Sun Biz: Despite nationwide slump, auto dealer plans expansion
Defying the financial gravity of the times, the Ed Bozarth car dealership in Grand Junction is moving ahead with plans to transform its gateway location to Grand Junction.
The 16-year-old dealership for Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick and Saturn is planning to build a new Saturn showroom and sales office on property adjoining the familiar location at 2595 U.S. Highway 6&50 as part of phase one of its expansion.
That hard times that seem to have settled in on the auto industry hasn’t escaped Bozarth’s notice, General Manager Mark Miller said.
“With the economic downturn and uncertainty in the stock market, a lot of consumer confidence has gone down,” Miller said. “But for us, being on the West Slope, the market conditions are still pretty favorable.”
The fact is new pickups and sport-utility vehicles remain hot items in the Grand Junction market, as they have been for some time, he said. About 80 percent of sales are trucks or SUVs, and 20 percent are cars, he said
Miller and owner Ed Bozarth, who lives in Denver and operates dealerships across the West, have been planning an expansion for some time, Miller said.
The cost of steel is on the rise, but the price of oil is going down, he said. So, after putting off the idea for six or seven years, when it became increasingly clear the dealership had outgrown itself, “We decided that now is a good time to get it done,” Miller said.
It didn’t hurt that the dealership had its best month year-to-date in August, sending 106 units off the lot, not counting the Saturn sales, he said. That made the Grand Junction site the No. 1 dealership that month for General Motors, Miller said.
Bozarth has been operating the Saturn dealership out of a modular building for a couple years now. To give it a proper dealership, Bozarth bought land to the south for a Saturn showroom and sales office.
Also included in the first phase is a new, two-level, sales office for the used vehicles.
In all, the project will cost $6.3 million.
In a couple years, the company hopes to revamp the main new-car showroom and service department, Miller said.
Bozarth now employs about 90 people and will look for more once it completes its expansion work, Miller said.
“I’m glad we’re a General Motors dealership right now,” with the company’s plans for vehicles with greater fuel economy and more hybrid vehicles, he said.
“And this corner is getting cleaned up,” with new landscaping and a new dealership, he said.. “It needed to be cleaned up a bit.”