The renovation and expansion at Maple Hill Auto Group in Kalamazoo is driven by strong consumer demand for vehicles. Courtesy Maple Hill Auto Group
A renovation and expansion project at a car dealership in the region might be a good sign for the auto industry.
Jim Vandenberg, the owner and general manager of Maple Hill Auto Group in Kalamazoo, said business is bursting at the seams at his headquarters and five showrooms, at 5622 W. Main St.
Demand and change
Vandenberg said the dealership began an approximately $3.5-million renovation and expansion project last fall, which is being done in phases into April, to keep up with demand.
The project will modernize and change the exterior and interior look of the 51,000-square-foot dealership and add about 10,000 square feet.
Vandenberg said that the dealership’s most recent years have been some of its strongest for sales.
“The car business is coming back very strong,” Vandenberg said. “I think it’s ahead of the rest of the economy in Michigan. The import business is extremely strong in Michigan.”
Vandenberg added that the project is “a big change to us.”
“Every part of our dealership is revved up,” he said. “Our competitors have upgraded, so we make sure if we’re going to do it, we need to push it to the limit. Car dealerships can get outdated pretty fast, so we have to keep up with it.”
As part of the project, the dealership hopes to add about six technicians, four to five salespeople and two advisors.
Bosch Architecture in Kalamazoo is serving as the project’s architect.
Cornerstone Construction Management in Portage is serving as the project’s contractor.
The project will demolish some of the space’s showrooms to build larger ones. The showrooms will feature more service bays.
The project will also add a carwash that will be free for customers.
“We tore down our existing Subaru and Volvo showrooms and are building a brand new Subaru showroom,” Vandenberg said. “It will move from a three-car showroom to a six-car showroom.
“Office space goes up. Service space goes up. We went from a one lane in, one lane out, to a three-lane service receptionary.”
The Subaru showroom should be completed by mid February, and the final showroom should be completed in April, along with the carwash.