Webber family opens new Ford facility in DL
Only about eight months ago, they were breaking ground on a lot northeast of Menards.
Now on that lot, a 25,000-square-foot, modern building looms across the seven acres of developed property.
A familiar Ford theme of blue and silver shines in the light, reflecting the sun's rays onto equally shiny rows of Ford vehicles that fill the sales lot.
It's the fruition of a plan that brothers Jeff and Brock Webber, along with their father, John, have been working on since the day they started their Webber Family Ford business in Detroit Lakes five years ago.
"We knew when we started, we were going to want to build new somewhere," said Jeff Webber. "The old building (located along Highway 59 south) just didn't have much life left in it."
The Webber brothers, who grew up with their father's car businesses in North Dakota, eyeballed the Wenner Road location because of its size and drive-by traffic flow.
Their decision to make the big move and invest in a new, multi-million dollar facility was cemented by a few factors: they had outgrown their ever-growing service department, their families had all moved to Detroit Lakes and innovation seemed to be running rampant in their factories.
"Between the five franchises ... Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and Ford, I would say within the last two years and this year, every single vehicle will be new, so that's kind of exciting for us," said Brock Webber, adding that they knew they'd have the product lines to support their move -- a move that physically only took a weekend.
"We started moving on a Friday, opened here last Monday, and kept selling cars the whole time," said Brock.
Although the old facility had almost as much square footage, it was split between buildings.
Now, the more efficient, customer-friendly Ford building encompasses everything from the lobby and waiting area, to a larger service department to a brand new Quick Lane.
"This is for quick oil changes, maintenance, tires, brakes ... that sort of thing," said Brock, as Jeff adds, "there's no appointment necessary, six days a week and it's got extended hours, so it's very much with the customer in mind. They can take their cars in when it's more convenient for them."
Convenience is the name of the game at the new Webber Family Ford, as the facility also has a drive-in area that will hold up to five vehicles.
"So you can just pull right up to the doors and they will automatically open, so if it's snowing or cold or rainy, they can just pull in," said Jeff.
A new state of the art customer lounge not only has a viewing area where customers can watch their cars being worked on, but has all the creature comforts that make waiting bearable.
"The lounge has a lot nicer furniture, a couple of TV's, a cappuccino and hot chocolate machine and three different types of coffee and wireless internet," said Brock, "It's a much nicer, more relaxed experience as they wait for their cars."
Not only did the Webbers hire about 15 more employees to handle the new Quick Lane and expanded service department, but more space also allowed them to expand their inventory.
They went from having a two-showroom facility to having six showrooms.
They also went from having 60 tires in stock, to roughly 400.
Ford also gave them more inventory to display on their sales lot.
The Webbers say they hope all this will allow them to provide the type of customer service that earns the business of a community that has supported them over the past five years.
"And that's another reason why it was very important for us to have all of this built using local contractors, too," said Jeff. "Every job here was done by somebody local."
The new Webber Family Ford is open six days a week. The Quick Lane is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Sales are open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.