“The toughest challenge was waiting out the economic downturn,” said Garth Blumenthal, general manager of Fletcher Jones Motorcars Group, the #1 volume Mercedes-Benz dealership in the nation. “We have been waiting a long time to open up here in Temecula.”
Indeed, the investment group was formed in 2006, the building plans were approved in 2008, but building the new dealership did not start until 2013. The dealership is located west of the Harveston community on Ynez Rd. beyond the northwest corner of the Winchester Rd/Hwy 15 intersection.
According to Ron Hutsell, project superintendent for Kunzik & Sara Construction, everything went smoothly and close to schedule over the past year; there were no major glitches. They are still waiting for some parking lot lights, but he is at the final “punch list” stage.
The dealership opened for business on Friday, April 19. Without the fanfare of a grand opening and despite last-minute construction detail work still ongoing, they had sold three new cars before mid-afternoon.
“This is a really good market that appreciates top-quality products and an outstanding level of customer service,” said Blumenthal. “The demographics are good – family-oriented, high education level, lower house payments, high FICO scores, and a good understanding of keeping sales tax dollars local.”
Blumenthal expects to have an inventory of 600 new and pre-owned automobiles with sales of about 300 per month by the end of 2015.
“We will have lots of sales and service specials to launch our new dealership, especially for our ‘black card’ holders. People enjoy being pampered and appreciate good service,” said Blumenthal. “We pride ourselves on delivering that experience and judge ourselves based on our customer satisfaction scores.”
The 30 service bays are housed in a fully-air conditioned area with large windows on both ends and viewing windows from the customer lounge. State-of-the-art equipment is used at every station. They can service 75-100 cars per day.
“We had over 800 applications for jobs at the dealership,” said Blumenthal. “We found more qualified people than at any other location. We found that so many people live here in this community and have been commuting to other dealerships for years. All our hired techs are Mercedes Benz Star-certified. Three of our 12 techs are from the Newport Beach location with three more waiting to come over.”
The separate 5,000 square foot detail and dry vacuum area can service eight cars at once. There is a separate car wash area.
“We will wash any Mercedes car for free,” said Blumenthal.
The dealership is one of a select few that will also be selling and servicing Sprinters – the Mercedes-Benz brand of large commercial vans that start around $40,000 and come equipped with the BlueTec diesel engines. Many owners “upfit” the vans with optional equipment and variations. The dealership has three large service bays dedicated solely to the Sprinters.
The main structure was dropped in size from 80,000 square feet in the original plan to 50,000 square feet, but is still much larger than most of the dealerships in the area. Its prominent location overlooking the 15/215 freeways at the northern limits of the city is further enhanced by the 35-foot obelisk displaying the Mercedes logo that is visible for miles in both
The architect for the project was Gensler, who designed the Fletcher Jones dealerships in Newport Beach, Ontario and Chicago.
A dual waterfall-fountain cascades smoothly down the curved walls of the center roundabout at the front entrance giving a resort-like feel. Customer parking is abundant with 40 spaces in the roundabout. Inside the grand showroom (that can hold eight cars on the main floor and three on a mezzanine level outfitted with unique steel stairs that can be driven on), is a clean modern European styling with imported lights and blue-tinted skylights that block out 70 percent of UV light. The abundance of glass partitions enhances the open floor plan and visibility.
The Delivery Center adjacent to the Owners’ Lounge can accommodate three cars at a time. The Parts Boutique is centrally located at the back of the showroom floor. The Customers’ Lounge features Peet’s Coffee in the full service coffee bar and fresh organic food items sourced locally from E.A.T. (Extraordinary Artisan Table) in Old Town Temecula. There is a separate children’s play area with games and monitors.
The upstairs Employee Lounge features open space and the flexibility of glass nano walls to change the space. It can accommodate gatherings of up to 80 people. A large lit abstract artwork piece on the north wall depicts the Temecula Valley and surrounding mountains. The beautiful front stairway is made of stainless steel and glass with wood inlays.
“People enjoy being pampered and appreciate good service,” said Blumenthal. “We pride ourselves on delivering that experience and judge ourselves based on our customer satisfaction scores.”
The dealership will have extended service hours to accommodate working professionals as well as complimentary shuttle services to the Promenade Mall and airport shuttle service to Ontario.
Mercedes-Benz of Temecula also plans to be an integral part of the community, participating in supporting children’s charities and schools.
The dealership is opening with 40-50 staff, including General Manager Antony Chandler who has been with Fletcher Jones for 18 years and moved to Temecula nine months ago.
“I am very impressed with Murrieta and Temecula and the people here,” said Chandler. “There couldn’t be a better place to open up a dealership!”