When Hendrick Toyota Scion of Apex opened last year, general manager John Futrell knew there would be some challenges in such a sluggish economy.
But Futrell never expected the natural obstacle that arose from the Pacific Ocean and struck Japan with such deadly force.
“We opened just as the tsunami struck Japan,” said Futrell. “It was the height of Toyota’s inventory shortage and we only had half the number of vehicles we were expecting. That was certainly a challenge.”
But not only did the dealership meet the challenge, it doubled in size over the next year and increased its number of employees from less than 70 to 145. Hendrick Toyota also sold the third highest amount of Toyotas in the Carolinas and was the top dealership in the district.
“We’ve exceeded our expectations,” said Futrell.
The resilient dealership held its grand opening Monday, complete with a visit from Rick Hendrick, the famed owner of NASCAR’s Hendrick Motorsports and the founder of the Hendrick Automotive Group.
The event was held later than most grand openings to accommodate Hendrick’s busy schedule.
“It is later than usual,” said Futrell. “We usually hold them about six months after we open. But Mr. Hendrick really wanted to be here and we had to work with his schedule.”
The visit seemed worth the wait for Hendrick, who praised the Town of Apex for being so accommodating in getting the dealership established.
“Just right down the street in Cary, they don’t want any dealerships,” said Hendrick. “It’s hard to get approval. Apex worked very hard. The mayor, Keith Weatherly, really went to bat for us. Town council (and) town planners helped us look for land. They tried to rezone land. They just could not have been better. I’ve never had a city council try so hard to get us in a market as they did here.”
And the Apex market was one that Hendrick Toyota certainly had its sights on for some time.
“This is a great market,” said Futrell. “There are great demographics in this area and there are many Toyota owners who used to drive all the way to Raleigh for service and parts. So, we are very happy to be here. Apex has been very good to us.”
The dealership also has been good for Apex. The auto group made a $23 million investment when it decided to build a 60,000-foot building on 15 acres of land in Laura Village just off U.S. 64.
There also is the potential of adding even more jobs to the 145 positions the dealership brought to town.
Hendrick believes the future is very bright for the Apex dealership. He points to the fact that Futrell left a successful dealership in Wilmington to manage the Apex location.
“Toyota is one of the strongest manufacturers on the planet,” said Hendrick. “They have a lot of resources, a lot of depth and a lot of cash. They come with a lot of products. When you look at Toyota and Lexus, they are two of the best brands out there.
“John has a lot of experience. He’s a very good manager, a very good leader. (The Wilmington) store did far more than it was ever capable of doing. To leave a store that was doing that well to come here took a lot of faith and guts. But I’m convinced that this dealership will be the number one volume store in the Carolinas in the next year.”
For more information visit www.toyotaofapex.com