New owner takes over Soldotna auto dealership

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2002

Kenai Chrysler owner Bob Favretto closed a big deal Wednesday, as his purchase of Seekins Ford in Soldotna was finalized. The move means Favretto now owns car dealerships in both Kenai and Soldotna.

Favretto said Thursday that owning a Ford dealership has been a dream of his for a long time.

"It's exciting for me. I started in 1973 in Joliet, Illinois, as a Ford salesman. The dream finally came true of owning a Ford store. It's kinda neat," Favretto said.

The deal was finalized after months of negotiations between Seekins and Favretto, and an announcement could only be made once all the legal kinks were ironed out.

"The final part always has stipulations, bumps in the road, but it's gone pretty well," Favretto said of the buyout.

He said the Seekins people were very helpful and easy to work with, making the deal that much smoother.

"Ralph Seekins -- you couldn't ask for a more positive seller. (Margaret Russell, general manager of the Fairbanks Seekins Ford), the same way. They've been really great to work with," Favretto said.

Russell said Seekins was motivated to sell out of a desire to do what was best for his family and business.

"There were no negative motivations or drivers. It was really a positive move for him in the family business," Russell said. "Mr. Seekins made the decision to simplify his life on a personal level."

Favretto said he expects big things from the Soldotna Ford dealership.

"When we came to Kenai in 1996, this store had 7 million (dollars) in annual revenue. In 2001 we did 30 million in sales. I would expect that, based on Ford's market share, (the Soldotna dealership) should see rapid growth," he said.

Favretto noted that personnel changes at the Soldotna store were not in his plans. He said that when he met with a core group of Seekins employees two weeks ago, he got a very warm reception.

"There had been rumors going around. I went out there to dispel them," he said.

Favretto said that at the conclusion of the meeting, the Seekins employees actually applauded the new owner.

"That's never happened to me before," he said with a laugh.

Favretto said the only significant change at Seekins would be that Bob Bambace, an 11-year Alaska resident and former Daimler-Chrysler employee, will be brought in to serve as the Soldotna store's general manager and operating partner.

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