EAST COUNTY — For Jim Gettel, the owner of 14 car dealerships statewide, location is key.
To keep his business booming, the owner of Gettel Automotive Group constantly looks for cities bustling with customers looking for cars, or up-and-coming areas, he said.
Gettel thinks longterm, studying how successful an area has been before he buys into it a new location. He also considers its potential.
Such characteristics prompted Gettel’s latest project in East County — the move of Hyundai of Bradenton, currently located at 2503 First St., to just outside Lakewood Ranch.
“With the close proximity to the interstate, and the widening of State Road 64, (the dealership) will be more convenient to get to,” Gettel said.
Construction started earlier this month to prepare the six-acre lot next to Toyota of Lakewood, located at 5959 State Road 64 E., Bradenton, which will soon house the transferred Hyundai dealership.
Crews are working on the foundation of the property, which will require more than 4 feet of dirt to level the lot with the adjacent one.
Hyundai of Bradenton also will change its name to Hyundai of Lakewood upon its opening Dec. 1 in the East County.
The Gettel Supercenter, located at 2601 First St., Bradenton, will remain open.
The plan to move the dealership across Manatee County has been in the works since Gettel opened his Toyota of Lakewood store in December 2012.
Gettel opened Hyundai of Bradenton two years earlier, in 2010, and always had a plan to move the location to Lakewood Ranch, said Ellen Walther, public relations manager for Toyota of Lakewood.
“We chose here because it’s such a growing area,” Walther said. “It’s growing leaps and bounds.”
Gettel hopes the move will prove more convenient for the growing number of customers who live in Sun City, Walther said.
On a larger scale, Gettel also expects to make a footprint in the East County business community.
It hopes the new dealership and its location next to its sister store will boost the sale numbers of both businesses, Gettel said.
He sees his new project as a corridor for attracting new car buyers to the area — ones who may travel next door to Toyota if they don’t see what they want at Hyundai.
Then, maybe those customers will go across the street to a restaurant for dinner, further boosting the local economy.
Gettel said he plans to hire 15 new employees for the new store. Some of the workers from the First Street location also will transfer to the new 33,000-square-foot location, as well.
The new space will have 18 air-conditioned service bays (compared with 12 at the existing location) and will be air conditioned. Those changes will make the locaiton more comfortable for customers and employees.
“This (dealership) will provide a better place to get service and will be a better place to work,” Gettel said.
Hyundai Lakewood’s building may appear similar in design and purpose to its sister store, but, Walther said, Gettel will maintain a separation between the products offered at each dealership.
“Customers will always like what they like,” Walther said. “We’ll sell different cars, and there will be a different client base. We won’t push for customers to go from one dealership to the other, but the option is there.”
BY THE NUMBERS
33,000 — The number (in square feet) of the new Hyundai Lakewood facility.
18 — The number of service bays the new dealership will feature.
15 — The number of new employees to be hired at the new dealership.
14 — The number of constructed Gettel dealerships in the state.
6 — The number of acres of the Hyundai of Lakewood lot.
Contact Amanda Sebastiano at [email protected].