Bethany Clough

This luxury dealership could have moved north, but it stayed downtown. Here’s why

Haron Jaguar Land Rover is moving into its newly constructed downtown building, a two-story structure encased in glass with dramatic 60-foot photos of Yosemite inside.

The new dealership was built in the same part of downtown, on Ventura Avenue near Van Ness Avenue, where it started 73 years ago. Owner and general manager Randy Haron won’t say how much the new and expanded building cost, but it’s clearly a hefty investment – both in the business and downtown.

Like other businesses, Haron Jaguar could have easily moved north. It would have fit in neatly at Palm and Herndon avenues, near the Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi dealerships.

They considered it, even put a deposit on piece of land near at that corner.

But they decided against it.

“Being that we’ve had the location in downtown and believe in downtown and finally see it blossoming – which is great because we’ve been a supporter of downtown for a long time – it just made more sense to stay down here and be different, because we are different than every other car dealer,” Haron said. “We’re unique and downtown is definitely unique.”

It’s worth noting that there’s a lot more than selling cars happening out of that building, like a commercial touting downtown that will air during the Super Bowl, and the photography business of the owner and general manager, who has 101,000 Instagram followers. More on that in a bit.

Much of the decision to stay downtown stemmed from simple practicality: The dealership is close to where highways 41, 99 and 180 intersect and that means it’s easy for customers to get there, Haron said.

“We’re literally 10 seconds off the freeway,” he said.

Plus, history matters, he said.

Haron’s grandfather started his mechanic’s business in 1945, shortening his Armenian last name from Haroothian because he said it was the only way he could get a business license. Friends asked if they could park cars they were trying to sell out front, and from then on the business became a dealership, selling brands like English Ford, MG, Triumph, Fiat and eventually, Jaguar and Land Rover.

The connection to downtown extends beyond the business, noted Jimmy Cerrachio, the president and CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership.

Hilary Haron, business manager and an owner of Haron Jaguar and cousin to Randy Haron, is the chairwoman of the partnership’s board of directors. Her dad, Jim Haron, also an owner of the business, was on the board in the past and the recipient of the organization’s Al Allen Downtown Leadership Award in 2016.

Other car dealers have left downtown over the years, opting for places with more room to spread out their car lots, Cerrachio said. But Haron didn’t.

“They made it work in a smaller property, which is great for an urban area because there’s still potential for other stuff to pop up around them,” he said.

Haron is also working on a commercial that will run during the 2019 Super Bowl that heavily features downtown Fresno. The final 60-second version will air during the game in Fresno, Modesto, Bakersfield and other parts of the Central Valley.

A teaser (last year’s commercial combined with some new footage) is almost as much a commercial for downtown Fresno as it is for the dealership.

It features shots from all over downtown, including the newly revamped Fulton Street and a Jaguar spinning donuts on the third floor of the spiral garage. (That scene inspired a text from the garage’s new owner asking them to please not do that in his garage).

The commercial was produced, in part, by Randy Haron’s photography business, 2nd Floor Guy Productions, which is also based out of the dealership. Locally based 18THIRTY Entertainment and John Ostlund of The Fulton Group also contributed. 

You can see Haronl’s photography on Instagram at @2ndfloorguy. It features photos of Paris, New York City and Yosemite.

Getting the new building to this point was no easy task. During the 18 months of construction, the dealership was spread out over six locations downtown.

Now it’s all back in one place.

At 43,500 square feet, the building is more than triple the size it used to be. The dealership bought up additional property over the years to have room for new facility.

The service area expanded from eight bays for cars to 25 and is in the process of tripling its service staff.

“That’s going to be a huge help in just sheer capacity and getting customers in and out,” Haron said.

With the bumped up capacity in service, sales and parts, the dealership as a whole added 20 to 25 jobs. In all, 65 people work there.

The dealership has modern amenities for customers, like a coffee bar, Wi-Fi, and plenty of places to charge their phones.

Haron’s photography is also displayed in the dealership. About 50 of his images of cars, plus Yosemite and other local places hang on the walls, including a massive 10-foot by 60-foot image of Yosemite Valley.

Although his photography takes him all over the world, Haron chose the local photographs to hang in the dealership.

“Everywhere I go, I just want to come home,” he said. “It’s nice to visit other places, but I want to come home.”