Adcox no more, Toyota expands across Lee Highway to former Chevy dealership

Adcox no more, Toyota expands across Lee Highway to former Chevy dealership

April 26th, 2014 by Ellis Smith in Business Around the Region

Capital Toyota will expand across the street to the former Herb Adcox Chevrolet dealership, renovating the old structure to bring it into line with Toyota's design standards. The dealership will double the number of used cars Capital Toyota can maintain on the lot.

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Capital car sales:

2012 -- 800

2013 -- 1105

2014 (projected) -- 1,400

Source: Capital Toyota

Current capacity:

* New Toyota: 254

* Pre-owned Toyota: 117

* New Lexus: 75

* Service bays: 24

New capacity:

* New Toyota: 254

* Pre-owned Toyota: 250

* New Lexus: 75

* Service bays: 49

Source: Capital Toyota

Capital Toyota will nearly double in size by the end of May, as Tennessee's original Toyota dealer gasses up a growth plan that could drive it to the top of the podium as the Scenic City's volume dealer.

The $750,000 expansion at the vacant 6.5-acre former Herb Adcox Chevrolet site will add 30 new workers to the formerly landlocked Lee Highway location, double the number of service bays and roughly double the number of pre-owned cars on the lot to 250 vehicles, officials said.

"That lot will hold a ton of cars," said Gene McGee, operations director at Capital Toyota.

In addition to the front lot at the new location, a screened-in back area will allow the dealership to store excess new car inventory, potentially tripling the number of cars.

"We want to be Chattanooga's largest volume dealer," said Ed Emerson, sales manager at Capital Toyota. "And when you start spending the kind of money with Toyota that we're spending to update the facility, you earn additional units."

So far, a lack of space has been the greatest obstacle to the dealership's goal of consistently outselling rival dealer Toyota of Cleveland. Surrounded by businesses on all sides, Capital Toyota hasn't had any room to grow.

That ended when General Motors cut off the supply of cars to Chevy dealer Herb Adcox during the automaker's government-assisted bailout as part of a strategy to reduce the number of dealers in its network. Adcox was forced to close down as his inventory dwindled.

Adcox, a longtime friend of Capital Toyota owner Bob McKamey, has already allowed McKamey to use another adjacent lot for pre-owned vehicles. The latest expansion will allow McKamey's Toyota dealership to fully occupy Adcox's empty showroom, including more than two-dozen service bays and a large front lot next to the airport.

The new facade of Adcox's old showroom will conform to Toyota's latest specifications, as it transforms into the center of Capital Toyota's pre-owned operations. McKamey's nearby Lexus dealership, as well as Capital Toyota's existing new car dealership will remain as-is.

"Toyota is behind us here," Emerson said. "They see that we've got a lot of industry coming in here that contributes to our local economy. That means more people buying cars."

Toyota's U.S. auto sales jumped 5 percent in March to more than 215,300 cars from 205,300 in March 2013, the automaker reported. Toyota is the third-largest U.S. automaker by volume after GM and Ford. For comparison, Volkswagen, which builds Passats at its $1 billion Chattanooga plant, sold just 36,700 cars in March, slightly down from March 2013.

Contact staff writer Ellis Smith, 423-757-6315 or esmith@timesfreepress.com with tips and documents.