When it comes to the world of cars, the dealerships in Fort Dodge experienced a successful 2012 and look forward to the new opportunities in 2013.
Three of the biggest dealerships all experienced growth and success with sales in the past year.
Matt Johnson, general manager of Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota, said several new products have led them to be successful in 2012.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Kemna Auto Sales Manager Scott Kranz goes over the features of a 2013 Chevrolet with Sales Consultant TJ Pingel on the dealership’s lot. Kranz said Kemna experienced growth in both employment and sales in 2012, and in November saw over 100 units sold.
"We've seen lots of sales, especially with the new hybrid technology with both Ford and Toyota," he said. "As far as the technology, we're going to smaller displacement with turbocharging. That's the type of performance customers are looking for with better mileage."
Johnson said the dealership also experienced growth in 2012. This includes the recent purchase of Ames Ford Lincoln, which took effect Nov. 1. He said this acquisition will improve service in Fort Dodge, as well as offer opportunities for staff to be shared between both locations.
"As far as availability, they have new and pre-owned vehicles there," he said. "We'll be able to run them back and forth for our customers."
Another advantage to having a second dealership is another chance for customer service.
"If people are traveling, it's another area for them to stop in and get the same service you get here," he said. "It also gives us more options as far as product availability."
Johnson said the biggest challenge of the year was making sure they had the cars available for customers who wanted them. The new location will help alleviate that.
A number of vehicles sold by Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota were big sellers in 2012, according to Johnson.
"On the Toyota side our two main sellers were the Camry and the Prius lineup," he said. "On the Ford side, the F150 has been our big seller, especially with its eco-boost motor. It's more horsepower and more towing capability than the previous V8."
At Shimkat Motor Co., co-owner Ed Shimkat said the dealership made improvements to its service in 2012.
"We came out with our new express lane for oil changes," he said. "You don't need an appointment anymore. Now you can just drive up and get your oil changed. We're hoping that we'll also be able to service customers in the surrounding areas."
Shimkat said the dealership also saw an increase in car sales.
"We introduced the new Dodge Dart, which is a new sub-compact car," he said. "It's a beautiful car, and from a product standpoint a lot of things are happening."
A number of cars have been popular at Shimkat.
"Our Chrysler 200 has been our best-selling car," he said. "We've also sold quite a few of our Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300s."
One challenge Shimkat encountered in 2012 was within the market itself and worries from potential customers.
"Everything slowed down a bit and it was just more of a waiting game for us," he said. "We were just waiting for some of the national events to be over and for people to be excited about the future."
In Shimkat's future, there are several new products getting ready to launch.
"Chrysler sells some heavy-duty trucks that we're looking into," Shimkat said. "It will require some remodeling on our facility, but we're looking at that going forward."
Shimkat added the Dodge Ram was recently named the 2013 truck of the year, and the store plans on selling more of them in the next year.
Kemna Auto, another Fort Dodge car dealership, also had a successful year in 2012.
"Our overall units were up," Sales Manager Scott Kranz said. "Our store grew in regards to total dollars, customer base and employees."
Kranz said the store was especially proud of November 2012, when they sold more than 100 retail units.
For Kemna, 2012 saw an increase in the amount of cars available to buy.
"Our used car volume increased substantially," he said. "We've also gotten several new cars, which are fuel-efficient and very popular."
Kranz said he believes it's because of the economy why fuel-efficient cars have increased in popularity.
Goals for the rest of the year include the desire to expand.
"We want to continue to grow," Kranz said. "We see opportunities in our new car department, in the commercial side and in our service department."
Kranz said Kemna also wants to see more months like last November.
"We want to establish a baseline of 100 plus units a month and continue to grow the store," he said.
One way of doing that is by promoting new cars that will become available in 2013.
"We have a new Chevy Silverado coming up," he said. "They've fully redesigned it, and we expect it to be available in the spring or early summer."
At Shimkat, new products are expected to be announced shortly.
"We have the Jeep Grand Cherokee getting redesigned for 2014," he said. "That will be announced in the next three or four months. It's been a great seller for us and a great unit overall."
Likewise, Johnson said Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota is also anticipating several new products.
"The Ford Fusion was redesigned for 2013," he said. "That's been a big seller for us, as well as the Ford Escape. We've got two wonderful brands as far as being leaders in industry and technology."
He added the new Fords will have in-system communication, including Blue Tooth connectivity.
"In a couple months we're going to have an all-redesigned Toyota Rav 4, and on the Lincoln side we have the MKZ which should be out hopefully by the end of the month," Johnson said. "There's also the new flagship sedan for the Lincoln brand, which is really impressive as far as technology and features."
Johnson said he's also excited to see what the future brings.
"We look forward to expanding our business in the future," he said. "Everything in the community has been very exciting and we're excited for the growth and opportunities within the community."