Lou Fusz to open standalone Jeep dealership
O’Fallon, Mo.— “It’s a Jeep thing” and Lou Fusz Chrysler Dodge Jeep understands good and well what it means to embrace a growing market for the off-road product. General Manager Mark Mercer and Service Manager Brad Hubbard say they are about to take the dealership to the next level. Opening in early 2018, one of just a few standalone Jeep dealership/service centers in the U.S.
“We are very excited to be given this opportunity to expand our dealership. The new building will be right next door to our current location here and will be a brand-new building with all new equipment,” Mercer said.
The growing market and customer appeal for Jeep has opened that door for Lou Fusz to open their new facility and is going to be a place for new Jeep products and service to be showcased for many years to come.
“We are looking forward to being a part of this new endeavor, which will also provide a place for big things to happen there,” Mercer said. “Before, it would at a typical multi-line dealership. In early 2018, the new Wrangler will be coming out and shortly after that a new full-size Jeep pickup and expectations of the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer which are both expected to come to market in the next couple of years.”
Currently, the dealership is operating a multi-make service and sales department that has outgrown itself when it comes to Jeep.
“We are doing all of our service and Jeep modifications and customization out of the same service center that handles Chrysler and Dodge, as well,” Hubbard said. “We will definitely enjoy the extra space next door.”
The new location will also provide an opportunity for adding sales staff and technicians to handle the new workload, Mercer said. “We will be bringing on more staff to help handle the opening and operation of the Jeep facility. We will be bringing over our current staff, but will definitely offer new opportunities for technicians and sales staff, which is also good for our area.”
The increase in Jeep sales, specifically Wrangler, have had a major impact on the dealership in recent years. “We have seen Jeep and Wrangler sales rise due to a few factors. It is not a new make by any means, but the Jeep lifestyle has appealed to a much broader audience than it has in the past. Jeep is not just for the trail-riding crowd anymore. There are so many ways to make Jeep, especially Wranglers, more appealing than ever before and we have embraced that and hope to carry over the momentum to the new location,” Mercer said.
Jeep customizations are a critical part of the dealership’s success, Hubbard added. Most of the customizations are requested at the time of purchase of a new Wrangler and the work is performed in-house by staff technicians.
“We have a few guys dedicated to do most of the work on the customization jobs here in our shop,” he said. “We can do pretty much anything that a customer asks for aside from things like rear end swaps and engine modifications. We do a lot of bumpers, wenches, step bars, tires, lighting, lift kits, and audio jobs. We do intake kits and custom exhaust jobs, as well, when requested.”
Hubbard and Mercer both added that the reason they do most of the customizations on newer vehicles and stay away from engine and drivetrain enhancements is that it may affect the vehicles factory warranty.
Recently, the dealership had a customer spend $20,000 on customizations alone. “We did a little of everything on that one. We did custom wheels and tires, LED lighting — which required installing a new junction box — a new audio touch screen system, and an intake kit,” Mercer said.
Most of the parts and components for customization comes from VIP Distributing, which is almost an in-house provider for Lou Fusz and other local dealerships. They also use Mopar’s line of custom accessories when available.
“VIP has a huge inventory of custom parts for many makes and models,” Mercer said. “They are close by and provide quick delivery on most items because they are in stock. We use a lot of products from manufacturers like DV8 and Vision Wheel. They have a huge line of products that can be used on Jeep and Wranglers, specifically. If we need it, they can get it.”