Thunder Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Celebrates Ground Breaking Ceremony For New Dealership Facility
by James Coulter
Thunder Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram recently broke ground for a new state-of-the-art facility that will more than double the dealership’s size and selection when it opens next year.
The current facility, constructed in 1989, stands at 13,000 square feet. The new facility, which will replace the old facility at the same location, will be more than twice the size at 36,000 square feet.
Aside from housing a larger vehicle selection, the new facility will also expand services to customers with its new service and parts departments. These departments will include three service lanes, 23 repair bays, and an inventory of stocked parts worth an estimated $850,000, according to a press release.
The state-of-the-art facility will not only offer better service to customers, but a much more hospitable work environment for its employees, especially it service technicians, explained Richard Bishop, General Manager.
“We will be modern, new, upgraded, and air-conditioned,” he said. “In today’s marketplace, when you have 20 to 25 technicians trying to work in Florida heat in a metal enclosure, it is just catastrophic, so a new store will have fans and air-conditioning and more windows.”
The new facility is being constructed to help meet greater demand from customers, offering them a larger selection of vehicles and services. The refurbishment is part of a move to help enhance the image of Jeep, which has become the number one brand name in the world next to Coke, Bishop said. As such, the new facility will feature a separate showroom for Jeep vehicles.
“The other dealerships are trying to individualize and make a separate showroom for just Jeep customers,” Bishop said. “We will be the first one to build that new image. So our store will be one store, but one store will exclusively for Jeep, and that is a Chrysler first.”
Thunder Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram officially kicked off the construction of the new building with a groundbreaking ceremony hosted on Wednesday morning by the Bartow Chamber of Commerce. The ceremony drew in a large crowd of business owners and city officials, including Bartow Mayor Leo E. Longworth.
Bishop was quite impressed by the turnout, which more than exceeded his expectations. He had never been involved with a groundbreaking ceremony before, so he did not know exactly what to expect from it. As such, the turnout more than impressed him, he said.
“There were quite a few people here,” he said. “I lost track of how many came in, but a lot of people were serious.”
Thunder Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram has previously been under the management of its original owner, Tom Edwards, whose family had owned it for the past 41 years. Wanting to retire, Edwards sold the store to Bishop two years ago since December.
“I’m a Florida boy who was stuck in Georgia and I wanted to come to Florida, so this was an opportunity for me and we took advantage of it,” Bishop said.
Bishop learned that the store had outgrown its current building, so he decided to expand his business by acquiring an additional eight acres of land with plans to construct a newer, larger facility, he said.
“What I expect to get out of it is a good relationship with the community and city because we are all one,” he said. “If we are serving the community right, then you build right, and give want they are supposed to have. Don’t make them leave to another place to do it. It is like a hotel or restaurant. If you don’t have hotels or restaurants, they will go to another town and do it. That is my opinion, so this investment was the right thing to do.”
Thunder Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram is located at 1425 West Main Street, Bartow FL, 33830. For more information, call 863-533-0793, or visit their website at: https://www.thunderchrysler.com/