Calling it a sign of Columbia County's continued growth, local business leaders and politicians welcomed the addition of Augusta Suzuki on Thursday.
In a ceremony that included visiting Suzuki executives, more than 50 people showed up to the grand opening for Evans' newest car dealership.
"This grand opening is a superlative example of one of the things that happens in Columbia County everyday," County Commissioner Tommy Mercer said to the crowd. "At a time of economic uncertainty, Columbia County is growing."
Augusta Suzuki's owner, Jerry Spitler, and its general manager, Mike Lacey, purchased the 4-acre spot off Washington Road last year to separate the Suzuki brand from Mr. Spitler's existing Augusta Lincoln/Mercury dealership.
"This dealership is a good recognition and a good sign of the progress that Columbia County is making," said Gordon Renshaw, executive director of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.
Rick Suzuki, president of American Suzuki Motor Corp., greets Reba Sarkar at the grand opening of a new Suzuki car dealership in Evans.
Photo by Jonathan Ernst
The chamber incorporated the grand opening into its monthly networking program. Thursday's event extended the networking to out-of-state and international representatives from Suzuki's corporate levels.
American Suzuki Motor Corp. President Rick Suzuki and Hirotaka Ono, the executive general manager and board member of parent company Suzuki Motor Corp. visited the dealership to help dedicate it.
Suzuki Motor Corp., which is based in Hamamatsu, Japan, was founded in 1909 by Mr. Suzuki's grandfather. The company started marketing motorcycles in the U.S. in 1963 but didn't form its American automobile division until 1985.
"We see Suzuki's future - not just in Evans Town Center or Columbia County but also throughout the U.S.," Mr. Suzuki said. "It's a future that starts today with the opening of the Augusta Suzuki."
The dealership is the first of four pilot sales facilities American Suzuki is opening to reflect a new marketing direction and push to capture more of the U.S. car market.
Along with launching the Suzuki Square dealership concept, the company also plans to introduce nine new vehicles in the next five years.
Their goal is to triple U.S. car sales by 2007, and officials said the revamped dealerships are a cornerstone of that strategy.
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