Joey Hogh, general manager of Cadillac of New Orleans (3100 Lime St., Metairie, 504-885-3000; www.neworleanscadillac.com), says his dealership's brand is on a journey. Long a part of the American vernacular as shorthand for quality and class, Cadillac is coming into its own as a top-of-the-line contemporary automobile, he says.
"Cadillac is American luxury," Hogh says. "[Its new vehicles] are modeled more on European cars, like Mercedes-Benz. ... We're trying to push ourselves up to that level."
Hogh credits much of Cadillac's success in the last five years to the Escalade, which is now a fixture of red carpet drop points and high-end car services, and to the leadership of the company's current president. President Johan de Nysschen spent years turning Audi into one of the most sought-after European imports and brought a Continental emphasis to Cadillac.
"[Under its new leadership], the Cadillac division of General Motors (GM) has separated itself from the other GM divisions. ... [The brand offices] moved to Manhattan to be 'in with the in crowd,' so to speak," Hogh says. "The new CT6 sedan is comparable in size to the BMW 7-series and the Mercedes-Benz S-Class."
Hogh speaks as an auto industry veteran. He moved to the general manager spot at Cadillac of New Orleans last year as the most recent stop on a 36-year career in local dealerships. As a young salesman, he sold Hondas when the Japanese company was an upstart brand competing with import automakers like Toyota and Datsun.
"I always liked cars," he says. "I was intrigued by the business because I had some friends who I grew up with whose fathers were in the business; they had nice cars and nice things." This personal history, combined with an appreciation for luxury, led him to jobs like his previous position as vice president and general manager at Ray Brandt for Infiniti and Porsche. Now he operates the Cadillac of New Orleans dealership for an out-of-state owner.
When describing the 40-year-old dealership, Hogh touts the client-centric atmosphere. This dealership sells new and used Cadillacs. The sales team has more than 100 years of Cadillac sales experience between them, with two reps who each have been in the Cadillac business for 20 years. The dealership is open six days a week and owns a fleet of 40 new loaner Cadillacs for clients to use while their cars are in for repairs or maintenance. Fresh fruit and pastries from Chez Pierre French Bakery always are available in the waiting area, along with a gourmet coffee bar. The dealership's collision center services all makes and models.
In early spring, Hogh anticipates the arrival of the aforementioned CT6 sedan and the new XT5 crossover SUV. With revamped body styles and amenities like rear-facing mirror cameras, both models are indicative of the automaker's shifting tide during the last decade.
"It's a different ballgame than it was once before," Hogh says. "I just saw a tremendous upside in Cadillac. They are re-emerging as America's premier luxury brand."