Cars

Legends Honda, Toyota dealerships like the view in western Wyandotte County

Duce Lett, general manager of Legends Honda
Duce Lett, general manager of Legends Honda David Boyce

Each day Duce Lett drives to work at Legends Honda at 10050 Parallel Parkway in Kansas City, Kan., he is able to look to the south side of Parallel and see the bulldozers clearing the way for more auto dealerships.

For now, the two new dealership buildings on the north side of Parallel just east of I-435 are Legends Honda and Legends Toyota.

Legends Toyota sprang up in 2011, and Legends Honda opened in 2013. Lett, who has worked as a general manager at both dealerships, has been there almost from the beginning.

Performance Auto Group owns both dealerships. At the time the two buildings went up, nearly all of the construction work for retail and restaurants in the Legends area was taking place on the west side of I-435.

“We are just excited with the growth opportunity,” Lett said. “We feel this area is really exploding. We are happy to be out on the front of it.”

In a year or two, one or more new auto dealerships will arrive across the street from Legends Honda. Lett welcomes all the new dealerships to the neighborhood.

“We are excited to have them,” he said. “The more places for the customers to shop, the more this place becomes an opportunity to be a destination location for car shoppers.”

Legends Honda and Legends Toyota already have a foothold on car buyers who live in western Wyandotte County.

The white and blue Legends Honda and the white and red Legends Toyota stand out for people getting off I-435 on their way to Nebraska Furniture Mart, Sporting Kansas City for a soccer match or the many other retail shops and restaurants in the Legends.

Once a potential customer walks into Legends Honda or Legends Toyota, Lett is confident they will see reliable vehicles that are affordable.

“The key is getting behind a good manufacturer,” he said. “Honda and Toyota are really great brands to represent.”

This year one of the most popular vehicles at Legends Honda is the CR-V. It is a smaller SUV that has a lot of space and gets great gas mileage, Lett said.

The vehicles to look forward to in 2015 at Legends Honda are the all-new HR-V small crossover and a redesigned Pilot.

Honda is promoting the HR-V as a dynamic SUV model that combines the qualities of an SUV with the functionality of a minivan and elegant coupe.

“We are really excited for the launch of the HR-V, which is a smaller platform SUV,” Lett said. “It comes out in an all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive. It will get really good gas mileage and offer quite a bit of space.”

Lett is also excited about the redesign of the Pilot. The Pilot is a larger SUV that features three rows of seating.

“It was due for a redesign,” Lett said. “It is a complete overhaul of the entire vehicle.

“We will get the HR-V in the first part of 2015, and we will get the Pilot later in the year.”

Lett said other than learning the different products, he didn’t have to make much of an adjustment when he switched from Legends Toyota to Legends Honda in 2013.

“We keep the same values at both stores, the same paper work processes, the same sales and service process,” he said.

“We are fortunate because we have two really great brands to represent. Honda and Toyota are two very reliable, safe brands. It is pretty easy between the two because they have same core values corporately.”

Plus, his boss remained the same.

“Steve Kurtz is the president of this group,” Lett said. “I was the general manager for him at Toyota and then I became general manager for him at Honda. He handles the day-to-day operation of the Toyota store and oversees both stores, and I handle the day-to-day operation of the Honda store.”

They both have watched the expansion of businesses in the Legends area.

“It is a really dynamic area with a lot growth,” Lett said. “We were really excited to see Cerner come to this side of town. We are excited to see some of the roofs going up with the new apartment complexes. That seems to be a big drive for our area.

“It is a really big deal. We are excited to have those folks move in to this area. People tend to shop where they live. It is good for all the businesses around here, restaurants, retail location and obviously for the dealerships as well.”

Legends Toyota and Legends Honda were the first to take a chance on bringing car dealerships to that area in Wyandotte County.

“I hope that helps,” Lett said. “We will have a little bit of a head start with some of our established customers. People know we treat people right here. Hopefully, we will blaze the way for some of the other guys who are going to venture out this way.”

If you have a story you would like to see On the Move, email David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com.

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