Auto business on the move: Volkswagen dealership opens, Subaru dealership moving

Duane Blair, a salesman at Grand Junction Volkswagen, shows off a SportWagen on display in the newly opened showroom of the dealership near the intersection of 24 and F 1/2 roads. 
The 17,500 square-foot building also houses a service department with genuine replacement parts and certified master technicians.
Duane Blair, a salesman at Grand Junction Volkswagen, shows off a SportWagen on display in the newly opened showroom of the dealership near the intersection of 24 and F 1/2 roads. 
The 17,500 square-foot building also houses a service department with genuine replacement parts and certified master technicians.

Phil Castle, The Business Times

In the 10 years Ron Bubar has owned an automobile dealership in Grand Junction,  sales have increased every year even as market share has grown by a factor of five.

Now Bubar finds himself in the midst of an expansion of a different sort in opening a Volkswagen dealership and soon moving his Subaru dealership to a brand new facility under construction next door.

Bubar attributes a decade of success to the appeal of the brands he sells in particular and what’s been in recent years an unleashing of pent-up demand for new vehicles in general. But he also praises a staff that delivers award-winning customer service. “I am very proud of the group that we have.”

Grand Junction Volkswagen opened in January in its new quarters at the intersection of 24 and F 1/2 roads.

The 17,500 square-foot building includes not only a spacious showroom, but also a service department stocked with genuine replacement parts and staffed by certified master technicians, Bubar says. “It’s a very nice, very modern facility.”

An even larger building under construction nearby will house Grand Junction Subaru.

At more than 8 acres, the new campus is not only four times larger than the comparatively cramped quarters along U.S. Highway 6 & 50, but also offers what Bubar considers a prime spot for the two dealerships. “It’s just a great location with more potential.”

The dealerships are located near the Mesa Mall, a grocery store and movie theater as well as what’s expected to be additional development along the 24 Road corridor, Bubar says. That’s not to mention the ease of access just off Interstate Highway 70.
“It seemed like the best place to be.”

That place constitutes the end result of several years of planning and then searching for a larger location, Bubar says.

The larger location also afforded Bubar the opportunity to open a Volkswagen dealership, the only one between Glenwood Springs and Salt Lake City.

There’s an advantage, he says, to bringing new automotive products to the local market, especially a brand that offers European styling and craftsmanship at an affordable price point. A brand new Jetta, for example, offers performance and handling at a price that’s less than what many models of used cars cost. The Passat, Tiguan and Beetle also are popular models, Bubar says.

Maintenance and repair constitute another part of the business, one which Bubar says he hopes to build in offering superior service to existing Volkswagen owners.

Bubar said he expects to relocate Grand Junction Subaru in April to the new and larger location that includes a 25,000 square-foot building that’s twice the size of the existing store.

The additional space also will accommodate a larger inventory of Subaru vehicles, he said. “That’s a big advantage for us.”

Having the Volkswagen and Subaru dealerships side by side will create what Bubar expects will be a synergy in promoting sales. If a Volkswagen doesn’t meet the needs of a customer, a Subaru could — and vice versa. “The staff is very keen on assessing and meeting needs.”

As for the existing facility on Highway 6 & 50, Bubar says he could leave the place vacant for a while, sell or lease it or potentially use the location for another business.

Bubar has owned Grand Junction Subaru since 2005. He purchased the dealership after working as a finance executive with General Motors and brings to the venture 26 years of experience in the automotive industry.

Sales at Grand Junction Subaru have increased every year over the past decade, Bubar said, even in the midst of the recession. What was a 3 percent market share in Mesa County for the dealership 10 years ago has grown into a 13 percent to 15 percent market share, he said.

Sales have increased in part because of the popularity of the Subaru brand, Bubar said.

Demand for new automobiles in general has increased in the aftermath of the recession as people look to replace aging cars, Bubar said. Low interest rates on car loans and easier access to credit has helped make that possible, he added.

By one estimate, sales of cars and light trucks in the United States climbed to a record 17.5 million in 2015, a 5.7 percent increase that topped the previous peak from 15 years ago.

Bubar also attributed the success of Grand Junction Subaru to the staff that works there in providing services that bolster sales.

In 2015, Grand Junction Subaru earned the DealerRater Consumer Satisfaction Award in recognition of good customer reviews posted on the DealerRater.com Web site. To earn the award, dealers must receive at least 25 reviews in a year with an average rating of at least four out of five.

“I take great pride in our staff,” Bubar said.

That staff has grown to 49 with the addition of the Volkswagen dealership.

It all bodes well for the continued success of the operation at a new and larger location, Bubar said.