There's a Chevrolet dealership that's new to Avon, but not to Lorain County. And business has gotten off to a quick start.
Joe Firment Chevrolet opened its doors in a shiny new facility on Chester Road in Avon on Sept. 10, leaving its Lorain home after 31-plus years. The Firment family made the move with mixed emotions.
"Very sad," said co-vice president Jim Firment, who runs the dealership with his brother Paul. "Our family was there for a long, long time. It was considered our home. And to move out of there, I gotta tell you, it was kind of sad."
"Now that we're here it's very exciting to be here in a new store," Firment said. "Everything is brand new, it is so nice." The showroom still has that "new car" smell – in part because it's full of new cars. The showroom and spacious lot hold about 325 new cars and roughly 175 used cars in inventory.
Firment said the decision to move originated with General Motors. "It was a GM decision. They've always wanted us to be more visible."
And visible it is. The vast lot can be seen from Chester Road and from I-90. And being right next door to Joyce Buick-GMC creates more of an auto dealership campus environment. "It's nice to have Joyce as a neighbor," Firment said. "There's almost literally a thousand cars between us. The more the merrier."
"It is nice being able to display everything," Firment said. "At our old facility, we were so tight in the facility and also in displaying all of the vehicles. It's so nice having everything in the wide open. It's almost like having two front yards."
"Once they reorganized (in the wake of the Great Recession), we got a letter saying, Hey, now is your time, we'd like you to move. We've owned this property for about eight years; this has been in the works for a long time. When they came out with the reorganization, it was time to go, according to General Motors. So that's what we did."
The Firment dealership moved the entire staff to the new location, and even added "four or five" new staff members. "Hopefully we can add even more as we go (ahead)," Firment said.
Firment wouldn't disclose the cost of the new facility, but he believes the investment will pay off.
"Already we've seen a huge increase in traffic, we really have. We've seen probably three times the amount of traffic that we've ever seen as a dealership. It's been kind of nice."
"We had a great first week. We weren't expecting that. The first day when we came in, we weren't really expecting anything. By 8 o'clock in the morning, the service lane was full," Firment said. "By 10 o'clock we had already sold a car.
"It was much more than we expected the first week."
Franchise founder Joe Firment is officially "retired," but he makes frequent appearances. Jim Firment said Dad tried the golf thing, but got too restless. "This is his hobby."