SANTA ROSA — Hansel Auto Group is into the final stages of its $20 million overhaul of its Corby Avenue auto row dealership campus at the south end of the city.
The shine has been put on new showrooms for BMW, Volkswagen and Subaru brands, an expanded and modernized parts center, new service centers for BMW and for the other two brands and a new eight-bay drive-through detail center for staging cars and for customers coming in for service. Plans for an expanded Collision Care Center just behind Hansel’s six Santa Rosa dealerships are still being hammered out, but it is expected to be open by Nov. 1, according to Henry Hansel, head of Hansel Auto Group (hanselauto.com).
“When people come in to buy a car, I want them to have an experience unlike any other in Northern California,” he said.
These dealerships add to existing ones for Acura, Ford, Lincoln and Mazda on the auto row.
In late August, the BMW showroom and service center opened with tile floors, museum-themed furnishings and home theater-style 70-inch widescreen TV and audio in the waiting room. Gary Whitfield of Dana Point in Orange County developed the design theme for the new dealerships.
The new Subaru showroom was configured to appeal to the outdoors-related interests of typical buyers of those all-wheel-drive vehicles, Mr. Hansel said.
“The typical buyer is also a dog owner and bicyclist,” he said. So the accessory store has items for dogs and cycling.
The parts center got a major overhaul, with a two-story storefront and defined portions of the store separately designed for the BMW, VW, Subaru and Acura brands. The goal was to create not just a wholesale parts store but also an upscale retail environment akin to what would be found in shops around San Francisco’s Union Square, according to Mr. Hansel.
“I wanted to give it more of a wow factor,” he said.
The new body shop is set to have 20 service bays in 8,265 square feet at 2966 Coors Ct. The current center has 5,000 square feet now. Auto body work is up 20 percent from a year ago and is expected to total $1.5 million this year. The sales projection with the expansion is $2 million in 2014. Signs of an improving economy are behind the growth, Mr. Hansel speculated.
A major feature of the new facility is a 27-foot-long, $100,000 paint booth designed and to be installed by Construction 1 RFC of Escalon. The Italian-made booth has computer controls from Spokane, Wash., that allow accurate room-pressure control, despite how clogged the air filters are, according to Ron Fowzer, who heads the company.
“We went from everyone hunkering down and keeping the insurance money for damage to not only repairing damage but also getting minor repairs done for pride of ownership,” he said.
Hansel Auto Group also operates four dealerships in Petaluma.
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