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Sunday, 08 February 2015 16:06

Ohio firm acquires Keller Kia dealership, moves store to Plainfield Avenue

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Kia of North Grand Rapids opened at the former Toyota dealership on Plainfield Avenue. Kia of North Grand Rapids opened at the former Toyota dealership on Plainfield Avenue. PHOTO: Joe Boomgaard

A push by automotive OEMs to have individual dealer stores focus on selling vehicles from one core brand or one automaker has led to the creation of a new dealership in Grand Rapids.

Last week, Grand Rapids-based Keller Ford Kia Services LLC at 3385 Alpine Avenue finalized a deal to sell its Kia franchise to Bill Doraty, former owner of Bill Doraty Kia in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. Doraty renamed the franchise as Kia of North Grand Rapids and relocated it to 4575 Plainfield Avenue NE.

The new location, once home to a Toyota dealership, had been vacant for years. Grand Rapids-based Visser Brothers Inc. provided construction management services for the buildout of the new Kia of North Grand Rapids facility.

Doraty said the purchase was a mutual agreement with Rob Keller, the president of Keller Ford Kia. The deal was driven by manufacturers wanting single-point-of-focus stores for their brands, he said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The sale will allow both standalone stores to focus on their operations, Keller said.

In recent years, Keller Ford had looked to expand on its Ford operations, particularly used car sales, but those efforts have been hampered because of facility and land constraints.

“When (Doraty) made the initial inquiry, I mulled it around and it turned out to be a good opportunity,” Keller told MiBiz. “We were trying to get ourselves focused on our (Ford) brand. I wanted to have a single-brand focus.”

Keller Ford will retain all 60 of its employees as part of the deal. They will now be solely focused on the Ford aspect of the business, Keller said.

“Frankly, I think consumers will benefit because (both dealerships) can focus on one single brand,” Keller said.

Doraty agreed.

“With a single-point-of-focus, I think we will create a different awareness for the Kia brand in Grand Rapids,” Doraty said. “Kia has come onto the scene in the last five to seven years with cutting-edge technology. Its model mix is now very strong from entry-level to the mid-size SUV market.”

The new dealership expects to sell approximately 75 to 100 new cars per month and to move about the same volume in used cars, said Doraty, who will serve as president of the new store. The new Kia store will employ a staff of about 25 — all new jobs, he said.

Doraty is a veteran automotive retailer, having previously owned dealerships in Ohio. Most recently, Doraty sold a Cleveland-area Kia dealership last summer, although it still bears his name, according to news reports.

Nationally, Kia sales have been on the rise. In 2014, the brand posted its best-ever sales in the month of December with 45,587 vehicles sold, 35.6 percent higher than the previous year, according to a statement. Overall, Kia sales rose 8.4 percent year over year in 2014.

After a multi-year period of strong sales gains, both Kia Motors and fellow South Korean OEM Hyundai are projecting their slowest sales growth in nine years, largely due to capacity constraints, according to a January report in Automotive News.

Read 6138 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 11:12

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