Some visitors to Tuesday's open house at the new Volvo and GMC dealership in Fultondale, AL, compared the facility to a miniature truckstop.

The 46,000-square-foot building is on 14 acres right off Interstate 65 just north of Birmingham, AL. It features 16 drive-through service bays plus eight body shop bays and a new state-of-the-art spray paint booth. The customer lounge offers cushy recliners, a 27-inch television with satellite programming or free movies, a kitchenette area and even a shower.
Initial plans called for overnight rooms for customers. However, the Fultondale location has a hotel going up right next door, and there's another one nearby. The dealership plans to negotiate discounted rates for its customers.
About 1,200 people attended the open house and enjoyed a free fried catfish lunch, tours of the facility, as well as displays from suppliers such as Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Eaton, Meritor, Truck-Lite, Panelite and Michelin. Suppliers also donated tables heaped full of door prizes such as jackets, a TV/VCR combo, coolers, a tool set and more.
This is the fourth facility since the dealership opened for business in 1915. President T.J. Willings says the new site offers many advantages over their old one in downtown Birmingham, especially the easy interstate access and parking for tractor-trailers.
"It's also laid out much more efficiently for a modern support facility," he says, "with the drive-through bays and the location of the parts department. It's much more productive for our personnel."
Willings attributes the success of the open house to those personnel who really worked hard to make it a success.
The smaller facilities didn't keep the dealership from being successful; Volvo named it its 1998 Dealer of the Year. The operation sells anywhere from 500 to 1,500 new Class 8 Volvos a year, 100 to 150 medium duty GMC trucks a year and 150 to 250 used trucks a year.
"We really try and offer everyone everything," Willings says. "Selling trucks is important, but taking care of the ones that are out there is even more important."