MidAtlantic Independent Automotive Dealers Association (IADA) recently named Robert Bassam’s company Easterns Automotive Group the 2019 Maryland Quality Dealer of the Year. This is such a prestigious honor! Many don’t know that Easterns started as just an idea Bassam had as a young man. He literally started from the bottom and worked his way up to where he is now with over 300 employees across 7 dealerships in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Easterns is truly light years ahead of the car dealer competition due to the innovation at their corporate facility in Sterling, VA. Every day staff works to turnaround between 30-40 vehicles that are ready for sale. Employees at Easterns really work together as a team despite the department that they work in. They understand that the goal is to sell high quality vehicles.
Throughout the years, Easterns went through several changes due to the economy. In 2008, Easterns had 17 locations across the area and Bassam decided it was best to downsize. The goal was to have less dealerships but convert the remaining small dealerships into larger super centers in the right locations to command customers. The internet also played a huge role in the growth of Easterns. Easterns.com has over 1,000 vehicles that are available to all customers despite the specific location. For example, if a customer likes a vehicle at the Laurel, MD store but their nearest store is Temple Hills, MD Easterns staff will have the vehicle transferred free of cost. After their purchase, customers are able to leave reviews online based on their Easterns car buying experience. This also helps potential customers when deciding on a dealer because they will see that Easterns has a 4.9 out of 5 rating and specializes in providing excellent customer service.
Many know Easterns from the early 2000 jingle commercials that have featured players from the Washington Redskins, Washington Wizards, and Baltimore Ravens. These commercials still garner attention on social media and still often go viral to this day. However, Easterns has another audience that is familiar with their philanthropy in the community. Easterns works with both Fox 5 DC and WUSA 9 on segments that are geared to helping individuals or organizations in need. Recently, Easterns stepped up to the plate to donate $10,000 a week to two Loudoun County food banks until the end of the government shutdown. The shutdown left hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed without pay. Bassam always does his best to make sure Easterns is present in the community that has supported his brand for over 30 years.
For years, Easterns Automotive Group (Eastern Motors) has been a generous organization that loves giving back to others and helping the people of the DC, Maryland, and Virginia community. Eastern Motors, founded by Robert Bassam, recently teamed up to donate $1,250 and sponsor The Evergreen Hammers Youth Football Association (EHYFA) for their 2018 football season. The Dulles Patriots and the Loudoun Lions merged together to form the Evergreen Hammers. They are providing a unique experience to passionate youth who love the game of football. The Evergreen Hammers are a part of the Virginia America Youth Football Alliance (VAYFA) that includes Loudoun, Prince William, Fairfax, Alexandria, Fauquier, Spotsylvania, and Stafford Counties. On a national level, the Evergreen Hammers compete under American Youth Football (AYF) who is the largest youth football organization in the world.
If you are a fan of football, you can watch the Evergreen Hammers showcasing their skills at the Evergreen Sportsplex just outside of Leesburg, VA. Please click here if you would like to learn more about the team, see their schedule, or find out registration information if you have a child interested in playing.
Robert Bassam founded Easterns Automotive Group and serves as its chief executive officer (CEO). Based in Washington, D.C., Easterns features six used-car dealerships and is operated through a Sterling, Virginia-based centralized corporate facility. In 1986, Bassam relocated to the D.C. region from Miami, Florida, to serve as a Mexican restaurant waiter. However, his passion to break into the business of car sales was born when he visited the Salvation Army. It was there that he purchased two cars for $50 apiece using his tip money. He then sold the cars to his co-workers for a whopping $300.
After Bassam and a co-worker pooled their money, Bassam was able to purchase 20 additional cars, and he never turned back. In 1988, he established Easterns during a short time period in which he was involved in car wholesaling. When potential buyers started to shop Bassam’s wholesale storage lot in search of high-quality used cars, Bassam’s first commercial dealership started in the area of Arlington, Virginia. Bassam realized that other area dealerships had rejected many car seekers, and because he felt that the subprime auto loan market was mistreated and undeserved, he made his “Eastern Motors” brand the premier place for buyers to enjoy second-chance credit. He used the slogan of “Where your job is your credit” and was soon able to add stores to his operation.
The dealership began to quickly book more than 100 deals per month with CAC. Bassam eventually expanded his spread of lenders and ended up having dozens of banking institutions working with him. After signing up with the institution Capital One Auto Finance back in 2003, Bassam used Capital One Auto Finance as Easterns’s No. 1 finance source. The group now operates with more than 30 lenders, who include those typically not available to non-franchises: for instance, AmeriCredit, Ally, TD Bank, and Wells Fargo. In addition, Bassam holds positions on the national dealer advisory boards of Kar Auction Services, Capital One Auto Finance, and Cox Automotive.
Easterns has experienced constant growth since this brand was first established. During the past four years, brand new efficiencies and innovations in the group’s structure have enabled it to provide even more competitive pricing and still maintain robust gross levels. Bassam’s philosophy as Easterns’s CEO is to do things “better, faster, and cheaper” through centralizing operations as well handling business in house. Easterns currently operates the group’s corporate and central reconditioning facility located in Sterling, Virginia; it is a massive operation that takes place in a single warehouse spanning 90,000 square feet. All automobiles are bought and totally reconditioned here. In addition, all legal work, corporate accounting, marketing, customer care, tag and title, and human resource work is handled in this facility. The company furthermore operates a website along with an internet sales department, or business development center, that is centralized and makes all of the group’s 1,000 automobiles available to all customers anywhere. This department handles all outgoing and incoming communication with the group’s customers as well.
Bassam remains extremely passionate about motor vehicles; in fact, this car enthusiast’s constantly growing car collection is kept in the exact same park as his group’s headquarters. You can take a peek at Bassam’s collection here: Robert's Garage