Ground is broken Thursday on Ledo Road in Lee County for Prince Automotive group. The company, a Chevriolet, Buick and Cadillac dealership, is currently located on South Slappety Boulevard in Albany.
TIFTON, Ga. — Ground was officially broken Thursday on the new Prince Automotive Group property on Ledo Road in Lee County, which will become the home of Prince Chevrolet of Albany, now located at 1001 S. Slappey Blvd.
Prince Automotive CEO John Prince confirmed from his corporate office in Tifton Thursday that work had begun on the new 30,000-square-foot building that will house his existing Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac lines as well as a new GMC franchise.
"My architect tells me we should be moving into the new facility by June 1," Prince said. "I figure we'll be in there some time in June. We're excited about the new facility that's going to allow us to be much more productive in a slightly smaller space."
Prince said his lease on the Slappey Boulevard property runs out Feb. 1, but he will maintain a month-to-month lease with property owner and former dealership owner Paul Wallace until the new facility is ready.
"Mr. Wallace is a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy, and he's always been a pleasure to work with," Prince said. "I don't know what he plans to do with the building once we're out, but I've offered a couple of suggestions."
Prince announced in March 2011 that he'd purchased 7.79 acres of land off Ledo Road in Lee County adjacent to the Grand Island Club. A month later he announced the purchase of Edwards Motors in Albany, combining that dealership's Buick and Cadillac lines with his Chevrolet dealership.
He said Thursday the addition of the GMC franchise adds a new dimension to his dealership that will make it more of a "superstore."
"Any time you add a new product line, you have to incorporate and understand a new line of knowledge," Prince said. "The learning curve should not be that difficult because the GMC line of vehicles is very similar to the Chevrolet line, especially when it comes to service."
The new Prince dealership will include 22 service stalls, including two Quik-Lube stalls, and will typically carry an inventory of 200 new and 100 used vehicles.
"One additional detail that benefits us is that with our Chevy/Buick/GMC dealerships in Valdosta and Tifton, we'll always have access to around 500 vehicles," Prince said.
The Prince Automotive CEO said he was not necessarily looking to move his dealership out of Albany and Dougherty County when he purchased the property on Ledo.
"I looked at a lot of property, some of it in Dougherty County and some of it in Lee County," Prince said. "This is the place that was available that gives us the kind of traffic we were looking for. I believe 25 percent of your used-car business comes from drive-by shoppers, so a high-traffic area was important.
"I'm kind of like Walgreen: I want to be on a corner with a lot of traffic. Frankly, I think our used car sales will double at the new location."
Prince said the Ledo Road facility, including property acquisition, would be a $4.3 million investment.
Prince got his start in the automotive business in Tifton in 1966, and he's expanded that empire to include Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Honda, Toyota, Ford and Mercury dealerships.