#h#Why Civility Counts#/h#

Lawrence H. Zisman has started a company that aims to increase the level of civility in the workplace, the marketplace, and the political process. He will offer seminars, workshops, speakers surveys, studies, and educational materials.

“The level of civility between managers and workers and between the workers themselves greatly affects job satisfaction and productivity,” he suggests. “In the consumer marketplace both buyer and seller have a mutual obligation to exhibit a certain level of civility for providing an acceptable level of service and for experiencing customer satisfaction.”

Zisman grew up in Atlantic City, where his parents had a wholesale business and owned real estate. He majored in history at Rutgers, Class of 1965, and has a master’s degree in city and regional planning. He administered a grant program for housing for public colleges in Newark and was in charge of an opinion survey firm. Later he started a survey focused on marketing studies for grandparents, seeing what contribution they make to society.

He and his wife, Honey Zisman, have five grandchildren, ages 2 to 14, and they used to have a firm that focused on grandparents’ responsibilities. They are also the authors of a dozen books of recipes, such as “The 47 Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World,” published by St. Martin’s Griffin. With their daughter, Jordana LeBlanc, they wrote a book on how to have original children’s birthday parties.

“Civility is the oil needed to keep civilization running smoothly,” says Zisman, who is fond of quoting the 18th century British writer, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: “Civility costs nothing and buys everything.”

Civility hit rock bottom, he believes, when some considered it acceptable to endorse the back of gift check with “thank you” rather than write a thank-you note. Zisman hastens to add that he has never personally received such an endorsement, but tales of this atrocity have emanated from Manhattan. Says Zisman: “Sloppiness in writing leads to sloppiness in actions.”

The Civility Company, Box 7231, Princeton 08543-7231; 609-443-4012; fax, 609-443-9481. Lawrence H. Zisman, president. www.thecivilitycompany.com

Second Generation Auto Dealers

Lawrence Toyota Scion (TM), 2871 Route 1, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-883-4200; fax, 609-883-7399. Paul Muller III, manager.

Two family-owned auto dealerships are dramatically restructuring. Lawrence Toyota has bought the acreage occupied by Capital City Ford, and it will expand there. Meanwhile Lawrence Lincoln Mercury has bought the inventory and the brand of the Ford dealership, and it will now be known as Lawrenceville Ford Lincoln Mercury.

The Toyota dealership is run by Paul Muller III, son (and scion) of the owner, Paul Muller Jr., who owned the franchise for 25 years. It will sell new trucks and used cars from the newly-acquired 27,000-square-foot former Ford building. “We will spruce it up on the inside and outside and start doing business in April,” says Muller III. “We couldn’t grow in the current facility, and we had been looking for property for some time.” Like his father, he went to Rider University (Class of 1991).

Muller III’s grandfather had been in the banking business. After a stint in Vietnam, Muller Jr. came home in 1972 and started a finance business, setting up banks and car dealerships to do business with computers. He did business with Johnny Pann, who used to own the dealership, and Pann sold it to him.

Muller has three brothers. Two of them, Tom and Mark, are also in the business, and they are running their father’s other dealership, Team Toyota in Langhorne. The second oldest brother owns a restaurant in South Florida. The Route 1 business, very appropriately, has been renamed Lawrence Toyota Scion.

Lawrenceville Ford Lincoln Mercury, 2920 Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-882-2900; fax, 609-882-2833. Anthony Stewart. www.lawrencelm.com

After 25 years on Brunswick Pike, Chet Stewart has retired from Lawrence Lincoln Mercury, and the business has been taken over by his children, Anthony Stewart and Michele Palmer, who have added the Ford franchise (formerly Capital City Ford). They operate under the title of Lawrence Auto Group.

“The automobile business isn’t what it used to be,” says Chet Stewart. “The Lincoln Mercury franchise was struggling. A decision needed to be made — to close it down or sell it off. I was ready to get out. I’ve been doing it a long time.” He started driving a parts truck, as a teenager, in Feasterville, and he joined McCafferty Ford in 1962. He has five children and nine grandchildren and expects to spend more time in Florida. “With 27 service bays and a lot of room in the showroom, we have plenty of building and service capacity,” says Stewart. “The service business has started to pick up already.”

His son, Tony, started washing cars when he was 13, began working full-time at the age of 18, starting as a valet and working his way up through the ranks. He is in charge of sales and service and his sister takes care of the office and the financial side.

“I have a more complete sales, service, and parts company because now I offer all three of Ford’s domestic brands over one roof. That gives us a clear advantage over some other area dealers,” says Tony Stewart. He notes that most Ford customers will not cross the shop to buy a Mercury and vice versa. “The Mercury has always been marketed as a step up, to the white collar worker. Now we have an opportunity to get all those customers in one store.”

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