Loyal Ford customers in the central Kenai Peninsula did not have to wait long to learn what the future held for the only Ford car dealership in Soldotna.
Stanley Ford Inc. is slated to open Monday about two weeks after Great Bear Ford shut its doors. The parts and service departments will open at 7:30 a.m. and the sales department will open at 8 a.m.
The dealership on the Sterling Highway near the Soldotna “Y” was purchased by Tony Stanley from Bob Favretto, who also owns the Kenai Chrysler Center. Stanley owns a number of new and used car dealerships in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.
Stanley said he bought the business with 10 2006-model Fords and anticipates getting “a full complement of (new) Ford product” within 45 to 60 days.
“We are emphasizing our service and parts departments,” he said, adding that the dealership will honor all Ford warranty work.
One of the 17 employees retained by the business from the previous owner is Duane Smith, the only senior master-certified Ford technician in Alaska, according to sales and finance manager Nathan Johnson.
For now, Stanley Ford will operate as a used-car dealership offering a selection of “certified pre-owned Fords.”
Besides his new venture in Soldotna, Stanley sells Kias, Mitsubishis and Budget cars and trucks in Anchorage; Nissans and Budget cars and trucks in Fairbanks; and Budget cars and trucks in Juneau. He also has Budget car rentals throughout Alaska except Kodiak, he said.
According to his wife, Mel, who he identifies as the company president, Stanley has been a new car dealer for four years and a used car dealer since 1990.
Though Stanley bought the Ford franchise from Favretto, he said he is in the process of buying the facility and the land from Ralph Seekins, an earlier owner of the Ford dealership.
Workers have been busying themselves since last week giving the showroom and sales offices a face-lift, and Stanley said current plans call for putting up a new facility in 24 months.
“We are making a long-term commitment to the community,” he said.
Stanley is not planning a grand opening with a lot of fanfare, but said, after the new car inventory arrives, the dealership “might have a community barbecue out back.”
“We did not come here with a big-city attitude,” Stanley said. “We want to enjoy the pace of the (Kenai Peninsula) community.”
He also said the dealership will have a budget allowing it to support some community activities.
When asked how he views competition from neighboring Soldotna car dealer Hutchings Chevrolet-Cadillac, Stanley said, “He has the more solid platform, but we are not going to take a back seat to anybody,”
Stanley said he believes the competition should be between the product lines, and not between the individuals.
Johnson said, “We have the number-one name plate,” referring to the Ford brand.
Favretto said his new focus will be to put all his energies into Kenai Chrysler.
Speaking about Great Bear Ford, he said, “When I got to the point that I didn’t have the tools to service the community I said I would sell it.
“When you’re running a lot of businesses, sometimes you get a little diluted,” he said.
Last week, the Kenai dealer received a truckload of new Chrysler products and Favretto said he is expecting another truckload this week. A truckload is 12 vehicles, he said.
The Kenai Chrysler Center automotive shop is “running good,” Favretto said. “Our warranty service has never missed a beat.”
He said when the dealership is at full strength, “we have about 60 new and the same number of used (vehicles).”
Stanley said he and his wife “are excited to be here.”
“We’re thrilled with the quality of the folks we’re surrounded by,” he said.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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