UPDATED — More than four years after first discussing a possible move, Scholfield Auto Plaza is preparing to break ground on a new luxury auto dealership near the northwest corner of 13th and Greenwich.
President and managing partner Bobby Cuillo says the new showrooms within the newly named Wichita Luxury Collection, A Member of the Scholfield Automotive Group are going on 17 acres behind Home Bank & Trust.
“They’re not going to be over-the-top or ostentatious, but there will be a tremendous amount of thoughtful touches,” Cuillo says. “No detail will be left out.”
Currently, the Lexus dealership is in 16,000 square feet at 11220 E. Kellogg. Next door, Mercedes-Benz, Acura, Porsche and Jaguar share a 30,000-square-foot showroom at 11212 E. Kellogg.
“We’ve outgrown these facilities,” Cuillo says.
The new Lexus showroom will be 26,000 square feet.
Mercedes-Benz is now going to have its own 26,000-square-foot showroom, which will be built at the same time as the Lexus showroom.
“You can see the growth that they’ve projected,” Cuillo says of Mercedes-Benz.
Within two to four years, two other new buildings will be built next to the Lexus and Mercedes-Benz showrooms. Acura most likely will have its own space, and Jaguar and Porshe will share a space.
“From an interruption standpoint … it’s easier to bite off a little at a time,” Cuillo says.
“It just makes better sense.”
Cuillo says construction may start in August, but it could be a little later. “Certainly before the year is out.”
The new showrooms will be across the intersection from Scholfield Buick GMC, which is going on the southwest corner.
In the Lexus dealership, there will be a putting green and a multiuse room for cooking demonstrations and salon and spa treatments. Cuillo says he’ll establish partnerships with vendors who can offer his customers diversions while they wait for their cars to be serviced. He does some of that now, but Cuillo says, “This will be on a much grander scale.”
In both dealerships, there will be glass walls at the service areas so customers can watch their cars getting serviced.
Cuillo says building separate showrooms “obviously puts the focus on one brand.”
“Right now in a shared environment we have great success,” he says. If customers don’t find what they want with one brand, they can easily look at another, he says.
“That’s a good thing.”
The bad thing, Cuillo says, is it’s difficult to have a separated sales staff focusing on individual brands.
The company sells on average about 500 new Lexus vehicles a year, more than 300 new Mercedes-Benz vehicles and more than 300 Acuras. The dealership also sells pre-owned cars.
“We’ve had tremendous growth in the last four years,” Cuillo says.
He says when the recession hit, other dealerships tightened their belts.
“We continued marketing, and we added numerous amenities and services.”
That includes free pick-up and delivery of vehicles for servicing, an expanded and upgraded fleet of loaner cars, free airport shuttles and a free service that washes customers’ vehicles at their homes or offices.
Cuillo says the extras have paid off.
“Now is when it’s paid dividends … as our industry is returning,” he says.
Cuillo says each of the dealership’s brands win coveted customer service awards every year.
“We always rank in the top.”
He says Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Acura account for more than 60 percent of the luxury auto business in the Wichita metropolitan area.
“From a market share standpoint, we really control the market with those three brands,” Cuillo says. “We’ve grown that. It wasn’t always that way. … We have taken it now, obviously, to a whole other level.”
Cuillo says the company has been awarded another dealership as well.
“We are one of less than 100 markets in the country that have been awarded the Sprinter franchise.”
Sprinter is a Mercedes-Benz van.
“They also have a luxury slant on them as well,” Cuillo says.
He says they’re large, multipurpose vehicles that easily fit into parking spaces yet inside are “no different than a tour bus for a rock star.”
Cuillo, who is now an equal partner in the dealership with Vic Scholfield, Tom Devlin and Steve Hatchett, announced the company’s news to his 86 employees at a Tuesday meeting at the Wichita Country Club.
He presented each employee with a brick that will be engraved with their names and included in a pathway near a water feature and some landscaping between the new showrooms.
“That was fun for me as an operator,” Cuillo says.
“They’re on the path to our shared future together.”