Town and Country

Impressive opening for an impressive project

Story by Carol Pappas
Photos by Wallace Bromberg Jr.

It had an exciting ring to it: “Welcome to the newest Ford store in America: Pell City Alabama!”

And in the moments that followed, there was no mistaking the excitement. NASCAR racing legend Jack Roush was there to cut the ribbon. So was Henry Ford’s great grandson, Edsel Ford. Coupled with the throng of well-wishers and public officials from around the region, opening the doors to the new Town & Country Ford signaled a new day for the automotive industry in Pell City and St. Clair County.

After all, they were partners in the project that had its share of delays but was no less welcome when it finally became reality.

General Manager Doug Bailey thanked the city and county “for all have you done for us over the years to reach this point for our customers.”

Co-owner Bill Sain offered thanks to “the whole team. You believed in your brand. It’s a great market, and we think it will really grow.”

His partner, Steve Watts, thanked all as well, noting that the community had welcomed the dealership with open arms.

Goodgame Company built the facility that stands at the entrance to Pell City on US 231, projecting a new, more progressive image for the city. Vice President Jason Goodgame talked of the reinvestment Town & Country has made in Pell City.

A tremendous amount of growth is happening all around the city, and Goodgame rightly calls Town & Country and others’ investments “a regrowth. They are putting money back into the town.”

Following a decade of new growth, “You’re seeing locals spending money on what they have. They are reinvesting in their physical location,” Goodgame said. He called the Town & Country project “a highlight. It’s high end. They did not cut corners. It’s the nicest thing you’ve ever seen. The finished product is really a beautiful project.”

According to architect Trevor Matchett of Hendon Huckstein architects, “The owner was dedicated to the idea of a first-class facility for Pell City from day one. Ford Land brought some specific new branding elements, which we incorporated into the owner’s vision for a destination facility for customers and employees alike.”

During the design process, Matchett said, “the owner constantly emphasized the value of both his employees and his customers. Ensuring the employees have safe and healthy working conditions throughout the facility was as important as the customer interface areas.”

The project wasn’t without its hurdles, he said. “One of our greatest challenges was accommodating and coordinating the myriad systems and vendors that go into a dealership like this. From the high-tech video components to the oil delivery systems, all have to work together seamlessly. In a sense, the dealership itself is like a well-tuned Mustang. It’s a beautiful, slick, modern, shell, plus all the necessary systems working in concert ‘under the hood’ to efficiently and effectively generate the power behind this great dealership.”

From the expansive showroom to the state-of-the-art service center to quick lane services, it all spells customer service, according to Bailey.

“We wanted to create an environment that customers and employees want to be in,” he said. “I think we pulled it off.”

Town & Country has tripled its capacity for parts and is increasing that inventory to have more in stock and available for more retail at the parts counter to provide a quicker turnaround for the customer.

Again, with the customer in mind, it’s only 26 minutes from beginning to end for an oil change, tire rotation and inspection, said Bailey. “And it’s priced below market value.”

The 27,200 square foot facility replaces the 8,000 square foot dealership, which is now – with cosmetic changes – the headquarters for pre-owned vehicles, some servicing, new and used inspections, heavy engine work, cleanup and detailing.

When Bailey first helped plan the new building, he thought about its size and how to keep it from feeling empty. They pulled that off, too. The expanse of glass, LED features, halo digital graphic accent lighting and even music – “It’s more welcoming when you walk in.”

The waiting areas have common tables equipped with iPads for games and movies, and large screen monitors surround.

More features abound in virtually every corner. A specially equipped camera system allows the customer to watch his vehicle being worked on. In the service department, customers are greeted by a service coordinator with an iPad. Photos and addresses are uploaded in the system, giving the ability to track maintenance.

Town & Country has now gone from 32 employees to 54, and the dealership situated on 13 acres leading into the city, creates an impressive entrance to Pell City. “It’s exciting,” Bailey said.

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