One of your neighbors has decided to keep his new business local and take over a vacant St. James storefront with the opening of Certified HQ, a used car dealership on Middle Country Road.
The dealership is set to open Saturday.
Brian Smith, owner of the dealership and a Smithtown resident, started in the car sales industry when he was 13 years old, washing cars on the lot at his dad’s dealership Mark Motors in West Islip. After his dad retired and moved Smith looked to re-open his dealership, but ultimately decided to stay local.
“I originally had a mindset of opening his store but it was like a gas station type of facility and I went there a couple times and weighed the differences out, it had no room for expansion, it had no backyard or anything,” he said.
Not only is Smith a resident of the town but has also worked locally for almost 20 years as the Used Car Manager at Smithtown Toyota since 1994. While working at Toyota was a good work situation for Smith, he decided now was the time to open up a dealership of his own.
“I managed that facility and I basically said if I’m managing this facility and putting in the time and putting in the effort why not follow your dreams and open up my own store?” he said. “If you don’t take risks and chances in life you don’t know what you’re going to get.”
Opening not only locally has been a dream for Smith, but he also got his dream location – the former home to Autohaus, located at 873 Middle Country Road.
“I’ve been watching this facility for the last maybe 10 years, the people that have been in here and the kind of business they’ve done, and it’s always been a dream of mine to come in and open up this store and do my own thing,” he said. “As I get a little bit older time slips away and stuff like that so I don’t want to have any regrets. I had an opportunity and I took advantage of it.”
Certified, according to Smith, will feature something for everyone, including a good mix of inexpensive cars, pickup trucks, energy savers, vans, sports cars and more. The dealership will also feature anywhere from eight to 10 classic American muscle cars inside the showroom.
While cars are something Smith is very familiar with, Smith also decided to fill his staff with familiar faces as well, recruiting Lou Argerakis to his team. Argerakis, a lifelong friend to Smith that worked under him at Toyota for about seven years, is now the sales manager at Certified.
“I like the way he conducts business,” said Argerakis. “I worked under him for seven years, he gave me offer and I said I’m in.
Now a business owner and not an employee, Smith’s mission with Certified is simple.
“I’m looking to run a nice, clean dealership, make people happy, give them a new car experience in a used car facility, help them in the pocketbook, keep my promises and be honest with them,” he said.
Certified HQ is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.