After 30 years in the same building, Mont Crnkovich decided it was time for a change.
So, the owner of Broadway Ford in Idaho Falls set that change in motion. The dealership at 980 W. Broadway is getting new digs.
“We have seen a lot of growth in our business over the past few years,” Crnkovich said. “Honestly, we probably outgrew this building 15 years ago, but haven’t done anything about it until now.”
Work on the new building, which will house a showroom, service department and offices, began two months ago.
Business at Broadway Ford has evolved during the past three decades. General Manager T.J. LaPoint said the Internet has changed the way dealerships interact with customers during the past 15 years.
“There’s so much information out there, people are becoming very well informed about what they’re buying,” LaPoint said.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same. LaPoint said the the dealership’s biggest seller is the F-150. The F-150 has been the best-selling truck in the U.S. for nearly 40 years. The Ford Escape and Ford Fusion are close behind in sales, he said.
Crnkovich hopes to move into the new building, which is going up behind the dealership’s existing 21,000-square-foot structure, by Nov. 1.
At 46,737 square feet, the new building will more than double the size of the old building — providing plenty of space for an expanded service center and a “quick lane” for customers in need of an oil change or other minor maintenance procedures. Additionally, the new building will leave more room for customer parking on the dealership’s 7.6-acre site.
Once construction is completed, the existing building will be demolished.
The expanded service department, which will add an additional 17,041 square feet, should make life easier for customers in need of repairs or scheduled maintenance service, Crnkovich said. It will be twice the size of the existing center.
“The thing I’m most excited about will be our expanded service department,” Crnkovich said. “We’re also adding 15 new parking spaces for the service department. That was the biggest focus of this expansion. We’ve had people who just can’t find parking spaces when they’re dropping their cars off. Sometimes, they’ll park in the street; sometimes they’ll just leave.”
In the last five years, four local car dealerships either have built new facilities or have new facilities under construction.
Five years ago Teton Toyota moved into a new building at 2252 W. Sunnyside Road. Teton Volkswagen, which is under the same ownership as Teton Toyota, recently opened its new location at 2220 W. Sunnyside Road.
Smith Honda and Smith Chevrolet are in the process of building new facilities. Both Smith dealerships will be located across Sunnyside at 3477 S. Pioneer Drive and are expected to open by Sept. 1.
Crnkovich said he didn’t feel pressured to expand to keep up with what his competitors are doing.
“Honestly, we just felt like this is the right time to expand,” he said. “We have a lot of business, we expect things to continue going well for us and I believe there is a lot of market potential for us. We like the location we’re at and wanted to stay there. We’re close to the highway, near other businesses and one of the most important things is, people know we’re here.”
Dan Cravens, regional economist for the Idaho Department of Labor, said the fact that local car dealerships are building new facilities is a sign that the local economy is strengthening.
“If a business is in a place to expand, it’s not only a good sign for them, but it also means the local economy is probably doing pretty well,” Cravens said. “In the next few years, we are expecting automotive sales employment to continue to increase. Over the next seven years, we could see more than 10 new employees hired per dealership.”
Brian Tomsett, chief building inspector for Idaho Falls, said the new Broadway Ford building is valued at $4.8 million. But that figure could change depending on construction.
“That price could easily go up half a million to a million dollars depending on how much site work they have to do,” Tomsett said. “Sometimes, you’ll run into problems on construction sites, they’ll need to clear out rocks, or move dirt around so everything’s level.”
Crnkovich expects construction to proceed smoothly.
“I think the new building is going to be great for our business and for our customers,” he said. “We’ll be providing the same great service we always have.”