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Published: Tuesday, 10/1/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

‘Rural’ Rouen gets $2M upgrade

Out-of-way dealer marks expansion

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
Rouen Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram expands its showroom and creates a customer-friendly service area after a major rebuild at its facility outside Woodville, Ohio. Rouen Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram expands its showroom and creates a customer-friendly service area after a major rebuild at its facility outside Woodville, Ohio.
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WOODVILLE, Ohio — Three miles outside a town of about 2,000 people seems an unlikely place for a busy new-car dealership.

Yet there Rouen Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram sits, Jeep Wranglers and Dodge Challengers surrounded by Wood County soybeans and cornstalks. And rather than a hindrance, owner Mike Rouen said the unusual location is actually one of his top assets.

“There’s an awful lot of small towns out here that are serviced by Route 20 and Route 23,” he said Tuesday. “If you’re coming from the city, yeah, it’s out in the middle of nowhere. But if you live out here, it’s actually a very convenient location.”

Mr. Rouen’s team is putting the finishing touches on a 20,000-square-foot showroom and sales building that replaced an aging structure dating from at least the mid-1960s. The dealership began working out of the new building Sept. 23 and held a grand opening event Tuesday evening.

The dealership spent about $2 million for the upgrades, which included expanding the parking lot and adding enclosed areas to deliver new cars to customers and take service orders.

Mr. Rouen has owned the dealership, northwest of Woodville, for 28 years. He replaced the service area in the late 1980s and said it was high time to upgrade the old showroom. Chrysler is also pushing its dealerships to spruce up their stores in line with the company's corporate image.

“All the auto manufacturers are really on a mission to get the dealers to upgrade to their current standards,” Mr. Rouen said. “Chrysler was very nice about it. They weren’t high-pressure or anything, but they have their subtle ways of influencing us.”

The new building also follows an industry trend of giving customers a more posh feel. The dealership has added wireless Internet, a coffee lounge waiting area with a big-screen television, and a kids play area.

Owner Mike Rouen and his daughter, Nicole Hopkins, marketing manager, have expanded their Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram showroom, following a trend to offer customers amenities such as a coffee lounge waiting area, big-screen television, and a kids’ play area. Owner Mike Rouen and his daughter, Nicole Hopkins, marketing manager, have expanded their Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram showroom, following a trend to offer customers amenities such as a coffee lounge waiting area, big-screen television, and a kids’ play area.
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While customers at a rural Dodge store may not have the same expectations as urban buyers in a Lexus dealership, the added touches are still appreciated, Mr. Rouen said.

“We were way behind in what we had,” he said.

Rouen remained open through the work, with salesmen working out of temporary trailers. In spite of that, the dealership has enjoyed a second year of good sales growth. Truck sales have been especially strong.

“We’re up like 40 percent in truck sales,” Mr. Rouen said. “That product is on fire for us. A lot of our small contractors are finally replacing their vehicles, farmers are replacing their vehicles, and also the lower price of fuel is really helping us.”

The dealership employs about 50 people.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134.



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