By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News
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“It’s really to try to make a better experience for our customers,” said Dan Wilder Jr., general manager of Wilder Auto Center and Wilder Toyota-Scion at 96 Deer Park Road just east of Port Angeles.
“We’re getting kind of cramped where we are,” he said.
Construction crews have installed the wooden frames to form what will be the concrete foundation of a two-story, 16,637-square-foot-total building on a site just east of Wilder Auto Center.
“It will be one more facility, just in line with the other two,” said Dan Wilder Sr., president and owner of the dealerships.
The new building will be a dedicated Honda dealership and service shop, the elder Wilder said, with a new showroom on the ground floor and offices on the second.
“Our goal is to hire several more people,” he said, though he declined to give a specific number at this stage.
He said he expects construction to take eight months.
The new service shop will have 11 mechanics bays just for Hondas, which will allow the auto dealer’s other service shops to handle more cars from the other brands sold there, Wilder Sr. explained.
“Our No. 1 goal is to make it convenient for our customers,” he said, adding that Honda is Wilder Auto’s best-selling brand.
The first floor of the new facility will be 13,394 square feet, with the second being 3,243 square feet, according to a building permit issued by the Clallam County Department of Community Development.
The value of the new construction is listed at $1.2 million, according to the permit, though Wilder Sr. expects the entire facility to cost $2.5 million once the car service bays and showroom are fully outfitted.
Wilder Auto has tapped J&J Construction of Port Angeles to be the main contractor on the project, according to the building permit.
Wilder Sr. said the project will use locally owned subcontractors and other companies, just as the two other dealership buildings did during their construction.
“We believe we have to support the community,” he said. “They support us.”
The new facility joins the 12-year-old Wilder Auto Center, which sells Hondas, Nissans, Volkswagens, Chryslers, Jeeps and Dodges, and the 14-year-old Wilder Toyota-Scion, which underwent a $1 million remodeling in 2012, Wilder Sr. said.
Although auto dealerships across the state and country took a hard hit after the 2008 recession, Wilder Sr. said, the economy has begun to improve enough for a large expansion to make sense.
“We’re making a big investment, but we’re upbeat and positive about the future,” he said.
“We’ve had slow growth, but we’ve had growth every year.”
Wilder Sr. said he also believes in the resilience of Port Angeles and the surrounding community and, after 37 years in business here, wants to continue to invest in it.
“I think the future is strong,” he said.
Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.