From humble beginnings — when the late Bob Alexander ran his car dealership from a Quonset hut on Olive Drive in the 1960s — Toyota has been a mainstay of the Davis automobile colony.
Now, Hanlees Toyota looks to the future as its new, 45,000-square-foot facility at 4202 Chiles Road unveils an expanded service center, a roomy waiting area, giant showroom and 21st-century amenities like an enclosed study area and carwash.
“The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that we have more room for people to sit down and be comfortable,” says Gerry Quinlan, Hanlees corporate fixed operations director. “We have a quiet room if somebody wants to do schoolwork … they can shut the door and there will be work stations in there.”
The longtime site manager says the expansion took 10 months to complete. The first phase built out the service area, with the showroom and business offices part of the final buildout. While the new facility has been open almost a month, a celebrated grand opening is scheduled “for sometime in April.”
The computer terminals (complete with Internet hookup), paintings, plants and some other last-minute touches remain a work in progress, but Quinlan promises that everything will be complete by the big unveiling.
“If I had to compare (the new building and the old one), we just didn’t have enough space,” the Fairfield area resident explains. “We outgrew the old facility years ago. This is an easier, bigger, better environment.”
Don Lee, the principal of Hanlees Automotive Group, purchased the Davis site from Dick Ogan in 1993. After its move from Olive Drive, the store was known as Campus Toyota.
Under Lee’s guidance, Hanlees has stepped up its community involvement. And, thanks to its new digs, the store remains committed to a healthy Davis, Quinlan says.
“We try to invest in the community,” the GM explains, pointing to ongoing support of the Davis Schools Foundation. “We will continue to be involved with that foundation and try to help different clubs and groups and a lot of youth-oriented activities that require funding that doesn’t seem to be there as much anymore.”
Hanlees Nissan dealership — east of Toyota on Chiles Road — has hosted a Davis Schools Foundation recognition ceremony and Quinlan reports that his new Toyota showroom also will be open to Davis organizations that would like to host large gatherings.
“We certainly have the room now,” Quinlan adds, pointing to the unique setting as another reason to offer to host local groups.
The $6 million project not only rebuilt, but repositioned Hanlees’ building.
“It’s the same piece of property, but we turned the whole building for better sight lines from the freeway,” Quinlan explains. “Now, you can’t help but draw your eye over here when you drive by on the freeway.
“Before, it was very easy to just drive by and you wouldn’t even notice anything over here. We the turned building to face the freeway and put in a huge entryway that lights up at night.”
Toyota guests will remember the west-end service shop that frequently saw cars waiting for service queue up in one line, occasionally overflowing onto Chiles Road.
Quinlan beams when he talks about the new east-facing service department:
“We have two lanes leading back to service. There’s an overhang that protects customers from the (elements) and the reception area starts farther off the street.”
He loves that customers “get in and out faster” thanks to the new setup.
Quinlan says Hanlees Toyota updates its technical equipment at least annually, and adds that Toyota is always looking to the future.
“Toyota is at the forefront of all the technology changes,” Quinlan continues. “We are heavy into fuel-cell technology now. We’re already talking about how we’re going to get that technology into the dealerships.”
But it might be an old-fashioned piece of equipment — but new to Hanlees — that will bring the most smiles to area Toyota customers, new and old …
“We added a carwash,” reports Quinlan. “It’s always available for our service customers. Even if one of our customers is just driving by and wants to run their car through, we’ll do that for them.”
A flat-screen TV, a sequestered work room, a four-times-larger showroom, 23 services bays (up from 16) and space in which to wander. Mix in the reliable, best-selling Toyota brand — and now a carwash — and Hanlees provides ever more reasons to shop locally.
Notes: Hanlees also sells Scion automobiles, but it’s a full line of trucks, SUVs and passenger cars (which includes the wildly successful Prius and Camry) that remain among its top local draws. …Ironically, Quonset huts (like the one from which Alexander sold his original Toyotas 50 years ago) are made in Davisville — Rhode Island, that is. … According to U.S. government figures, the Toyota Camry was the best-selling passenger car in the U.S. during 2013 (more than 400,000 units). It’s an honor the Camry has held for much of the past 20 years.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-320-4456.