Despite cars, trucks and vans being moved around, temporary buildings erected and construction going on, the owners and managers of Lugoff Toyota want the public they’re not only open for business, they’re at full capacity to serve customers.
General Manager Tom Hill and Service Manager Robbie Hunter said a few people have mistaken all the work as a sign the dealership was being closed down. It turns out that what’s happening is just the opposite.
According to owner Mark Mason Sr., Lugoff Toyota is going through a $3 million upgrade for new facilities to better serve Kershaw County and surrounding counties. It’s a three-phase operation, the first of which is almost completed: the addition of an all-new, state-of-the-art service facility.
“It’ll be larger in size, with eight new bays,” Hunter said.
He and Hill said the second phase will see the existing service bays renovated. Mason Sr. estimated the combination of new and renovated bays will increase the dealership’s service capacity by more than 35 percent.
Phase III might be the most dramatic change the public sees. Mason Sr. also owns nearby Lugoff Ford. His son, Lugoff Ford General Manager Mark Mason Jr., said Lugoff Toyota’s existing 4,000-square-foot showroom will be demolished and replaced with a 14,000-square-foot facility.
Hunter said interior demolition of the existing showroom will start when the new service bays are completed, in about two weeks. He said it would be about another three weeks after that the entire structure will come down.
“The new concrete pad should be poured the first week of November and that’s when people should start seeing the new building going up,” Hunter said.
Mason Sr. indicated the entire project would likely be completed in March 2013, with a grand opening in April or May.
“We may even be open in February,” Mason Jr. said. “We’re trying to give ourselves extra time.”
Some temporary buildings have already been placed on the Lugoff Toyota lot to house sales and management offices during the transition.
“They’ve been here about a month,” Hill said.
Mason Sr. said the temporary buildings can be seen from U.S. 1, right behind Substation II, and houses the service write-up and sales offices.
“There’s no need to wait or delay in getting your vehicle serviced or repaired,” Mason Sr. said in an email.
The regular U.S. 1 entrances into Lugoff Toyota have been blocked off due to the construction. A temporary entrance has been configured between the dealership and Substation II; customers exit to the right rear of the lot and return to U.S. 1 via a nearby hotel’s driveway. To make room, Mason Jr. said an overflow of new inventory has been moved directly across U.S. 1 at the old Watkins/Fed Ex building.
In fact, Mason Sr. said Lugoff Toyota is hosting a “Construction Sell-A-Bration” in order to sell vehicles to make room for the construction.
“It’s the best time ever to purchase a new or preowned vehicle during our construction sale,” Mason Sr. said. “We are expecting record-setting months during the construction period and thereafter.”
Mark Jr. estimated that despite the extra footprint of the larger showroom and additional service bays, Lugoff Toyota will actually see a $2 million increase in inventory after all three phases are done, bringing the inventory up to $5 million on the lot.
“We’re going to differently configure the lot, with a line of cars out front, but more of the inventory in back,” Hill said. “We’ve been planning this for three years -- July 2008 -- when (Mark’s) dad came here.”
When all three phases are completed, Mason Sr. said he anticipates hiring an additional “nine or so” employees.
“We are presently hiring additional technicians and sales consultants,” he said. “We apologize for the temporary inconvenience, but assure (our customers) it is only temporary and, when done, they will be appreciative of the improvement.
“We thank them for their past and future business as we continue to grow.”