Ballas Buick GMC expandsWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ballas Buick GMC is expanding and remodeling its facility to create a better experience for customers and to comply with General Motors’ new image for its dealerships.
“We are excited about making it a more premium experience for the customer,” said Marianne Ballas, owner of Ballas Buick GMC. “The expansion is a refinement to improve the customer experience to what they want and deserve.”
Construction has begun on the expansion and remodeling project at Ballas, which is scheduled for completion in late December. Ballas said the dealership plans to hold an open house in early 2012 depending upon its completion.
The first phase of construction will add two new-car bays to the east side of the dealership for new-car delivery. It will give the front façade a complete facelift to comply with GM’s standards for Buick GMC dealerships in the U.S.
The second phase will involve enclosing the service lane and adding a quick lube center. Customers will drive inside for all service and not have to deal with poor weather conditions.
Construction is being done by union workers under the management of Rudolph|Libbe Inc.
“Choosing to do business with a local company and using union contractors was an important component to our construction plans,” said Todd Hehl, general manager of Ballas Buick-GMC.
During construction, it will be business as usual with little change to the customer experience, said Hehl, who has served as general manager for seven of his 23 years at the dealership.
“Construction means that business is good and we are in a growth mode,” Ballas said.
She reported the dealership has experienced 20 consecutive months of increases in sales compared to the previous year.
“People are moving back to American-made premium products and Buick is the fastest growing brand in America,” Ballas said.
Ballas said she is excited about new models and technology being developed by Buick and GMC.
The new E-assist hybrid technology works off a six-speed transmission being built at the GM Powertrain plant in Toledo. When the car slows down, it is powered by an ion battery, she said.
“I call it a hybrid of a hybrid that will be available in Regal and LaCrosse models. It increases fuel economy by 25 percent,” Ballas said.
Buick’s new models include the Baby Enclave mini-crossover, Verano luxury compact car and the Regal Grand Sport performance car.
“The car business is an exciting and wonderful business but it comes with a lot of risk,” Ballas said.
The Ballas dealership has been a fixture in the Toledo community since it was established in 1970 by George Ballas. Marianne has worked at the dealership since 1971 and celebrated her 40th anniversary there Aug. 19.
“George was my mentor long before we were married. I learned everything about life, details in business and philanthropy from George,” she said.
She has served as owner of the dealership since George passed away in 2002, although her transition to owner wasn’t automatic. She attended GM’s dealer candidate school before he died.
Following his death, she operated the business for 18 months and earned GM’s approval to own it. She obtained financing to buy the dealer franchise and the property it occupies from his estate. Her two sons, Tim and Jeff Robinson who grew up in the business, serve as sales managers at the dealership. They have given her five beautiful grandchildren as well, Ballas said.
Ballas will serve as chairperson of the 2012 Auto Show Gala in January which is expected to surpass $1 million in contributions to local charities since it began nine years ago.
“I believe that we have an obligation to give back to the community,” Ballas said.
Her dealership is participating in Autos for Athletics, an initiative by Sylvania area auto dealers to raise funds to build and improve athletic facilities in the Sylvania School District. For every customer who purchases or leases a vehicle or has service performed before Nov. 25, it will make a contribution to the Sylvania Athletic Foundation’s “Champions Campaign.”