The Martens tradition began in 1904 when Grandfather L.P. Steuart and his brother started selling coal and ice from a mule-pulled cart in Washington, D.C. In 1916 Henry Ford approached Mr. Steuart to sell his very first Ford automobiles, offering him 20 black Model T’s. By 1939 the company had grown from the two founding brothers to 500 employees. The company continued to thrive during World War II by rebuilding car engines and establishing a taxi business. In 1957 “Mr. L.P.” traded 12 dozen seat covers to get the first Volvo dealership in Washington D.C.
Along the way, many achievements have been reached, and the company has received much national recognition. In 1981 Martens opened the first “stand-alone” Volvo Service and Parts Center in the United States. The business acquired a Volkswagen franchise in 1993 and opened the first “stand-alone” Volkswagen Service and Parts Center in the United States in January 2004. It is no mistake that the company’s emphasis then, as now, is service. One of Mr. LP’s most important principles was: “If we take the best possible care of our customers in the service department, they will come back and buy a new car from us.”
That family philosophy of unparalleled service continues today, one hundred years later, with four of Mr. Steuart’s grandchildren actively engaged in and managing the business. “We still believe that our success is measured by satisfied and happy customers, dedicated employees and loyal business associates. Our grandfather believed that his business was in Washington to stay, and that he would not sacrifice his permanent reputation for a quick profit. Given the volatility of business today, that belief has clearly served as our bedrock business philosophy, and has allowed us to grow and serve our community even better.”
Harry Martens, President