The dealership, which has been undergoing a transformation for the past 13 months, will serve as the prototype for International Truck and Engine Corp.'s future vision of its truck dealerships, according to its chief, John Horne. The new look, developed in collaboration with the corporation, is expected to be adopted by the more than 1,000 International dealership locations over the next several years.
The idea behind the redesign and modernization was to distinguish City International from its competition, symbolize best-in-class of dealerships and demonstrate a commitment to delivering value to customers by creating an environment that provides comfort and convenience, explained Kirk Plagman, president of the full-service, full-line dealership. In July 1999, he purchased the dealership, founded in 1973 as a factory branch, after nearly 28 years with International, most recently as vice president of International Used Truck Operations.
"I wanted to get into the dealership business, and I'd been gathering lots of information, especially on other types of dealers, for some time," he said. Plagman, who began his career with International in 1971 as a retail truck salesman at a factory branch in Minneapolis, came to the dealership with plenty of ideas for upgrading City International with more functionality, as it had outgrown its original design.
What's more, he wanted to update the dealership to be ready for International's NGV line, due out in mid-February, and to appeal more to owner-operators.
Shortly after Plagman purchased the dealership, he, along with members of the dealership's board and department heads, put themselves into the customer's shoes and did a critical walk-through of the facility, looking for strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement. "We wanted to know what worked and what didn't," Plagman recalled.
Decisions were made, the revamping began and "after a labor and passion of love over the past13 months," City International was reborn, said Plagman, who noted proudly that the dealership remained open doing business the entire time.
Acknowledging that Navistar recorded nearly flat fiscal third quarter operating earnings and is beginning a cost-cutting plan that includes layoffs, Plagman said he wasn't worried about International's future. "Do you honestly think I would make such significant investments in this dealership if I were concerned?"
One of the most prominent renovations at City International is the rugged-looking International Diamond Tower, made up of two large steel beam type pillars with the bold International Diamond logo in the center. The arch spans the entrance to the 45,000-square-foot facility, which sits on nearly 10 acres of land at the busy crossroads of Central Ave. and the Stevenson Expressway.
Other features of the new dealership include:
* Modern service center with 32 newly renovated service bays.
* Full-service paint and body shop with a two-bay paint booth, eight drive-in body shop bays, steam bay and front-end alignment and dynometer equipment.
* New spacious, comfortable Eagle's Nest driver's lounge with workstations that have phone and modem outlets, large screen TV and family-style seating.
* Redone parts display area and offices.
* Remodeled sales department.
* New, separate facility for the Idealease operation.