The Ford Dealership, established in 1958 in Bend by Jeff Robberson’s father, Gordy, is thriving at soon to be remodeled site.
In 1971, Gordy Robberson, who established the Ford dealership in 1958, built a new location at 2100 NE Third Street. The idea was to bring the car sales and service business, then 13 years old, to a central location for its customers. While the location has stayed the same for 43 years, major remodeling changes are afoot.
“It’s been in the works for a long time,” explains Jeff Robberson, Gordy’s son and current owner of Robberson Ford of Bend and Prineville. “We searched for a possible new location, but couldn’t find anything with a large enough, convenient space. We were very interested in keeping our customer base.”
The newly remodeled building, with a completion date set in December, will modernize the dealership and keep it in line with Ford and Mazda dealerships across the country. In addition to complying with building codes and Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, the new building will include a more open feel as it expands. Specifically, a full second floor for administrative staff will be added, along with a staff training room, small commercial kitchen, an elevator and ramp access from the parking lot into the showroom.
“I like the openness of the new design,” says Robberson. “We were a little chopped up before. There is going to be much better transition between the spaces.”
The $5 million project, designed by Bend-based BBT Architects, is being built by Kirby Nagelhout Construction Company. The building has undergone a dozen remodels since 1971 including the last training room upgrade in 2007. This major remodel will increase the building’s square footage from 6,174 to 15,064 feet. The better flow of the new structure will include what Ford Motor Company calls, “high-quality touch points.”
Alongside the upgraded, behind the scenes areas are the major changes designed to enhance the customer’s experience. Robberson was most concerned with upgrading the areas where the clients get their needs met. An redesigned front room greets the customers, more offices allow each salesperson to conduct business privately and state-of-the-art lounges offer work stations and comfortable seating.
Don Stevens of BBT Architects offers his point of view, “I’d say the best feature in the new design is the enclosed area where you pick up your car.”
The idea for the remodel had been stewing in Robberson’s head for some time before the design process. He visited a friend’s dealership in Mississippi and became jealous over the seamlessness of the building. After some coaxing by other dealers and friends, Robberson decided to start with a clean sheet of paper when talking with BBT Architects.
“This all started with Jeff asking us to redesign the lounge area, explains Stevens. “Then, it snowballed with Ford offering incentives to upgrade the entire dealership.”
Robberson, keenly aware of his business during the remodel, reports this April’s parts, service and sales numbers are better than April of last year. And May is outpacing April. Since 1971, Robberson Ford has delivered over 30,000 cars out of the Third Street location.
“We really appreciate our customers patience during this remodel,” offers Robberson.
In an effort to continue to provide the best customer service possible, Robberson Ford hired two additional employees to help direct clients to the correct locations while the building is being renovated.
“When the construction is done, we will have an enhanced customer waiting area and an enclosed delivery area,” says Robberson. “We wanted a comfortable environment for customers to learn how to use their new car.”
A soft opening will follow December’s expected completion date, with a grand opening sometime in the first quarter of 2015. All facets of the new building will be completed, save for the weather-dependent paving.
Robberson anticipates a 15 to 20 percent increase to his staff of 103. The added space, along with the rise in staff are all designed to make the car buying and service needs of their customers.
“Our number one goal was to make it easier to do business with us,” emphasizes Robberson.
2100 NE Third Street, Bend
CEO: Jeff Robberson
Year Established: 1958 (1971 – current location)
Products: Ford, Mazda, Lincoln sales and service
Hot News: Current remodel to more than double building size.
Growth Outlook: April 2014 better than April 2013. May 2014 looks to outpace April.