BenzWorld Junior Member
Date registered: Aug 2002
Vehicle: 1998 ML320
Location: Lilburn, GA, USA
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Cool dealership in Atlanta area
This may have already been posted. From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
You've Benz wowed
New dealership is one of a kind
Don Fernandez - Staff
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
The towering billboard on I-85 has been teasing passers-by for months.
Bright blue, etched with the famous Mercedes symbol, it promised to complete the countless collection of car dealerships peppering Gwinnett County.
Come Monday, there will be nary a vehicle with four wheels not available inside the county.
"The growth is here," said Atlanta Classic Cars President Cathy Ellis. "We were landlocked in Decatur and had nowhere to go."
She certainly found a spacious new home.
Located on 19 acres, the $15 million dealership is nearly 100,000 square feet, boasting a bevy of high-tech advances and looks that are made to pop eyes --- and, perhaps, the presence of Mercedes-Benz in metro Atlanta --- wide open.
"We wanted a 'wow factor' here," said David Smith, general sales manager. "Mercedes-Benz did not like the penetration numbers in this area. It's the right place to set up a high-line store."
While new to Gwinnett, the dealership has solid roots locally. Atlanta Classic Cars opened in 1975 in Decatur and expanded until there wasn't an inch left to wiggle.
What makes the new location so unusual isn't the size, but the amenities.
There's a workout room, showers and a driving range with a putting green. Five acres of lush wetlands --- populated with deer and hawks --- buffer the green. A track will be built on the perimeter of the property.
The look of the place also boasts an edge. An interior designer crafted a slick, industrial interior, heavy on steel, concrete and glass.
It's an amalgamation of ideas Ellis picked up at various other dealerships, but the resulting product may be one of a kind.
"You have to give people a reason to come," Ellis said.
Why is such grandeur necessary? Well, the average service for a Mercedes-Benz is three hours. A mere oil change takes an hour and a half. Might as well get in a workout. Or stare at your car on a lift.
Within the waiting room is a tall row of windows hovering above the service area. From this vantage, customers can observe mechanics working on their automobiles. This amenity Smith has viewed as a mixed bag.
"It requires you to think on your toes," he said. "You don't want to be airing dirty laundry, but it might keep the work ethic at a high level."
Perhaps the most impressive facet of the facility is the service area itself. With the height and scope of an airplane hangar, the area can service 60 cars at once. The goal is to turn over 300 cars daily.
"There's nothing like this in the world," said shop foreman Robert Padovano, an employee for 19 years. "[A Mercedes] is a huge investment. Some say it's more important than their wife."
The demographics were ideal, Smith said, with certain pockets of Gwinnett reflecting the type of consumer the company actively seeks.
"We welcome them with open arms," said Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce President Richard Tucker. "I think it says a lot about the affluence and prosperity that has taken place here. It was a long time coming."
With less than a week remaining before formally opening, the dealership is tidying up loose construction ends. The scent of freshly applied paint wafts through the interiors. The workout room remains barren for now.
Ellis is slightly frazzled with the preparations, choosing to offer tours to visitors now before the frenzy that is expected next week.
It's the evolution in a legacy of sorts. Atlanta Classic Cars began as the business of her father, John Ellis Sr. He died in 1991. And what would he think of the facility?
"He would be dazzled, I hope," she said.
Scott in ATL
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