Business still hiring, expanding facility on Southwest Canyon Road

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Terry Tallerino, general manager of the brand-new Mercedes-Benz of Beaverton, shows off the spacious showroom on Southwest Canyon Road.If sales of certain higher-end automobiles are any indication, an economic upturn that started last year is continuing in a positive direction.

“In 2011, sales started to grow,” says Terry Tallerino, general manager of the brand-new Mercedes-Benz of Beaverton. “2011 was up over the last three years prior. If you look at a graph, it’s definitely going in the right direction — straight up.”

With that trend in mind — along with confidence from Medford-based Lithia Motors in the Westside market — the dealership quietly opened its doors at 9275 S.W. Canyon Road in late October after constructing a mostly new facility on the site of the former Northwest Investment Cars Inc. building.

A three-story parking structure is being built on the lot immediately to the west to accommodate employee and customer parking, and the business is still seeking about 10 sales and auto technician positions to augment its 43 employees.

A grand opening celebration for the fully completed complex is scheduled for March, the same month the unincorporated Washington County property will — through a long-planned annexation — officially join the city of Beaverton.

The operation, Lithia Motors officials say, is the first Mercedes-Benz dealership on the Westside, offering the largest selection of the luxury-oriented vehicles in the state.

Bryan DeBoer, president and chief executive officer of Lithia Motors Inc., said the soon-to-be-Beaverton location complements the company’s Mercedes dealerships in Wilsonville and on Naito Parkway in JAIME VALDEZ - Terry Tallerino, general manager of the brand-new Mercedes-Benz of Beaverton on Southwest Canyon Road, demonstrates the features of a new vehicle in the dealership's newly constructed showroom.

“We chose Beaverton because of the city’s thriving community and the ideal Canyon Road location,” he says. “Folks can easily stop in on their commute to downtown to get their cars serviced, and when they are shopping for a new car, they no longer need to travel out to Wilsonville or downtown to visit our other two Mercedes-Benz dealerships. We want to make our customers’ experience with us as convenient as possible.”

Touring the sparkling, high-ceilinged showroom, Tallerino — who transferred to Beaverton from Wilsonville — says Mercedes fits well with Canyon Road’s strip of dealerships that includes brands such as Infiniti, BMW and MINI Cooper.

“This is the best place to be,” he says. “The whole car market for Portland is out here.”

Mac Strang, the Fish Marketing account supervisor for the Lithia Motors group, agrees the new dealership is in good company.

“We’re right in the heart of luxury row right here,” he says. “This is a great opportunity to expand the Mercedes brand further west.”

For those who assume Mercedes is synonymous with luxury prices and hulking, gas-hungry sedans, Tallerino stresses the brand has grown beyond its exclusive image to appeal to younger, cost- and gas-conscious buyers. With a list price starting around $30,000, the C250 is one of the models featuring “zero-emissions”-rated BlueTec diesel technology.

“After we launched the C250s, we started attracting younger buyers,” he says. “The C250 is really about getting the gas mileage down. People are really gravitating to it.”

Another big seller is the GL450, what Tallerino calls “the largest SUV we make,” which goes for a list price between $70,000 and $74,000.

“We can’t keep these around,” he says, showing off the large windows that allow those in the waiting room a clear view of the spotless service area.

The upward tick in high-end car purchases, the manager admits, coincides with a pesky problem for those in sales: Increased durability and a tendency, even among well-heeled buyers, to hang on to them for as long as possible.

“These cars are phenomenally built — unfortunately,” he says with a chuckle. “They’re going too long.”by: JAIME VALDEZ - Mercedes-Benz of Beaverton's General Manager Terry Tallerino takes a stroll through the spotless new service center at the new dealership on Southwest Canyon Road.

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