented to cater to what is evidently the most dramatic shift in car buying habits yet seen.

These days, Tom Hartley can post images of a car on Instagram, receive a few direct messages from a wealthy client abroad, who then simply wires money over and arranges for the car to be collected. As Carl puts it, “the vast majority of customers don’t test drive the cars because they trust in our standard so much”. But not all buyers are the same: encouragingly, many still want to see their prospective six- or seven-figure purchase for themselves.

It is primarily for this clientele that Tom Hartley has created the new facility, which takes an already impressive location and turns the dial all the way up to Columbian drug lord hideout. It’s little wonder Tom’s site has been light-heartedly compared to the compound seen in the Godfather: behind the scenes there is a 24-person-strong team of gardeners and cleaners to keep the place immaculate. Front of shop there’s a LaFerrari, a Porsche 918 Spyder and McLaren 720S – but the underlying aim is no different to the aspiration of any forward-thinking luxury dealer: to make the process of viewing and buying a car from Tom Hartley seem friendlier and more personal.


“We really value the customer experience,” explains Tom. “We don’t judge people like some more traditional dealerships do. You can book an appointment and walk in wearing whatever you like, you’re never judged,” he adds, referencing the stories of some customers who were turned away from rival companies because they didn’t fit the bill. “Carl and I make an effort to meet every single one of our customers, so they become much more than buyers; we’re friends with lots of them,” Tom adds, before pointing out the bar and bottles of alcohol that are located to the rear of the showroom.

The site itself is impressive not just for the value of the cars contained within, but also the way in which they’re laid out. The old showroom – a single floor site with around a dozen cars inside about 50 feet away – is now dwarfed by the grandeur of the new building.

From top to bottom it goes like this: on the first floor there’s a wide balcony, which during our visit has a 720S and Huracan parked on it, while inside is a collection of Ferraris including a stunning white 360 Challenge Stradale, 308 GTS and 575 Superamerica, to name just a few. On the ground floor, there’s the collection of hypercars including the 918, a Carrera GT and that LaFerrari, as well as Carl’s Veyron beside two more. Oh, and there’s a Huracan Performante Spyder and a Ducati 1299 Panigale R Final Edition that Carl bought because “it’s beautiful” and recently sold over the phone.


But it’s the basement that really sets the new Tom Hartley building apart. You’re aware of the level’s existence from above because of the glass floor underneath the LaFerrari, which, when viewed from the basement, provides a clear view of the car’s underside without the need for a ramp or the buyer getting their knees dirty. Carl also has a glass floor in part of his office, so he can peak through and see the Aventador, Noble M600 and Rolls-Royce Dawn, which sit among many more cars underground. They got there via a state-of-the-art car lift, an Italian piece of engineering that Carl says has received “almost as much attention” as the cars themselves. It’s all about reminding buyers that no corners have been cut in the fast-growing of the business – and, the owners believe, underscores the lengths they go to when sourcing cars.

“The Tom Hartley brand name has been valued at £250 million alone,” says Tom, “but I would never dream of selling it. It’s not about the money anymore, it’s about the reputation, the credibility; if we sold the name that would be put into jeopardy,” Tom explains. With Carl essentially running the business with his backing, it’s about ensuring that it thrives as a family-run enterprise for future generations.

That job is not yet complete. Continued independence requires investment and far-sighted ambition. Not to mention a tendency toward workaholism - and quite a lot of confidence. “Ideally, I want to be forced to build another showroom in two years because of demand,” smiles Carl. Looks like we’ll be seeing a lot more of that lake...













For more of Tom Hartley's stock, click here

Author
Discussion

belleair302

Original Poster:

6,054 posts

148 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
I know nothing of their business but from a design point of view this new showroom lacks warmth, personality and feel. Looks like hey copied a McLaren monochrome design from fifteen years ago. More car supermarket that boutique designer elegance. Just my thoughts however. The writing is more promotional article than journalistic appraisal.

AvantAdam

7 posts

48 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
Not sure I am as impressed by the Lake pictures as I should be. I had thought the pictures were taken in a big puddle...

Never will I understand marketing.

They do have some beautiful cars. Good luck to them


Reark

69 posts

29 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
Right where is this showroom? Time to test their 'no judgement' claim....

easytiger123

1,695 posts

150 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
The lake pictures look great when it's completely windless and still but look much less impressive when there's a wind rippling the surface.

They always have some great cars. Never bought from or sold to them as they're not in my neck of the woods but wouldn't hesitate to if they had something I wanted when I wanted it. Their pricing seems competitive, they pay cash, move a lot of stock. Don't see any issues really.

Rostyle

7 posts

16 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
So where does Tom Hartley Jr fit in exactly , no mention of him anywhere ?
Advertisement

Arsecati

193 posts

58 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
Most ridiculous promo pictures on the internet in my opinion: plonk a car in the middle of a puddle and take a picture of its reflection? Just because it's 'different', doesn't make it good! But I'm poor, so what the hell would I know?

Pork

9,448 posts

175 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
"TH" loves self promotion and this article reads like something he's written himself, only with better spelling.

Like him or loath him, as it seems poeple are quite polarised, you can't deny he gets some cracking stock and clearly knows how to turn a quid.

Good luck to them both, they're doing something right.

Dave350

194 posts

59 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
belleair302 said:
I know nothing of their business but from a design point of view this new showroom lacks warmth, personality and feel. Looks like hey copied a McLaren monochrome design from fifteen years ago. More car supermarket that boutique designer elegance. Just my thoughts however. The writing is more promotional article than journalistic appraisal.
I saw Carl Hartleys posts on Instagram about the new dealership and thoght the exact same.

Nothing about the dealership screams premium other than the cars inside it. It looks empty, poor design, bare and like you say, lacks any form of warmth. The outer gardens etc are beautiful, but inside the dealership is very poor, appears they forgot to appoint a good interior designer. Even the upper end of high st cars now, e.g. Mercedes and BMW have dealerships, or sections of their dealerships for their upper end cars with a more premium feel to this.

LaurasOtherHalf

14,813 posts

137 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
Build ‘em up to knock ‘em down...

These promotional puff pieces never go down well in the forums, and although success always divides opinion (and this pair always divide opinion) I can’t help but be impressed by what they’ve achieved.

They obviously love what they do, love the cars and have built a hugely successful business around it.

Well done to them, I say.

Butter Face

18,432 posts

101 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
Rostyle said:
So where does Tom Hartley Jr fit in exactly , no mention of him anywhere ?
He had his own business, Tom Hartley Jr, which is a completely separate business, on the same site, about 400m away. So completely separate hehe

They’ve a hell of a business though, I think I could deal with selling those cars all day. I did laugh a little at the ‘its not about the money anymore’ line, sure, sure hehe

harleywilma

390 posts

184 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
Great way to drum up a bit of business when things are slow, Not sure about the large puddle or flood scenes though...

HoHoHo

13,672 posts

191 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
The water photos are ste and pretentious and the showroom dull and boring, shame because the cars are great I’m sure.

Buster73

3,219 posts

94 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
The Tom Hartley brand valued at £250m ?

Just sprayed some cornflakes over my iPad laughing.


andyleeds

553 posts

160 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
as above.... who ever wrote that either doesn't know how you value a business or doesn't understand what they've said.... lol

estate agents for cars, nothing wrong with that..... but that's it....... nothing more, nothing less

Triumph Man

5,764 posts

109 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
Putting aside tastes, and the lake, I always have admiration for somebody who builds themselves, and their business, up like that from basically nothing.

easytiger123

1,695 posts

150 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
Buster73 said:
The Tom Hartley brand valued at £250m ?

Just sprayed some cornflakes over my iPad laughing.
Agreed. That bit was utter nonsense. That would be 10 times turnover and 100 times PBT for a non-tech business. It's a good business but that number is fantasy.

MrC986

2,297 posts

132 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
Triumph Man said:
Putting aside tastes, and the lake, I always have admiration for somebody who builds themselves, and their business, up like that from basically nothing.
^ this is very true and their business empire is more than the car business these days. I'm sure there is some slight embellishment of the scale of some parts of their business though they've done it their way and they're successful. They live on-site and hence they truly do offer 7 day a week accessibility and their location isn't where you'd necessarily expect it to be btw. I know there are a few PHers who've bought and sold cars (including a McLaren P1 and F1) through them if you read some of the forum posts and from what I've heard (from a friend whose dealt with them) they offer a no-nonsense way of buying top end cars.

janesmith1950

2,821 posts

36 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
Buster73 said:
The Tom Hartley brand valued at £250m ?

Just sprayed some cornflakes over my iPad laughing.
Maybe it's for both Tom Hartley's? Or maybe the combined value of all Tom Hartley's worldwide?

Or maybe more imaginative than a shelf full of Roald Dahl?

NicoG

497 posts

149 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION POUNDS?

roflroflroflroflroflroflrofl



Edited by NicoG on Thursday 16th May 08:37

hammo19

1,952 posts

137 months

Thursday 16th May
quotequote all
Time to move over and let the “youngster” have a go at bringing the showroom into the present.