By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN After 10 months of construction, Holt Motors Ford dealership in Cokato is ready to unveil its new showfloor.
More than two years ago, Holt Motors decided to move ahead with Ford’s new plans for its dealers, which would update the showfloor and eventually provide a uniform look among its dealerships, explained owner Greg Holt.
Eighteen months ago, Holt signed a contract with Ford to do just that. This would allow Holt to use Ford’s designs and layout, while incorporating the old store.
Instead of demolishing the existing showfloor, which was built in 1967 under the ownership of his father, Ralph, Greg wanted to honor his father by recycling whatever material he could.
“We took everything apart and recycled [all the materials], right down to the wiring,” Greg said.
In its place is a new, larger 9,500-square foot showfloor that incorporates sales and service write-up areas, and parts pick-up.
This allows customers to access the parts and service departments without leaving the showfloor floor, Greg commented.
The architect on the project was Greg’s son-in-law, Kojo Boadi-Aboagye of Infinite Group working in conjunction with Ford Motor Company to follow the design concept.
In addition, it was important to Greg to work with local contractors on the project.
“We’ve had just an absolute great bunch of contractors,” he said, adding that they all are from within a 35-mile radius.
For the employees at Holt Motors, Friday was move-in day, which brought relief after spending 10 months doing business out of trailers.
“It will be so nice to get out of the trailers,” commented Kevin Nelson, sales representative with Holt Motors.
He is also excited to work in the new building.
“It will be an awesome place to sell vehicles,” he commented, adding, that the facility is so much more modern now.
As of last Saturday, the newly constructed showfloor is open and ready to be viewed by the public.
The building process was not without challenges, however, setting the project back three months. Had it all gone according to plan, the building would’ve been ready in December, Greg noted.
The first delay was due to soil borings that showed the ground was not conducive for building the intended structure.
Looking for a variety of ways to correct it, they chose what was both economically viable and what wouldn’t disrupt the standing structure that housed the service and parts departments.
Therefore, the building sits on 120 stilts 40 feet deep keeping it structurally sound.
Steel for the building provided another setback, Greg noted.
Delivery of the steel was originally estimated at three months upon ordering.
Due to the economic recovery, there was a greater demand for steel delaying delivery for six weeks.
New and improved
In addition to the Ford design, Greg was able add some of his own personal touches to the building; ideas he stumbled across at other dealerships.
For example, customers buying new vehicles will be able to drive them right off the show floor through the two-stall garage doors located on the west side of the showfloor.
This area allows the sales representative to help the new owner familiarize themselves with the vehicle’s features inside, out of the elements.
Also, customers of the service and Quick Lane departments, have the option of watching their vehicle as it’s serviced from the luxury of the showfloor.
There are nine sales offices designed to provide an open environment in order to not make customers feel pressured in any way, Greg explained. This is also true of the private offices used for consultations and discussing finance options.
There is also a service manager’s office where customers can sit down with a consultant to discuss service maintenance contracts or planning a major repair.
The reception area remains on the east side of the building. However, there are three other entrances to the building that can be utilized as well, including the service and Quick Lane entrance at the north side of the showfloor. The parts department can be accessed on the west side of the building.
Also new to the design is a sizable waiting area with a modern fireplace, along with a private play area for kids.
In addition, the entire show floor is now handicapped-accessible, including the new restrooms, built to Ford standards.
Seeing how it all has come together, “It makes me smile,” Greg said.
Although a grand opening won’t be planned until warmer weather, Greg invites the public to stop in and check out the new showfloor.
Hours are: 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.