Weston Kia finds room to breathe
Business is brisk at the old 12-Mile Store site, dealership officials say
As the top-selling Kia dealership in the region, if not the nation, Weston Kia officials know there is a price for success.
In this case, the cost of hot sales was having to do business in a cramped space in the former Shell gas station on the southwest corner of 223rd Avenue and Stark Street.
'Stuff was pigeon-holed everywhere,' remembered Mike Berryman, Weston Kia general manager.
But the dealership, which Berryman said has sold about 1,000 vehicles annually five years in a row, now has some breathing room. The company vacated the 3,500-square-foot space and moved across the street to a 23,000-square-foot structure, which opened Feb. 15.
It is a high-profile space. The Zimmerman family ran their iconic 12-Mile Store on the land since the 1930s. The store's huge, rotating neon sign was a local landmark. The family now owns property around the former Shell station.
CEO Jan Weston said his family, which has run the dealership for three decades, negotiated for years with the Zimmermans before the real estate contracts were finalized a few years ago. The 12-Mile Store was demolished in August 2005.
Construction of the new space took seven months, a process that 'never goes as fast as you want it to go,' Weston said, adding that overall, the construction phase went well.
The largest hurdle may come Easter weekend, when city work crews shut down the entire intersection for repaving. The project, expected to last 24 hours, will impact the dealership, Weston predicted. But it is necessary as the asphalt is worn out, he said.
'We're anxious to get that over with,' he said.
Since opening in February, business has been good, he said. Working in the substantially larger building has come with a bit of culture shock.
'We're getting used to it, but we're excited about it,' Weston said.
The dealership employs 40 people, spread out across floor and Internet sales, service and a two-floor parts department. About 250 to 300 vehicles, including cars, minivans and SUVs, are for sale, including several models on display inside the building. An inside sales area, which the old space lacked, is a nice amenity, Berryman noted, given the area's soggy winters.
The large parts department allows for quicker customer service, while the service section has been swamped with Kia owners needing warranty work, oil changes and scheduled maintenance.
'It's been a blessing we didn't anticipate,' Berryman said. 'It's quite the improvement.'