Columbiana dealership needs room to expand

COLUMBIANA — A local dealership must expand in order to make way for its increasing business.

The Columbiana Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram dealership along state Route 14 needs additional parking space for roughly 150 new cars.

The company’s expansion plan was presented to the Columbiana Planning Commission last week and received approval.

The plan was presented by Nelson Witmer of Witmer Construction who was representing dealership owner John Kufleitner, and also Ed Guveiyian, operations manager for Ron Jon Investments LLC and the Kufleitner Auto Group.

“We have had a lot of inventory come in. The business has exploded lately, which is a great thing. We are out of room for the dealership. We need new parking, safe parking,” Guveiyian said.

The plan is to create a new asphalt parking lot on the 2.5 acres the company previously purchased from Witmer, who owned the vacant property that borders the dealership to the east.

That parking lot will feature the roughly 150 new car inventory, clearing up space in the existing parking lots for customer parking.

Witmer and Guveiyian said the current parking situation near the service area is too congested.

“The influx is just crazy. People are parking everywhere. We don’t have anywhere to put inventory,” Guveiyian said. “What we used to have just doesn’t cut the mustard.”

Witmer said the dealership has had four record sales months in a row.

Commission member Scott Jones said he is pleased Kufleitner chose to keep the dealership in the community, referring to the 2017 sale of the Salem dealership.

“I think it’s great to have your business in the community,” he said.

Kufleitner opted to sell the Salem dealership in October of 2017 to J.R. Armour in order to open a dealership in Boardman.

Kufleitner had to make a choice between the Salem or Columbiana dealerships in order to avoid the monopoly laws, which prohibit someone from owning in three connecting or contiguous markets.

He still maintains the John Kufleitner’s Galleria of Vintage, Classic & Pristine Cars, and the Just Like New Collision Repair & Classic Car Restoration, both located in Salem.

Guveiyian said the Columbiana dealership employs a lot of Columbiana residents, and is helping the local tax base.

“It’s great for taxes and it’s great for everything. It gets back into the area,” he said.

Mayor and commission member Bryan Blakeman also said he is happy with the dealership’s work in the community and was especially pleased the dealership easily made three cars available to the Firestone family during their July 6 visit to the city.

On another matter, Witmer, who also co-owns the newly rebranded Best Western Plus Das Haus Inn and Suites, told the commission that the decision to partner with the nationally known brand has put the city even more on the map.

“We are seeing huge business there. We didn’t have that national exposure before,” he said.

kwhite@mojonews.com

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