More than three years ago, Richard Webb and his wife, Jennifer, moved from Dallas to Kansas City after purchasing an Infiniti dealership. At the time, his plan was to remodel the store situated in the 103rd and State Line area.
Webb recalled that West Frontage Road on the east side of I-35 at 67th street in Merriam was vacant at that time. One dealership, which now is Shawnee Mission Hyundai, was a little less than a mile south of the location, but no other car dealerships were present.
Oh, how things have changed in the last three years. Road construction work off 67th street was finished just more than a year ago, complete with a round-about to handle the increased traffic necessary for the three new dealerships.
One is Infiniti of Kansas City, which is right next door to Hendrick Lexus Kansas City. And the first auto dealership you see when you make the left turn off 67th onto West Frontage Road is Hendrick Toyota Scion.
Based on customer feedback, Webb said he moved his dealership to be more centrally located. Infiniti of Kansas City is not only more centrally located, it is easily visible from I-35.
“Our customers told us they wanted us to be more conveniently located, and so we moved here to be more centrally located for the Kansas City market,” Webb said. “Now we are easily accessible from the north and south of the city and east and west. We are right in the middle.”
Hendrick Toyota Scion likes its new location, too. It’s on 12 acres of land, double the size of its previous spot just three-quarters of a mile away on Shawnee Mission Parkway.
For the last 2½ years, Hendrick Toyota Scion has operated at 9505 W. 67th Street.
Brad Pointer, sales director at Hendrick Toyota Scion, makes an obvious point why the new location is great for business.
“Just the sheer amount of traffic, the visibility from the highway,” Pointer said. “There are 400,000 sets of eyeballs every day that drive by here.
“Our business has increased pretty dramatically with the new location because of the visibility.”
Hendrick Lexus Kansas City has also been in its current location for 2½ years, making the move from 103rd and State Line.
“We outgrew the building and the property. We built a building almost three times the size of the old building,” said Becky Voyles, executive assistant program coordinator.
“Old customers followed us, and we gained new customers. We try to be as convenient as possible. We are open 7 days a week.”
Each of the four dealerships stress their customer service attributes as one reason for car buyers to drop by.
“The biggest reason is we have a tremendous product to offer,” said John Roberts, general manager at Shawnee Mission Hyundai. “We have the best facility in the city for Hyundai, I believe. We are the largest Hyundai dealer in the city. We offer a tremendous deal on our products. Hyundai is still a very affordable product.”
Auto dealerships are no different from any other business during the holidays. They expect to do increased business during Thanksgiving.
Whether a potential car buyer is looking for a luxury vehicle or one less expensive, West Frontage Road in Merriam is one area in the city that caters to all tastes.
The dealerships feed off each other.
“Absolutely,” Pointer said. “People who are shopping us, are also shopping Hyundai because they are somewhat comparable.
“Lexus is also a product of Toyota so we get a lot Lexus 350 customers who come over and take a look at our Avalon because the vehicles are similar but a little more affordable, but just as classy.”
Even though Webb sells the newest Infiniti on the market, he wants car buyers to know they have a wide selection of other preowned vehicles.
“Over the last three years, we have been stocking other makes and models,” Webb said. “We have Mercedes, Audis, Lexus, Hondas, everything. At least half our sales are non-Infiniti vehicles.”
For Webb, the move first from Dallas to Kansas City and then moving his dealership to Merriam has been everything he thought it would be.
“We thought Kansas City was a great location, a wonderful city, a great place to raise a family,” Webb said. “We wanted to start a family. We thought it would be a perfect fit. It has been so far.”
Recently, Webb and his wife had their first child, a son. Obviously, he is thrilled with the family addition. But there is another reason Webb smiles so much.
“I have been in the car business my whole life,” Webb said. “I am really lucky. I get to get up and do something I enjoy every single day.”
The other locations have the same family feel to them. Christina Rose, the marketing director at Hendrick Toyota Scion, was blown away by a letter that general manager Randy Crowell gave to all his employees at a Thanksgiving celebration a week before Thanksgiving.
In the letter, Crowell wrote: “For as far back as I can recall, anytime I asked Granny how she was, the answer was always the same, ‘I just count my blessings every day.’”
Talking with the people who work at the dealerships on West Frontage Road in Merriam, you quickly come away knowing they feel blessed to be where they are.
“We are very easily accessible being right up against I-35,” Webb said. “We are part of a destination for our customers when they do their shopping.
“My wife and I are excited because we can dedicate a 100 percent of our time to making this the best customer experience and the best Infiniti experience in the country.”
If you have a feature story you would like to see in Drive email your idea to David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com.