By Doug Hill
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — A $2 million modernization project at Ferguson Buick-GMC has been completed, officials with the dealership have announced.
“Every customer touch-point is either brand new or has been completely refurbished,” general manager Gary Burton said. “The show room, manager and finance offices, whole new climate-controlled service drive and customer lounge.”
The dealership at 1015 Interstate Drive anchors the north end of what’s traditionally referred to as the Miracle Mile of Cars. Now a seasoned automotive sales professional Burton has been employed by Ferguson since he was 19. He oversaw the recently completed $2 million modernization of Ferguson’s flagship store that was done by Oklahoma City-based Clark Construction Inc.
“It was a year and a half project from start to finish,” Burton said. “We have all new air conditioning/heating, roof, plumbing, bath rooms, carpeting and furniture.”
Brad Bales was Clark’s superintendent and Burton gave him high praise for the job and daily work interactions.
The dealership’s outside façade facing west significantly contributed to the project’s 18-month length. It’s a metallic skin made of aluminum composite material (ACM) that glints attractively in the afternoon sun. For a long time drivers over the Robinson Street bridge saw an unfinished insulation face on the building. The Ferguson team were concerned the general public would think they’d started the job and run out of funding.
“That wasn’t the case,” Burton said. “We were always very well-capitalized.”
The snag was that façade had to first be framed-in and accurately measured before the ACM could be ordered, manufactured and shipped for installation. The plans for virtually the entire upgrade were to General Motors Corporation specifications.
“They had requirements like the interior paint colors, carpeting and tiles,” Burton said. “GM did a great job selecting everything and it’s awesome.” Coincidentally the Detroit-headquartered Corporation announced their dealership upgrade program at the same time Ferguson had made the decision to renovate the place. “It was just time for improvements,” Burton said. “We needed new everything and definitely embraced the concepts and specs GM brought to the table.”
Ferguson received some incentives for being part of the program but it was not a corporate-financed deal. Because of neighboring businesses on two sides and I-35 and Robinson on the others there was no room for space expansion. Fortunately that wasn’t necessary for Ferguson’s business plan. “We have room for a thousand units for sale which is more than we normally carry,” he said.
Burton credits hard work and dedication to their customers for making Ferguson the No. 1 Buick-GMC dealer in Oklahoma. They’ve been in the local market since 1974 and unlike other dealers those two brands are their exclusive products.
“We have a lot of repeat and referral business,” Burton said. Ferguson sells on average 2.5 new vehicles every day and around 100 used cars a month. People from all over the metro and even adjoining states visit the dealership. Because of having product advertised online, one time a customer came from Pennsylvania to buy a used truck.
“Our positive customer response to the renovation has been overwhelming. They enjoy the new customer lounge with reclining leather chairs.”
There’s also a big screen television, complimentary cappuccino machine, Wi-Fi and a desk with available computers. A rumpus room has toy trucks for kids to play with while their parents select full size ones. Customer Janet McWilliams of S. Oklahoma City was at the counter of the new service reception area.
“This is really nice,” she said. “I hadn’t been out here for awhile and it looks great.”
That area has been greatly expanded and is completely enclosed from the weather. In the past bringing a car in for an oil change was a bit of a tight squeeze. Now it’s a drive into a quarry-tiled entry way wide enough for three cars side by side.
The interior design is contemporary with sleek lines, and colors tending to charcoal, slate gray and dove. Ceiling tiles are arctic white and comfortable leather chairs are grouped strategically around where folks wander to look at shiny new Buick Verano and Regal models. Ferguson has a payroll of 100 people in sales, service, parts desk and a nearby body repair shop.
“Since we’re closed on Sunday a group of employees approached me about having a Super Bowl party here at work because of the nice new layout and big screen TV,” Burton said.
You might guess what the response to that was; sometimes it’s tough being the boss. Ferguson has a grand re-opening event planned for spring time when the weather warms up.
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