‘We’ll be here for generations to come’
HEALDSBURG — The Silveira automobile dealership has survived six decades in business, including a shakeout of nearly 60 percent of General Motors dealerships nationwide, and is passing to third generation management and ownership.
In addition to the generational ownership transition is a recent $1 million remodel of the dealership showroom at 985 Healdsburg Ave. and gearing up the service center to handle hybrid and electric vehicles.
Jim Silveira, who started working at the dealership in 1966 and became owner in 1974, has started a 15-year transfer of company stock to his son Scott Silveira, vice president and sales manager. Part of the transition includes having GM last year transfer the role of dealer to Scott Silveira, who has been working at the dealership since 1986 and a partner since 1991.
“We survived the crunch from 2007 to 2010, and in 2011 to 2013 things turned around,” said Jim Silveira, 72. “We’ll be here for generations to come.”
His father moved to Healdsburg in 1951 and started the dealership in 1954. It moved to its current location in 1964.
Revenues from sales and service in 2013 were nearly $40 million. The dealership is the No. 3 GMC dealer in Northern California and No. 6 on the West Coast.
It’s also the No. 1 GMC commercial dealer in Northern California. With more than 120 wineries in a five-mile radius of Healdsburg, vintners and grape growers are major buyers of commercial vehicles, but fleet sales to other companies and governments is also significant.
In 2009 in the throes of the economic recession, GM dropped the Pontiac brand and slashed its roster of dealerships to plug the hemmorage of red ink that prompted a federal government bailout. Among the cut dealerships were ones in Santa Rosa, so the automaker wanted Silveira to relocate there. But as estimated costs for a dealership on the Corby Avenue auto row mounted, the manufacturer agreed to put money into remodeling the Healdsburg location.
Through GM’s “image” program, the cost of remodeling the showroom and customizing the look of where customers arrive and wait for service was 70 percent reimbursed.
“This sets us up to be the Buick GMC representative for Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties,” Jim Silveira said.
He will continue to be an officer of the S corporation that runs the dealership and plans to continue coming into the office.
“I will take a little more time off,” he said.
Michael Labrett of Healdsburg was the general contractor for the remodeling project.
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