Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Business

June 16, 2013

Car dealers’ delight

Dealerships, credit union notice bump in business this spring.

GOSHEN - Auto sales are going up nationwide and Elkhart County dealers are part of that rebound.

“Actually, I am well outperforming that trend,” said Scott Flake, general manager for Eby Ford in Goshen.

The trend Flake referred to is an improvement in sales nationwide that began in 2012 and for most months, continued through May. Autodata Corp., which provides statistical services to the auto industry, reported that vehicle sales in the United States were up 8 percent in May compared to May 2012. That percentage amounted to 1.4 million vehicles being sold. Of those, 173,972 were full-size pickups, according to Autodata.

Flake said Eby’s new vehicle sales were up 20 percent from May to May and are up 25 percent year-to-date. He credits the increase to the combination of an improving economy and Ford Motor Co. offering popular products.

“Ford has done a fantastic job of providing what people want to own instead of trying to sell what they want to build,” Flake said.

He believes the consumer trend is moving away from those who either have enough cash on hand not to worry about the slow economic recovery, or who have to buy a car because their current vehicle needs replaced.

“There certainly are people who are need buyers,” Flake said. “But with the quality of the vehicles today and the (incentive) programs available, people are taking advantage of the perfect buying storm.”

Low rates

A new car loan at Interra Credit Union in Goshen has an interest rate of as low as 2.49 percent. Such a low rate, plus an improving economy, has boosted the number of car loans at the credit union since mid-2012.

“We have seen a tremendous growth in auto loans,” said Phil Wiens, chief lending officer. “Not necessarily in the past couple months, but the past couple of years.”

He said the credit union had a 4 percent growth in auto loans in the first half of 2012, then the growth jumped to 7 percent in the second half. So far this year auto loan business has increased 8.73 percent, according to Wiens. The majority of those loans are for used cars, he said.

Why such growth?

“I think one of the biggest things is pent up demand,” Wiens said. “ They just delayed purchases.”

Elkhart County’s economy was devastated by the 2007 to 2009 recession. With about 40 percent of the county’s economy based on recreational vehicle manufacturing, when that industry teetered, thousands of jobs were lost.

Now the RV industry is rebounding, leading the county back to prosperity, and auto dealers believe the creation of RV factory jobs has helped build local consumer confidence.

“We are very optimistic,” said Dzung Nguyen, owner of Goshen Motors, a GMC, Buick and Hyundai dealership. “We don’t think the market is great, but it is much better than it was three to four years ago. The RV market is doing very well.”

He said his dealership’s sales gains this spring are close to the national figures and he is looking for qualified service technicians to fill openings.

“I wouldn’t say we are at pre-recession sales, but over the last two to three years it has tremendously improved,” Nguyen said.

He is optimistic about the future of local new car sales and is making a significant investment in modifying his dealership building to meet the new GMC facade and branding requirements.

And, he believes GMC’s new Sierra pickup, which has just gone into production, will be a big seller in coming months.

He said for automakers to introduce a new vehicle, such as the Sierra, they have to invest $1 to $2 billion.

“If your product is out more than three years without a refresh, you will be old,” he said. “It is no different than any other competitive business. You have to understand what your niche is and what your market is and you have to differentiate that.”

Like Flake, Mike Lowery at Lochmandy Motors in Elkhart, believes incentives from manufacturers are attracting customers.

“Part of the influx is the very competitive lease rates from manufacturers that we didn’t have before,” Lowery said.

And he said car loans are much easier to get than a few years ago.

Sales at the dealership have been about average, according to Lowery, but he has noticed an increase in interest in pickups.

“They (consumers) can pull their boats and RVs. That walks hand-in-hand with the RV market coming back,” Lowery said. “People who traded in their pickups trucks for higher mileage vehicles are perhaps rewarding themselves for what they went through a few years ago.”

 

1
Text Only
Business
  • BIZ GN140424 automakers china image Automakers scramble to woo young Chinese BEIJING -- At age 32, Jason Jia already is the kind of customer luxury automakers are seeking as competition grows in China's lucrative but crowded market. The energy industry consultant has traded up from a Volkswagen Polo to a VW GTI. Now, as he st

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • BIZ GN0424 infuse salon Infuse Salon relocates in Middlebury MIDDLEBURY — Infuse Salon in Middlebury has been around since 2009, under new ownership since 2012 and recently launched a website that allows customers to book appointments online. So Monday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony at the salon’s location along U

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Seed corn company expanding Howe facility HOWE — An agriculture company will invest $4 million to expand its local facility. Acccording to the LaGrange County Economic Development Corp., Gro Alliance will add a warehouse and six new corn dryers to its seed corn operation near Howe. Additiona

    April 22, 2014

  • BIZ GN0423 economy image Spring lifts U.S. economy WASHINGTON — Spring's thaw is reviving the economy, too. A recent batch of government and business reports show a U.S. economy emerging from winter's deep freeze. Economists had expected the growth to accelerate in 2014 after two years of slow and

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS GN140421 jobless rate Elkhart County jobless rate drops to 5.8 percent

    Elkhart County’s jobless rate dropped below 6 percent last month, according to figures released today by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
    The March unemployment rate for the county was estimated at 5.8 percent, compared to the February estimate of 6.2 percent and the March 2013 figure of 8.3 percent.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • BIZ GN0421 digital life review image Windows Phone advances with 8.1 update NEW YORK -- Microsoft's new Windows system for smartphones addresses many of the shortcomings in previous versions. Before, voice search lacked the natural language interactions of Apple's Siri and Google Now. The updated Windows Phone system has Cor

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • BIZ GN140421 small business image Mentors help minority companies NEW YORK -- Mel Gravely says his construction company might not exist today if he didn't have mentors to guide it. Gravely's company, TriVersity, joined a program called a minority business accelerator even before he bought a controlling interest in

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • BIZ GN0420 car talk image Beetle marks 65th year since entry into U.S. Sixty-five years after the first Volkswagen Beetle arrived in the United States as a distinctively shaped, little car, the Beetle keeps attracting buyers with its more-spacious-than-ever, flexible interior, turbo engine power and modernized iconic lo

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • BIZ GN0420 tech talk image Mistakes businesses make with their home page Mistakes businesses make with their home page

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ben's Pretzels adds three franchises GOSHEN — Ben’s Soft Pretzels will open three new franchised pretzel bakeries in the next 45 days. According to the company, leases have been signed and construction has begun on the stores. The Madison, Wis. location will be in the West Towne Mall. T

    April 18, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Poll

There has been discussion at West Goshen Elementary School to require mandatory student uniforms in the future. How do you feel about the prospect of mandatory student uniforms in a public school environment?

I think it’s an excellent idea that is way overdue
I think it’s a bad idea and would be restrictive for students and parents.
     View Results