With the snap of some metallic scissors and a round of applause, Michigan City’s Kia Auto Dealership is now open and ready for business. A ribbon cutting was held to celebrate the grand opening on Friday, August 12, and both the dealership staff and the Michigan City community alike are more than excited to say Kia is back in action assisting customers with all their vehicle needs.
Located at 710 U.S. Highway 20 in Michigan City, the dealership’s new address is considered one of the highest and strongest traffic counts in La Porte County.
“It was also the former Honda dealership building, so it's a perfect location,” said Clarence Hulse, executive director of the Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City (EDCMC). “This auto corridor we have here is Kia, Honda, and Chrysler, so it is the perfect place to buy a car. If you want to buy a car in the Region, come to Michigan City.”
Hulse worked with Bob Loquercio, CEO and president of the Bob Loquercio Auto Group (which includes the Kia Auto Dealership), and others at Kia to make the move happen as smoothly as possible.
“The EDC’s job is to recruit and bring the business owners to the city, so when we got the call from the owner saying that they want to move here, we helped them find land and also worked with them to help with the Michigan City permits to help make the process seamless,” Hulse said.
Loquercio has been looking forward to this grand opening for quite some time. The completion of the new dealership was originally expected to take only eight to 12 months, but with unforeseen complications from the COVID-19 pandemic, the total amount of time to finish the dealership ended up taking 18 months total. However, Loquercio credits everyone involved for working through the hardships to get the new dealership up and running successfully, even with the cards they were dealt. All in all, a total of around $3 million was invested in the dealership from start to finish.
“We're excited to be here,” Loquercio said. “COVID had set us back in terms of our timeline. We originally wanted to build this building in eight to 12 months, but it took about 18 months - there were cost overruns and some other problems, but we had an amazing staff that helped us babysit this project and those at the Missner Construction Group. Once they got their staff back to full work capacity about eight months ago, they worked 24/7 to get the job completed.”
The extra time for construction also allowed Loquercio to make even more improvements to the dealership, an opportunity he wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for the time delay.
“We made some structural changes to the service department,” Loquercio said. “We opened up the service managers area for better accessibility for our customers. We decided to reconfigure the service department and move the lifts in a different direction which would allow us to have one more lift in there.”
While the dealership has only been open for a short period, sales and business have already been skyrocketing, confirming that this was the perfect plan of action for the Kia dealership.
“We're looking to see more of these investors come to Michigan City and invest because we know they'll do well,” Hulse said. “Loquercio is proving that to us right now. He says the sales have been up 5% since they moved here. We think this is a great story because we always see people who move to Michigan City do well.”
With sales already in such a good spot, the dealership now also has a goal to sell hundreds of cars within its first year.
“We expect to sell about 500 cars here our first year,” Loquercio said. “Marketing conditions and supply chain will dictate how well we do after that, but we're going to get some support from people at the Nokia factory, and we look forward to something about 500 cars this year.”
In addition to being a prime spot for new customers, Hulse hopes it will also allow others to become more familiar with the area and to take full advantage of everything Michigan City has to offer.
“One of the things I've learned about people when they're buying cars is that they've either have cash and/or credit. So if you've got cash or credit, you're happy; when you're happy you've bought a car, you can go and celebrate our wonderful restaurants and shops. So it helps everybody within Michigan City,” he said.
Michigan City’s Kia Auto Dealership has plenty of vehicles available for almost everyone’s preference, and a staff ready to assist customers with any questions or service requests they may have. For a full list of everything the dealership has to offer, be sure to check out its website here.
The Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City is always working to add value to Michigan City and the Region by helping many local businesses such as the Kia Auto Dealership. For more information on the EDCMC, visit the economic group’s website here.