BRADENTON - It's a new era, a new name and a new car for a Tampa teenager.
|Taylor Bidelman, 16, of Tampa, took delivery of his first car on Tuesday, a 2009 Dodge Avenger, at the former Bob Boast Dodge dealership.|
Otherwise, on Tuesday it was business as usual for Volkswagen Bradenton, formerly Bob Boast Volkswagen Dodge. Some salesmen scanned the lot for browsers as others negotiated with potential customers across wooden desks.
But all of the Dodge vehicles had been moved to the outskirts of the lot and the Dodge signage had been draped with temporary VW logos.
Franchise owner Jim Keedy said it is unfortunate to lose the value that the Dodge dealership offered, but also said he is excited about a new beginning.
"We're a lot luckier than a lot of dealers that have been terminated," Keedy said. "We're looking forward to moving forward."
Keedy said the business decided to drop the Bob Boast name because it makes it easier for online clients and those searching phone book listings to find their location. Those potential customers who are searching for a Volkswagen dealership in Bradenton, but might not be familiar with the Bob Boast name, will now be able to search and locate the dealership with ease.
"The Boast name is a great name," he said. "We're not making any secret of the fact ... that the Boast name still owns the business."
General Manager Todd Lee left for Orlando on Tuesday to attend a factory sale. He said he hopes to bring back 10 to 20 more Dodge vehicles, all with less than 10,000 miles on the odometer, for his loyal Dodge customers.
The cars and trucks he brings back will be sold at Automall Bradenton, the pre-owned side of the lot that will be expanded to offer more used cars and trucks.
Keedy said that he planned to keep only four of the 37 remaining Dodge vehicles on the lot. The rest will be shipped to other dealers.
Since mid-May, the unstable economy has forced the dealership to cut five more jobs, bringing their staff to 42 people.
Lee said his current Dodge sales staff is going to be folded into the Volkswagen family. Dodge salespeople will receive product training so they can sell Volkswagen products.
|Dodge salesman Scott Betti was able to make one final sale before the switchover. He uses a screwdriver to remove a dealer plate on Taylor Bidelman's new 2009 Dodge Avenger.|
Scott Betti has been a Dodge salesman for the past year and a half. He said he had sold a few Volkswagens, but out of the 130 vehicles he's sold in that time period, about 125 have been Dodge cars or trucks.
"It's a whole different car, a whole different ballgame, a whole different kind of customer, too," he said. "They're very knowledgeable."
Betti said he feels fortunate that the dealership had the Volkswagen name to rely on during these turbulent times.
"I'd be out of a job, so we're lucky we have Volkswagen to fall back on, but it's definitely going to be a challenge," he said.
Betti, like other Dodge salespeople at the dealership, is in the process of obtaining his Volkswagen certification. He said he will be required to attend classes in Orlando or take certification classes online, and also attend a test-drive facility.
Betti made one final Dodge sale Tuesday afternoon to 16-year-old Taylor Bidelman, a student at Freedom High School in Tampa. Taylor drove down with his mother, father and sister to take advantage of the close-out deals. He left the lot with a metallic-blue, 2009 Dodge Avenger - his first car.
"We knew they were getting rid of all their Dodges by the end of tonight, and we knew there were going to be a lot of good deals, so we drove down here from Tampa," Taylor said.
The Avenger is a gift for his 17th birthday on June 13.