‘It's a rare opportunity’
For 47 years, Steve Johnson, owner of Zumbrota Ford, has been in the car dealership business.
Last week, one of his most successful accomplishments may have been completed, when the dealership opened its new building, as they will now also have a Chrysler dealership, along with its Ford dealership.
Johnson explained the process began about two years ago when they were approached by the Chrysler Corporation about creating a dealership in the area and that because of the strong sales for the Zumbrota dealership, they knew that it would be a good fit.
If someone had asked Johnson a few years ago if he would have the opportunity to add a Chrysler dealership, he wouldn’t have believed it.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that this would have occurred,” Johnson said. “It’s a rare opportunity,” he added.
The reason why it is such a rare thing to be able to have a Chrysler dealership in a small town like Zumbrota is mainly because of the small amount of Chrysler dealerships in Southeast Minnesota.
Johnson explained that they are the only dealership between Rochester and the Twin Cities and one of only a few in all of Southeast Minnesota.
When companies like Chrysler are looking for new dealership locations, one of the main things that they look for is the amount of cars that are sold at different locations. Because of the high volume of vehicles that have been sold at the Zumbrota location, especially as of recently, they knew that having a dealership there would be a huge success.
Over the past few years, Johnson explained that they have done some major renovations, which include revamping every department.
By doing this, Johnson explained that they have been able to double their sales, going from selling about 100 vehicles a month to 200.
“We have grown a lot since we have invested in the renovations,” Johnson explained.
Aside from the major renovations, that have been made, along with the increase in inventory that they offer customers, the success is also in part due to the exceptional staff that they have.
“We have a great staff here that takes care of our customers,” Johnson said. He also noted that they are always doing their research about new trends in the industry, which helps out greatly when it comes to matching up people with vehicles that will be the best fit for them.
The other positive that Johnson pointed to making their dealership a desirable one for Chrysler is the fact that the area has great economic stability, and as The Destination Medical Center in Rochester continues to grow, the economics in the area will only become better.
“We are blessed to be in Southeast Minnesota with a great economy,” Johnson said.
Although they had their soft opening last week for the new dealership, Johnson explained that they have been selling vehicles since December and have had plenty of success. Johnson feels that Chrysler has some of the most desirable vehicles on the market currently.
One of the things that Johnson is looking forward to with the new dealership is being able to keep the management in the family. Johnson explained that his two daughters, Kristin Johnson and Kelly Poeschel, will be the co-managers of the Chrysler dealership.
For Johnson, he is hopeful that one day, he can pass on his company to his daughters, and they can continue the success of putting local people in great vehicles that fit their needs as they have been doing at Zumbrota Ford for the last 20 years.
“They enjoy the business, and I like working with them,” Johnson said.