By DAN HEATH
---- — PLATTSBURGH — The new Della Toyota dealership on Della Drive in the Town of Plattsburgh was on display during a grand opening event this week.
Della Automotive Group President Michael Della Bella said he has been humbled by the support of the various partners who helped make the project a success.
“This day marks another milestone in our commitment to the community we do business in,” he said.
The showroom is spacious and bright, with large banks of windows and tile floors. It is easy to navigate, with clear signage that provides direction to each department or area.
Della Toyota General Manager Tom Gilbert led a group of local officials, project partners and Toyota representatives on a tour of the facility. He said that at 25,000 square feet, it is the largest Toyota dealership in the North Country.
The service area starts with a drive-in check-in station. Gilbert said they thought it best to have the service advisers and their computers in the bay to greet the customers.
The area is coated with a non-stick, high traction floor sealant for safety and ease of cleaning. The color was designed to give customers an appearance of red-carpet treatment.
Once they have checked in, customers can visit the lounge and waiting area, with beverages, popcorn and a flat-screen television. There is also a separate area for those with children, with another television to watch programming aimed at the younger population.
“We have a wonderful service lounge for our customers,” Gilbert said.
Area could expand
The service area has 14 bays, Gilbert said, but could be expanded to 18 if the need arises. Della Toyota had five automotive technicians at its previous location on Route 9 in Plattsburgh, a number that is expected to increase to 14 or 15 at the new location.
Two of the bays are dedicated to express service, such as oil changes or tire rotations.
The dealership even has its own automatic car wash on the east side of the building.
The Parts Department is at least twice the size at the previous dealership, Della Bella said.
Della Toyota/Scion was designed to be environmentally friendly.
“We are a green facility. All of our furnaces run on waste oil heat,” Gilbert said.
He said they are also taking part in the Power of Three recycling program offered by Casella Waste Systems. Gilbert said they recycle approximately 85 percent of what comes into the dealership.
Inventory is on the lot to the north of the building, with about 240 cars and trucks at present. There are usually 100 to 150 new cars and 60 to 100 used cars.
There is a 1,200-square-foot delivery center where customers can take possession of their new vehicle. Della Bella said it makes for a more comfortable atmosphere for the final delivery process, with a indoor space to sit down and go over the final details in a climate controlled atmosphere.
The employee lounge and sales team bullpen are on the north end of the building. Gilbert said it provides a secure location for confidential customer information and keeps the showroom less cluttered and quieter.
Following the tour, Toyota New York Region General Manager Alec Hagey presented Della Bella and his wife, Carmen, with a Toyota President’s Award for 2011. He said the award is an indication of a dealership’s teamwork and commitment to customer satisfaction.
Hagey said Della Toyota is on pace to receive the award again for 2012.
He also presented the Della Bellas with a ceremonial katana, the swords favored by samurai warriors in Japan. Hagey said the swords represent loyalty, justice, respect, pride and honor, and it was considered a great honor to receive one from an ally.
“On behalf of Toyota of the New York Region, we’d like to present you with this katana,” he said.
The new dealership has been well received by the employees.
“They are very enthusiastic about it. They’re very excited to come to work,” Della Bella said.
Della Automotive Group acquired the former Garrands Toyota/Scion in 2009.
The new dealership brings all of the Della Automotive Group’s Plattsburgh-area businesses to one complex near the intersection of Route 3 and Military Turnpike.
Della Bella founded the Della Automotive Group in 1983 when he bought Bob Clarke Pontiac in Queensbury. The group expanded with Christopher Chevrolet-Buick-Pontiac in Ticonderoga in 1987.
Della Honda opened in Plattsburgh in 1996, followed by Della Oldsmobile-Cadillac-GMC in Queensbury and Della Honda in Glens Falls in 1999. Dela Suzuki and Della Motorsports opened in Plattsburgh in 2006.
Della Bella said the Della Automotive Group and its employees have always been community oriented. They have contributed to a number of local charities, and Toyota has matched those contributions for the last two years.
Impact on town
Town of Plattsburgh Supervisor Bernie Bassett said he was impressed by how much the new dealership raises the bar once again. The impact goes beyond just jobs, he said.
“It has a lot to do with the fabric of the community. We thank you for your faith in this community,” Bassett said.
Work on the new dealership started late last year. Robert M. Sutherland, PC, was the project engineer and Engineering and Design Associates created the site plan.
Conroy and Conroy was the general contractor/construction manager. Conroy and Conroy estimator Ron Nolland said subcontractors included local firms Robbie Tripp, Plattsburgh Paving, Corrado Concrete/Luck Brothers, Plattsburgh Quarries, Deso Concrete, J&S Steel, North Country Garage Doors, Johnson Protective Coatings, We’re Tops, Curtis Lumber, Sample Lumber, Lake Champlain Roofing, Freedom Fence, Frank Pravada, Frank Dashnaw, Bob’s Instant Plumbing, ET Harris, Ace Electric and PrimeLink.
“I think the builders did a really good job Della Bella said.
Email Dan Heath: firstname.lastname@example.org