Take a glimpse at Ava Late’s resume, and you’ll wonder how she does it all. Meet her in person, and you’ll begin to understand. Late is a whirlwind of energy and enthusiasm, and lately a lot of that has gone into the new store she and her husband Steve just purchased. That store, Late European, sells cars that are part of what’s called the ultra-premium category: think Aston Martin, Bentley, and Rolls Royce.
The Lates also approach their commitment to community with the same passion, making them something of an Austin force.
The ultra-premium store may be new for the Lates, but they are far from novices when it comes to the car business. Steve Late comes from a family of car dealers in West Texas, and his children look like they will continue in his footsteps. For the past 30 years, Late has focused his expertise in the luxury market, something he says is growing fast in Texas. Before moving starting up Late European, the Lates had run a BMW dealership in Austin for 11 years.
They’d had their eye on this store, which they purchased from John Eagle, for five years before the deal went through.
“These cars are pieces of artwork,” Ava Late said. “One of the things we believe is most important is treating people well, spoiling them, and giving them the best customer service ever. We try to figure out how much we can do to make you feel special. When you have multiple generations in the business, that wisdom and experience counts for something. We’re just proud to be there, nothing makes us happier than seeing our new friends drive away in cars they’re excited about.”
BMWs may be lovely cars, but a Rolls Royce is an entirely different thing. Think insane amounts of legroom, seats covered in exotic leathers, trays that automatically fold out for wine and cheese, and panels of controls for passengers in the backseats.
Late European covers all of Texas, with the exception of the Dallas and Houston markets, and the Lates already have their eyes on a second showroom in the San Antonio area and potentially a third in West Texas.
“The luxury brands, like BMW, Mercedes, Audi, and Lexus have been on fire in the state of Texas,” said Steve Late. “The Texas economy has been overwhelming with high tech, and oil and gas, and all those brands are performing at greater levels than in the rest of the country….many luxury customers, as they get more mature, they like to have a special vehicle around that they can do special things in. That’s the Rolls Royce, Bentley, Lotus, and Aston Martin. And people are flocking to that.”
It’s not just cars keeping the Lates busy, though. Ava Late serves on several boards in Austin, from the Capital of Texas Alzheimer’s Association and UT Austin Development Board to Ballet Austin. She’s also involved with the Human Rights Campaign, the Darrell K. Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease, and the Helping Hand Home for Children.
A typical day for her might look something like this: work all morning at the new store, help host a Helping Hand Home luncheon, run back to work for an ad agency meeting, and then hoof it to a UT Development Board meeting. And even the car dealership itself is in on the action, recently hosting a fundraiser for the Austin Symphony’s youth education endowment.
Ava Late credits her mother with giving her a sense of philanthropic obligation, as well as Steve’s family.
“The greatest gift anyone can do for themselves is love what you do, and give back to your community. I feel that if I’m leading with my heart and doing what I’m passionate about, that gives me energy. That’s what drives us.”
12989 Research Blvd., Austin, TX 78750