Park Auto Group

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Park Auto Group adds Subaru franchise

Park Auto Group has added another Japanese brand — Subaru — to go along with the new Mazdas, Hondas and Acuras it sells at its campus off South Arlington Road at Interstate Parkway.
The Green-based business recently completed buying the Subaru franchise from what is now the former K.O. Subaru in Springfield Township, Park Auto executives said.
Bruce Kaufman, the owner of K.O., just across the Akron city line on Canton Road, said he was told by Subaru that he needed to sell the franchise. He acquired the Subaru franchise in 1973, making him the second Subaru dealer in Ohio.
Family-owned K.O. will remain in business as K.O. Motors, selling used cars and trucks and new motor scooters while also continuing to service vehicles, including Subarus, Kaufman said.
Park Auto Group and Kaufman did not disclose terms of the deal.
The move also means Park Auto Group is hiring — no mean feat in today's recession. The company says it needs three to five more sales people and service technicians.
''We were looking to expand. Our company is very big on growth,'' said Jim Corra, corporate trainer and head of human resources. Park Auto Group has close to 200 people on its payroll, including 10 to 15 part-timers, he said.
Jason Bass, Park Auto Group's new car and finance director, said talks had been going on for about a year with K.O. Subaru about buying the franchise.
''We always keep an eye open for a good opportunity,'' Bass said.
Subaru is a good brand to mix with Park's other new vehicles, he said. Subarus will be sold in what is currently Park Auto Group's Mazda dealership building, he said.
''Business has been very tough lately. But it's been better for us than the majority,'' Bass said. ''In tough times there are also opportunities.''
K.O. Motors owner Kaufman said Park Auto Group treated him well in the Subaru negotiations.
''I think they're very fair,'' the 81-year-old said.
But he said Subaru forced him to sell the franchise in large part because the automaker didn't like his Canton Road location and wanted a lot more monthly sales.
K.O. Subaru was selling between eight and 10 new Subarus a month and the automaker wants dealers that can sell 100 vehicles a month, he said.
Subaru initially wanted him to move to a new site off Arlington Road, but Kaufman said that would have cost him as much as $5 million, including buying land at $100,000 an acre and having to put up a new building. He said Subaru vetoed his counterproposal that he remodel his existing location.
''They wanted to be out there with all the new car dealers,'' Kaufman said. ''They want you there with the big shots. ... I just said the heck with it. I'm not going to do it.''
Instead, Kaufman said he and his sons will focus on selling used vehicles and motor scooters.
The dealership previously had new Chrysler, Jeep and Saab franchises in addition to Subaru.
Kaufman said while he has had to let some employees go after selling the Subaru franchise, the business still has long-time Subaru- and Chrysler-certified technicians on staff.
''We are still going to do service work on Subarus. We just can't do warranty [work],'' he said. K.O. Motors can service all makes as well, he said.
Park Auto Group will do all right with Subaru and their customers, Kaufman said. ''They treated me good.''