TOP 49ers Special Section | Anchorage Chrysler

Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

Miles ahead of the pack

By Arie Henry


laska is a rugged place. Its landscape is rugged, its people are rugged, and it takes rugged tools to get the job—whatever job that may be—done. It comes as no surprise, then, that the state’s roads are dominated by large pickups, four-wheel drive SUVs, and hill-traversing Jeeps. Alaska terrain calls for vehicles built with power and maneuverability.

Enter Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, which prides itself as “Ram Truck Territory and Alaska’s Jeep Headquarters.” As recently as 2014, the State of Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles records contained more registrations of Chrysler, Dodge, and Ram vehicles than any other automobile brand (compared to ownership of brands such as Ford, Chevrolet, or Toyota). According to Anchorage Chrysler President and General Manager Corey Meyers, there are very few states in a similar situation, perhaps only one other.

“We’re the top dealer, so we’re the biggest contributing factor to those numbers,” he points out.

As a result, Anchorage Chrysler has long enjoyed its position at the top of the list of dealerships selling the aforementioned brands. For years, it has also enjoyed a spot among the Top 49ers, a list that includes only one other automobile dealer.

A History of Success

Even Anchorage Chrysler’s beginnings fifty-five years ago embody that rugged Alaska resilience. Founded in 1963 by then-owner Ken Davis, the dealership survived the earthquake of 1964 that devastated much of Anchorage, including the downtown area where Anchorage Chrysler is still located today. When its original building didn’t survive the quake, the dealership simply moved next door and resumed business as usual.

“This [current] building is a mirror image of that one,” explains Anchorage Chrysler Vice President Calvin Towns, who Meyers points to as a wealth of information about the dealership’s history.

Towns recalls a slightly different makeup of brands sold by the dealership when he first started in 1976.

“Back then we had Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge—which sold Dodge trucks at the time—and Mitsubishi. And as we’ve evolved, Dodge trucks turned into Ram, they took Plymouth away, and brought Jeep onboard. So we’re still back to the four brands.”

“And we’ve always been the biggest dealer in the state on the Chrysler level,” Meyers adds. “When we took on Jeep, we became the biggest Jeep dealer, as well.”

Ray Sutton took over ownership in the late 1970s, followed by Rod Udd in 1990. Under Udd, Anchorage Chrysler embarked on a new phase that propelled it forward as a household name.

“When Rod took over, things kind of changed in the area because there became more competition. First, we were the only Chrysler dealership. Then, all of a sudden, they allowed the Lithia store in. A lot more imports came into town, as well. Alaska got a lot more choice, so [Anchorage Chrysler’s] numbers were a lot harder to keep up.”

Despite the increase in competition, Anchorage Chrysler reported record sales numbers in the mid-1990s, a testament to Udd’s leadership.

“Rod [had] done quite well with this dealership when it came to competition,” says Meyers.

As more Fortune 500 companies began to make their way into Alaska’s auto dealership market, Anchorage Chrysler leaned on its reputation of being a locally-owned hometown dealership that customers could trust. To this day, it continues to brand itself as Alaska’s “Hometown Dealer.”

Not long after Anchorage Chrysler introduced Jeep vehicles to its list of offerings it became Alaska’s top-selling dealer for that brand as well. In fact, it took less than half of a year: Anchorage Chrysler officially had an available inventory of Jeeps in August 2010 and by the end of the year it was leading the state in Jeep sales.

The Customer Is Key

In a retail business, customer satisfaction is a lynchpin to a store’s success. As customer needs and the level of available knowledge about automobiles have evolved, so has Anchorage Chrysler’s ability to meet those needs.

2018 Iditarod Champion Joar Leifseth Ulsom is presented a truck from the dealership in Nome.

Anchorage Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

“Everything’s changing,” notes Towns. “With the Internet, customers are way more informed than they’ve ever been. So when they come here, they usually have a good idea of what they’re already looking for. But when you have 500-plus cars out here, it’s easy for them to have too many choices.”

Addressing ever-evolving customer needs calls for ongoing staff training, which Anchorage Chrysler consistently provides. That training is a part of how the dealership builds a positive customer experience.

“We try to treat customers like family, so hopefully that’s what we’re known for,” Meyers emphasizes. “We meet and greet the customers, treat them with respect, and we really don’t try to do any high-pressure sales events where dealerships try to fleece you out of your money and your car. Before you know it, they’ve taken the keys to your trade-in and thrown them on the roof and you can’t get out of there.”

Steady Hands on the Wheel

Alaska’s recent economic troubles hit the retail sector hard, and auto dealerships are no exception. To maintain business, Towns says Anchorage Chrysler has to maintain a ready supply of merchandise.

“You have to have the right product and you have to have inventory. Even though the market may be on a little bit of a downturn, you’ve still got to have choices for your customers. And we have a pretty good selection of vehicles out there,” Towns says.

“In fact we have 764 available right now in just new vehicles,” Meyers adds. “It’s about double of what our competition has.”

With a large inventory and a track record of sales success, Anchorage Chrysler maintains a solid relationship with its manufacturing suppliers.

Another benefit of Anchorage Chrysler’s sales model is the reduction in wait time for customers to drive away with the vehicles they want. When inventory is small, one of the largest barriers to purchasing an automobile is how long a customer sometimes has to wait after making the decision to buy.

“Typically, on order, you’re looking at up to 120 days before actually seeing the vehicle,” Meyers says. “Shipping is usually thirty to forty-five days of that, sometimes longer. That’s why our dealership makes sure we have a rather large inventory. In the Lower 48, they do not do that practice.”

While the cost of carrying that many vehicles is higher, Meyers says that it makes sense in Alaska.

“What works in Alaska is that people don’t have to wait the 120 days to have one built because typically we have it.”

It’s this mindset of considering the details (such as customer wait time) that has allowed Anchorage Chrysler to weather the economic storm and manage to keep its share of the market.

As Meyers notes, “The pie got smaller, but not our slice of the pie.”

“Before the Lower 48 was out of its [2008] recession, we were actually doing quite well back then in Anchorage. Year-over-year, virtually every month, we come out 10, 15, 25 percent ahead of the next year four or five years in a row, to where the numbers get so high that it’s almost impossible to improve on. We were recognized as one of the few dealerships back then that actually got there,” he continues.

“And then all of a sudden Alaska, of course, went into [its own recession] when oil [prices] went way down. Things changed—not dramatically—for us, and it got a little tougher doing business. But we’re still one of the big swingers with Chrysler, that’s for sure.”

To illustrate Meyers’ point, Anchorage Chrysler owns more than 50 percent of the combined Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep market share in Alaska.


One of Anchorage Chrysler’s most notable contributions to the Alaska community is its yearly involvement with the Iditarod. In fact, Udd underwrote the cost to create the Joe Redington Sr. Iditarod Champions Trophy.

While that’s a great conversation starter for Iditarod trivia buffs, the dealership is probably best known for a more visible contribution: after the first place victor crosses the finish line in Nome, Anchorage Chrysler presents him or her with a brand new vehicle. The winner can choose any vehicle from the dealership’s selection. Cash is another alternative Anchorage Chrysler offers, but why opt for cash when a Dodge Charger is on the table?

Anchorage Chrysler is one of a lofty list of Iditarod Principal Partners, which also includes Donlin Gold, GCI, and Exxon Mobil.

“We’re rubbing elbows with billion-dollar companies, and we’re not a billion-dollar company,” Meyers proudly states.

Anchorage Chrysler also contributes to another racing community: the Alaska Raceway Park in Palmer is a motorsports complex that holds races throughout the summer. The dealership is a sponsor and even has a lane on the park’s quarter-mile drag strip in its name.

“They call it the Anchorage Chrysler Lane and it’s on the right-hand side,” says Meyers.

On its website, the dealership mentions several local nonprofits to which it contributes, including the Intervention Help Line, Boys & Girls Clubs, Habitat for Humanity, Fur Rendezvous, Alaska Veterans Foundations, and many more.

“Rod used to make it a point to give back to the community,” he says.

Great Mileage

The generosity Anchorage Chrysler extends to its customers and the community comes from within its own company culture.

Without hesitation, Meyers and Towns point to the Anchorage Chrysler employees as their most valuable assets. The dealership’s culture and reputation for employee retention contribute to a positive environment.

“It’s noted that we’re rather fair, not only in the wages that we pay but also the time off that our people get,” Meyers says.

Working at a car dealership does not typically consist of a nine-to-five schedule, especially in sales. However, one unique perk Anchorage Chrysler offers is every other weekend off in addition to a day off every week.

“When other people like trainers see our schedules, they’re dumbfounded because ours are really fair to our employees, which is probably the reason why we get some of the best employees from other dealerships.”

“We’ve got employees that have been here for decades,” adds Towns.

Meyers first joined the dealership in May of 1989, working his way through the ranks in nearly every position before Udd chose him to be the dealership’s president. Even with that kind of tenure, Meyers still does not consider himself a grizzled veteran by any means.

“I’ve been here nearly thirty years, and I’m still a cheechako.”