Sweeney Builds New Buick GMC Dealership for the Future

BOARDMAN, Ohio – The owners of Sweeney Buick GMC don’t expect driverless vehicles to be pulling into the service lane any time soon. They just want the dealership’s new home to be ready for when that day comes.

Work was under way in earnest Tuesday on the site where Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC is constructing a new building for the Buick and GMC dealership, 7997 Market St. The existing building was constructed in 1969 and has been through several remodels to meet standards set by the two brands, said Alexa Sweeney Blackann, vice president of the Sweeney dealerships.

“It’ll be a significant investment in the community and we’re excited to do that,” she said.

On Nov. 5, a microburst with wind speeds approaching 100 mph blew open the doors of the Buick GMC service department and ripped the roof off the building, Blackann recalled. The damage necessitated consolidating service department operations at the Sweeney Chevrolet dealership across the street.

Slated for completion in November 2019, the new 40,000-square-foot building will house a new showroom and service department for the dealership, as well as the headquarters for Sweeney Chevrolet Buick GMC on the building’s second level.

In addition, Sweeney’s Superlot building for its used-car operation will be expanded by 6,000 square feet to house the company’s wholesale and Pace Performance parts operations, the latter of which sells engines and performance parts.

Since the storm, a crew from DeSalvo Construction, Hubbard, has been on site doing selected demolition in preparation for the start of the project, said Mark Dodd, DeSalvo’s vice president and senior project manager with the general contractor.

Dodd was selling his company “short a little bit,” Blakann said, about the role it played getting Sweeney up and running after the storm. The Buick GMC building housed electrical utilities and the information technology department for both dealerships, so they were “completely down” until about midmorning after the storm.

“They brought in a generator, got us fired up and then all of our computer systems were live by 10 a.m. It was amazing,” she said.

The decision was made to demolish the service and parts building, which was “beyond repair,” and to build a new Buick GMC and Sweeney headquarters, Blackann said.

Construction plans for the new dealership building, which will also accommodate the dealerships’ call center and accounting staff, are just being completed, Dodd said.

Customer experience is at the core of the business, Blackann said, so consideration is being given to the vehicle purchase process, access to the service department, getting a rental car and completing paperwork.

Thought also was put into how customers could pay online and have the vehicle be delivered once the service is completed, without needing to enter the store at all.

“I was recently at a seminar where they said what if your car was almost like your phone and it updated at night, so if you had an automated car it drove into the dealership, had new tires put on it in the middle of the night while you slept, and parked itself back in your garage,” she recalled. “We were mindful of that in that building we could best serve the customer well into the next 100 years with this facility.”

The DeSalvo crew was milling the site Tuesday, preparing it for grading in the next few days for the new parking lot and the pad for the new building, Dodd said. As part of the project, the contractor also needs to install underground water retention chambers beneath the asphalt.

“We’re probably 12 to 16 weeks away from structural steel,” Dodd said. Delivery of steel to the site should take about three months from the completion of drawings. “We’ll start the foundations as soon as the building pad is in, within the next month or so,” he said.

The project is allowing Sweeney to make other upgrades as well. The new Buick GMC building will be further back from the road than the existing building, Blackann said.

“If you look at [the building], how close it is to Market Street, it’s not really ideal for our customers, so we’re going to take an opportunity to move it farther back on the property, sort of center it right in front of the Superlot building, and allow for all of that customer parking and really convenient shopping,” she said.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.