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New Mercedes-Benz dealer is luxury car fan

Matt Burkholder likes luxury cars, Mercedes-Benz in particular. He also finds Southern Oregon to his liking.

The 45-year-old Texan assumed control of the Medford Mercedes-Benz franchise last month after acquiring the dealership from fellow Texans Ron Heller, Bill Bird and Bob Crow.

“I love luxury cars,” Burkholder said. “That’s what I prefer.”

Unlike his predecessors operating the Medford Mercedes-Benz franchise, including NFL Hall-of-Famer Ronnie Lott, Burkholder is all-in when it comes to the Rogue Valley. He moved his family here this summer and his two teenagers are enrolled at Ashland High School.

“I came here pursuing the brand and I fell in love with the community,” he said.”It was very easy to make the 2,000-mile move. My wife and family came here a number of times prior to the closing on the deal. The community, people and the environment really made it a very easy sell; you can imagine the stress of whether two high school kids would like it or not.”

Burkholder studied political science at Southern Methodist University in Dallas before finding his niche in upscale cars in the 1990s. He worked for Park Place Motorcars, which sells Mercedes, Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles in San Antonio. For the past decade, he’s been a part owner at Barrett Motor Cars, also in San Antonio, selling Jaguar, Maserati and Ferrari lines.

He began working on the deal last November, making a couple of visits north beginning in February. The dealership also sells Smart cars and Sprinter, a commercial van line.

“My theme is reintroducing Mercedes-Benz to the Rogue Valley,” Burkholder said. “There is not another brand that is more iconic than Mercedes-Benz has been in design, technology and safety. Sometimes, people are apprehensive when they come into dealerships because they think Mercedes-Benz are expensive, but at $30,000 and up, you can satisfy a lot of people.”

He noted BMW does very well in Southern Oregon and thinks that underscores the potential when a franchise has a hands-on owner.

“There are 350 automobile markets and Mercedes-Benz thought this was a good one,” Burkholder said. “When BMW is selling as many cars as it does, Mercedes-Benz should do equally as well.”

Burkholder has beefed up the staff to 30, adding a sales manager, consultant and service adviser.

“I’m not just here to sell cars,” he said. “This is my family business now and I want to be part of the community.”

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.

Matt Burkholder is the new owner of Mercedes-Benz in Medford. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell