Bradford Coachworks: Building for Champagne Tastes

LCT Staff
Posted on November 1, 1983

During the past eight years, the father and son team of Ainslie and Douglas Dencker has sold and distributed limousines from their Boca Raton, Florida headquarters. Bradford Coachworks, has “surpassed our own expectations with an outstanding new model, which will premier in 1984.”

The 1984 Formal Limousine is built for champagne tastes, they said. Although still in production, the new limousines will be featured in upcoming automobile shows.

Ainslie Dencker, who gave 30 years of service to the Ford Motor Co., chose to enter the specialty automotive field and was a founder of Bradford. During his tenure with Ford, the elder Dencker rose from clerk to area sales manager, directly responsible for sales and marketing of over 300 dealerships in New England, as well as 300 dealerships in the Midwest.

At Bradford, he has combined his corporate and marketing skills with the intricacies of producing high quality conversions while guiding the company to its respected point in the luxury automobile market today.

Douglas, with a background of automobile retail experience, sits in the vice president’s chair at Bradford. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, he worked for a Midwestern chain of dealerships and by his 24th birthday had become one of the youngest new car sales managers in the Twin Cities area.

His credo is “If you have a new car market, a used car market must follow.” He introduced used limousine sales to Bradford, which now enjoys a brisk business in that market segment, Ainslie Dencker said.

“Development of a quality product is foremost in the minds of management. Recognizing the need for quality in the domestic market, we are determined that any product offered will be quality plus,” he said.

“A company that doesn’t improve will disappear, and Bradford plans to be alive and kicking for a long, long time. We are committed to goals bigger than profit, we want to give our customers the best product combined with the best service,” the elder Dencker said. “We set a high standard for quality, insisting upon quality sales combined with quality service. It’s a total commitment and we are prepared to service our customers by this guideline.”

Repeat sales have been found to be a mainstay in Bradford’s history, he said. “Livery operators in particular have been consistent in their choices of Bradford stretches. Whenever possible, we use Lincoln parts and components in our Lincoln conversions, which are readily available from the Lincoln-Mercury parts division. In my opinion, this makes it easy for the coach and car to be serviced at the Lincoln-mercury dealerships. That ensures the owner that he can get consistent repairs and replacement parts,” he said.

The relationship between Bradford and the dealers stems from Ainslie Dencker’s connection with franchises for many years. “I’ve encouraged this company to work closely with the dealers, basing my philosophy on the premise that the franchised dealer is better able to provide proper parts and service.”

For example, “The 302 V-8 engine used in the Lincoln is more capable of producing the power needed to motivate a Lincoln stretch. The overdrive transmission provides extra comfort and economy. This can be attested to by many owners who can verify that they have been able to get 17 miles per gallon over the highway. This you must admit is a formidable fact when driving a limousine for an extended period of time,” he said.

Discussing the Lincoln conversion on which Bradford concentrates, he said, “The 1984 model is newer and more contemporary in meeting the consumer needs by combing advanced styling with excellent engineering. This combination certainly produces the ideal vehicle for the conversion business.”

In exchange, the Lincoln-Mercury dealers who have known Ainslie Dencker over the years and have worked closely with him, respect his manner of doing business, his son said. “They are comfortable with his honestly and reliability. Mutual respect seems to be the best description of the rapport between them. The winner, of course, is the Bradford customer.”

While competition has grown during the years Ainslie Dencker has directed Bradford, he has recommended management to do business not only with the franchised dealers, but also to deal directly with livery operators. “Whichever method the customer chooses to pursue, they can be sure that they will receive individual attention from the people here at Bradford,” he said. “Customer satisfaction is uppermost.”

According to the younger Dencker, “We like to meet our customers personally. We like to shake the hand of the person who is a Bradford customer and get to know him as an individual. It is a very comfortable feeling to know that there is still a company with people who are interested in the personal touch and who are willing to meet their customer on a one-to-one basis. That, I think, tells you a lot about the people who are on the Bradford team.”

Their product line for 1984 is the result of engineering by the Phillips Design Center of Margate, Fla. The new manufacturing facility sets new standards for the industry though conformity and consistency of production, Douglas Dencker said. The new million dollar facility has over 40,000 square feet of manufacturing area and is capable of producing up to two vehicles per day, he said.

Bradford is featuring for 1984 a new look for the exterior, with newly designed doors, intended to improve access to and from the limousine, he said. “The entirely new seating plan will prove to be the piece de resistance for the discriminating buyer. This innovative design will produce comfort that has been lacking in so many other models. The privacy area of the passenger compartment has been improved sufficiently to produce the ultimate in discreet interior privacy, combined with unobstructed exterior viewing,” he said.

The standard features for the Formal are: 46-inch extended wheel base, full vinyl top, rear opera window, color keyed velour headlining, two illuminated side beverage compartments with drains and center bar console among others, the younger Dencker said.

“The improved interior design will provide molded, self-storing seating. The vis-à-vis seats can now be folded to fit into a self-strong position which transforms the interior into a spacious passenger compartment. Built-in head rests add to the amenities of this new model,” he said.

New locations for the air conditioning and heating outlets will assure passengers of complete comfort in any weather, he said.

A new console for the electronic components including television and video cassette recorder is also available, Douglas said. Optional equipment includes a power-jet spray bar, ice containers and holders for crystal decanters and glasses, he added. Armored limousines are also offered, he said.

“For customers wishing the ultimate in technological advances, Bradford is able to install a mini-computer facility,” Douglas Dencker said. He is excited about the future of limousine business, and sees the computers and electronic equipment transforming the limousine into an office on wheels. “The harried and busy executive will be able to conduct business while traveling,” he said.

For the funeral industry, Bradford offers a three-place bench seat with a self-storing feature that can transform the passenger compartment to comfortably seat six, he said.

“This quiet folding and storage of companion seats will undoubtedly become an outstanding feature of the Formal Limousine.”

“The best is yet to come in the limousine business and we are ready for it,” he said.

Related Topics: anniversary: coach builder profiles, Bradford Coachworks, coach-builder profiles, Lincoln

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