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Bringing it all under one roof

With the moving of a sign last week, Austin Ford Chrysler has put the final touches on a consolidation of dealerships in Austin.

Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram are now all sold in one building at 2701 Oakland Avenue West in Austin. This left the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram location, which was located just down the road, empty.

According to General Manager Scott Swelland, the consolidation was a matter or resources.

“Pretty soon after we purchased it, it made a lot more sense if we didn’t have to keep two businesses going and keep things together,” he said, noting that it was a move brought about by cost-savings and efficiency. “The Dodge building was newer, but never built to be a dealership. It’s a big warehouse and to sustain the inventory there was a need for more vehicles.”

The Dodge location, Swelland said, just wasn’t big enough to hold the amount of vehicles the company needed.

However, the move to bring the dealerships under one roof, has been a lengthy and difficult proposition.

As soon as the purchase of the business was made in 2017, Swelland said the effort was made to try and consolidate, but the merger was held up as work continued to try and get Ford and Chrysler to agree to the merger.

The fear was that of competition as Chrysler didn’t want to merge with Ford because of the renewed push of the Ford Bronco as they started to catch up with the F150. At the end of the day, there was a lot of back and forth.

“The approval was the big thing,” Swelland said. “Ford would say yes, Chrysler would say no. This is the fourth time we tried to consolidate.”

One of the worries was possible confusion born of the move, but since both Ford and Chrysler agreed to merger, things have been going smoothly.

“It’s been working great, especially now that we have the sign over here,” Swelland said. “It’s helped ease the confusion.”

“There’s some people hesitant to come over that don’t think it’s the same people,” he continued. “Some thought Chrysler was closed down, despite signage and marketing.”

Even in the midst of a strange 2020, Swelland said the dealership has enjoyed a positive response to the move.

“We’re on track to have our best year ever,” Swelland said. “This will make it easier for everyone.”

The consolidation isn’t the last thing the dealership will do either. The dealership is looking at roof work, upgraded lighting and has added new hoists. There’s also plans that hopefully in the next year there will be a remodel of the showroom, using local contractors.

“We’re on track for another good year,” Swelland said. “As of (Dec. 30) we were the second best Ford dealership in the state behind Marshall.”