By JIM PARKER

The Post and Courier

Baker Mercedes-Benz again has attained the top echelon for dealers, earning the luxury carmaker’s Best of the Best award for 2012.

Owner Tommy Baker and staff at the Mercedes dealership on Savannah Highway are accepting kudos for being honored with the Dealer Recognition Award for the seventh time since 2003.

Baker is the only Mercedes dealership in South Carolina to win the award, which is based on outstanding performance throughout the year. The company was notified of the honor in the past week.

What makes the tribute so special is a dealership must meet lofty standards in every one of a host of categories. They include customer satisfaction, new vehicle sales, certified pre-owned sales, leadership and management, parts operations and market penetration.

Baker Mercedes first won Best of the Best for 2003 and also earned the top award in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and now 2012. The Charleston dealership was the top Mercedes-Benz outfit in the country in 2007.

This month’s presentation of the prestigious honor comes as parent Baker Motor Co. continues through a successful period of laying the foundation for and completing mergers, expansion and restoration.

Charleston-based Baker Motor Co. is a factory authorized Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Infiniti, Range Rover, Land Rover, Jaguar, Maserati, Sprinter and smart sales and service provider; runs Baker Buick GMC Cadillac, also on Savannah Highway; and heads up Baker Motor Co. of Mount Pleasant pre-owned vehicle store on Johnnie Dodds Boulevard.

According to the company, Baker won Best of the Best for its “success as an independent entrepreneur (that) routinely exceeds the expectations of Mercedes-Benz owners.”

Tommy Baker, the owner and president, said, “We are so honored to receive Mercedes-Benz’ highest distinction for our efforts in 2012. We have such an incredible team committed to providing an exceptional ownership experience for each customer we have the pleasure to serve. This award is a true testament to their teamwork and dedication.”

As of 2011, Baker Mercedes employed 75 people. The entire Baker Motor operation including Baker Buick GMC Cadillac has about 190 employees. Tommy Baker has called the flagship Mercedes-Benz franchise “our barometer,” and “the lady who took you to the dance.”

Baker Motor Co. dates to 1988, with Mercedes-Benz as its original franchise. The business started on Morrison Drive in Charleston before moving west of the Ashley in the mid 1990s. Baker is celebrating a quarter century in business this year.

While no figures were immediately available for 2012, typically less than 10 percent of the close to 500 Mercedes dealerships across the country achieve Best of the Best status in any given year.

“These dealers are exemplary representatives of the Mercedes-Benz brand: an entrepreneurial spirit fueled by a commitment to excellence and strengthened by a total focus on customer satisfaction,” said Steve Cannon, president and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz USA.

“I thank them for their hard work and dedication,” he said.

For more information, visit www.bakermotorcompany.com or the company’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BakerMotorCompany.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com