Tony Stanley's nearly remodeled car dealership in Kenai gives new meaning to the motto "the customer is always right."
In the case of the new Ford dealership and service center, "the customer should always relaxed and happy" needs to be added to that phrase.
"Our theme of the new store certainly had everything to do with customer service," said Stanley, the owner, said in his Soldotna office Tuesday. "We're making the strides to make people understand we want them in our facilities and we want them to be comfortable in our facilities."
This means the renovated Stanley dealership in Kenai will include drive-in service lanes, a remodeled customer lounge area with a "cry room" for children, and a continental breakfast bar with cereal and waffles.
"Get your oil changed and have breakfast on us," Stanley said.
What began earlier this year as a modest spruce up turned into a major investment -- in the business and the local economy.
Larry Floyd, who oversees the building department at the City of Kenai, said that the substantial remodel at Stanley Ford includes 1,420 square feet in additions on top of minor, cosmetic changes. The dealership took out a building permit for its changes and values the renovations that needed a permit at $450,000.
But according to Stanley himself, it's a multi-million dollar project.
There is another new thing about the Kenai dealership -- Fords. The former Stanley Chrysler store is being remolded to fit the needs of Ford Motor Company and switching places with Soldotna.
"Ford wanted us to update facilities and we felt we could breathe some new life in the store over in Kenai," Stanley said.
So the dealership is first taking care of Ford with a remodeled store in Kenai and then turning its attention over to a Chrysler store in Soldotna. Stanley said they will either remodel the Soldotna dealership or build a new one altogether after the Kenai store is up and running.
"Ford goes to Kenai, Chrysler goes to Soldotna so neither community loses out on tax dollars and revenue," he said.
And the rumors about Chrysler nearly closing down in Kenai were somewhat true, Stanley confirmed.
"We were at a point where we were going to shut down Chrysler totally," he said, but "we just didn't want to leave people hanging."
"We also want to let our Chrysler customers know we're here to service them," Stanley added.
The key to that service is within the renovation. Both dealerships are some 40 years old and the facilities just could not accommodate customers.
Stanley said the old facilities had a hard time keeping up with vehicle service, but that won't be a problem at Stanley Ford in Kenai because they're hiring new employees.
He estimates the store will hire some 14 new employees in Kenai and have some 30 full-time workers once it's open at the beginning of next year.
Stanley said he employed all local contractors on the project except one worker who is the son of one of the local contractors.
"It was pretty much a local effort and we're pretty proud of that," he said.
Pat Porter, Kenai mayor, said that she thinks that Stanley Ford will be good for the community and economy.
"I think that Stanley Ford would not be making that commitment to the community if they did not think it was a positive move," she said. "I'm pleased they recognized the potential of this community."
Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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