Multimillion dollar upgrades underway at Rothrock auto campus

By - Last modified: August 30, 2013 at 10:41 AM

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Workers for Custom Facilities do renovation work for the Rothrock Motor Sales dealership in South Whitehall Township.
Workers for Custom Facilities do renovation work for the Rothrock Motor Sales dealership in South Whitehall Township. - (Photo By Brian Pedersen)

Car buyers can see multimillion dollar construction upgrades at a local dealership spurred by a growing customer base, manufacturer demands and a desire for environmentally friendly enhancements.

The dealership is performing renovations on two buildings and constructing a new building – all on the Rothrock Motor Sales campus visible along busy Route 22 in Lehigh County.

The building under full renovation will become the new Dodge Chrysler Jeep and Ram dealership and full service shop, said Bob Bertsch, manager of the collision center at Rothrock Motor Sales on Mauch Chunk Road in South Whitehall Township. “Across the street from it, we are building a brand new body shop,” he said.

At 19,000 square feet, the new collision center [body shop] is due to open Jan. 1, Bertsch said.

The collision center has 18 employees, and Bertsch told Lehigh Valley Business he’s hoping to get that number to 24 by Jan. 1. The dealership broke ground on the collision center project this summer.

There are three upgrades. In addition to the new Lehigh Valley Collision Center, owned by Rothrock, renovations at the Dodge Chrysler Jeep and Ram dealership will include a sales showroom plus stand-alone service and parts department. The other building also planned for renovations is Rothrock’s Nissan dealership with a sales showroom and its own stand-alone service and parts department.

“Our facility is from 1976, so it’s time for a change,” said Ron Carl, director of operations for Rothrock Motor Sales. “It definitely stood the test of time, it was used hard.”

Carl said each auto manufacturer wants to have its own separate building to serve customers. Planned energy-saving enhancements include motion-sensor lighting in the lots and inside the facilities, Carl added.

Customer demand also is driving the renovations, he said.

“Chrysler Group is really on the rise … [and] the Nissan brand is also increasing in sales,” he said.

He did not have percentages, but said the numbers often change month to month.

For the month of July, sales of the Nissan brand in the U.S. increased 10.9 percent year-over-year to 109,041 units, mainly a result of higher demand for the Altima, Pathfinder, Rogue and Nissan LEAF, according to a report from www.nissannews.com.

While Carl did not provide an exact cost figure for the renovations and new construction, he estimated it to be a multimillion project.

Work on the Nissan dealership should start in September, Carl said. For the renovation, the dealership is tearing down portions of the structures and reusing some of the steel and parts of both buildings.

Custom Facilities of Indianapolis, Ind., is the construction company.

“We’re hoping the entire campus should be done sometime next summer,” Carl said. “With 100,000 cars a day on Route 22 going past our facility, we have such a huge footprint.”

Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh and read his blog, “Can You Dig It,” at http://www.lvb.com/section/can-you-dig-it.

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