As a teenager growing up in Middle Island, Jonathan Bottomley was a tri-athlete in baseball, basketball and football. He was good in all three sports but he excelled in basketball in the small forward position.
When he was 16 and about to be a junior in high school, Jonathan attended a Knicks summer camp at St. John’s University in Queens.
He had an amazing experience there, getting to meet some of the team’s top stars.
“I had a 3-point shoot-out with John Starks,” Jonathan recalls. “He beat me by one shot. He hit 9 out of 10, and I hit 8 out of 10. He said, ‘I’ll see you in a few years, kid.’”
That would have been a dream come true, but it was not meant to be. One afternoon, as Jonathan was riding home from a basketball game on his bicycle, he was hit by a car.
“They blew a stop sign and hit me so hard it bent the frame of the bicycle around my knee, compressing my knee cartilage, and injured my shoulder,” he says. “I almost lost my eye from the car’s hood ornament.”
Jonathan had to endure two years of physical therapy and rehabilitation before he could play sports again. By that time he had graduated high school, and basketball was out of the picture.
Instead of attending college on a basketball scholarship, Jonathan went to Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, where he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Culinary Arts.
“After graduation, I worked as a chef for a few years at Danford’s Inn in Port Jefferson and the Radisson Hotel in Islandia,” he says, “but I realized that the restaurant business wasn’t for me.”
Then a friend suggested that Jonathan try his hand at selling cars. It was a slam dunk.
Jonathan began his sales career at Ramp Chevrolet in Port Jefferson Station and became one of the top Corvette salesmen in the country during his 11-year tenure there.
“I enjoy driving cars immensely,” he says with a smile. “I truly respect a fine automobile. It was one of the reasons why I was so successful selling Corvettes.”
His ultimate goal was to work for a luxury automotive dealership.
“I chose BMW because their design concepts are similar to a racecar, with near 50:50 weight distribution and perfection in handling,” Jonathan explains. “BMW did it across the board, and that was something that Chevy did not do.”
He was ready to move on and he knew what team would be the right fit.
“I wanted to come onboard at Competition BMW because the Buzzetta family has a reputation for treating their employees extremely well and they have done wonders with imports in this area,” Jonathan says. “They have an excellent reputation for taking care of customers, which is what I stand for and believe in.”
Plus, the company culture at Competition BMW is family-oriented, which Jonathan believes is of the utmost importance.
“My kids are my world. When I’m not at work, I’m with my kids,” he says.
Jonathan believed BMW would be a brand he could identify with to build up a loyal customer base, and he was right. After almost three years at Competition BMW, he has attained platinum level status, the highest achievement in BMW sales and was promoted to sales manager.
OFF THE BENCH
Becoming successful in his sales career is just one side of Jonathan. Born to be an athlete, he began playing basketball again.
“Even at my age, 40, I’m still winning intramural basketball championships,” he says.
Basketball is in his family’s DNA. His sons, Alexander, 7, and Niko, 6, have picked up the sport and Jonathan coaches their basketball team, a job he takes very seriously.
“I’m teaching the kids the fundamentals of the game and helping them to keep their focus,” he says. “Parents come up to me and say that I’m amazing with the kids.”
Basketball isn’t the only sport that Jonathan excels in. He is also an award-winning billiards player.
After performing well in college tournaments, one day Jonathan put down his cue stick and didn’t pick it up for almost a dozen years.
“My brother, who is a phenomenal pool player, asked me to play again,” he recalls, “and I realized I’m pretty darn good. I’ve won the MVP award in my league a few times.”
He also puts his culinary degree to good use.
“Cooking is a big passion of mine,” he says. “I can pretty much cook anything, but I’m more of a grill master. I can make anything on a barbeque. My sons say I make the best burgers in the world.”
On the sales floor at Competition BMW, Jonathan uses his basketball skills when mentoring his team of 11 client advisors and three product Geniuses.
“I think of myself as more of a coach than a typical manager,” he explains. “I teach them to think about alternative ways to close deals. I tell my team to find someone who is successful in our industry, learn about what they did, tweak it and make it their own.”
What motivates him, Jonathan says, are the traits that he has displayed since his basketball career was sidelined: forward thinking and perseverance.
He says he finds that same approach at Competition BMW.
“One of the reasons I came to Competition BMW,” he says, “is because of what they offer their clients, like their pick-up and drop-off service, which no other center on Long Island is offering. I know I’ve gotten business from other parts of the Island due to our outstanding service. It sets us apart and is just another example of Buzzetta’s forward thinking.”
The goal of selling cars may still be the same, but Jonathan has noticed that some of the customers’ styles have changed over the years.
“I make sure I’m always approachable and never shy away from helping a customer,” he says. “I’ve been known to grab a sponge and help detail a car.”
Yet there’s a different mentality for working with each generation, he finds.
“The Millennials rely heavily on the Internet and are on their phone during negotiations,” he says.
Jonathan manages to keep the ball in play, so to speak, throughout the give-and-take.
“They’re looking at the invoice while you’re talking to them,” he says. “You have to tread the line very carefully. If you continue to build relationships, they come back, and it gets easier.”
Jonathan is eagerly anticipating the debut of the BMW 7 Series and is ready to close deals.
“It’s a sexy car,” he says. “The Spa Experience and maintenance package offers are going to be game-changers and will increase loyalty to the brand significantly.”
And to Jonathan, repeat performance is what it’s all about.
“The most important thing to remember is, if you treat people the right way, they will come back,” he says. “That’s what I do and why they call me The Closer.”