Fernley is getting its first-ever new car dealership, thanks to the persistence of the owners of Reno Dodge.
Ground has already been broken on the new dealership, Fernley Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM, located on a site at 1395 Newlands Drive.
The 15,000-square-foot facility will feature new and used car sales and a full-service certified parts and service department.
Don Weir, the second-generation owner of Reno Dodge, along with co-owner Moe Golshani, had been in talks with its parent, Chrysler to open a dealership in rural northern Nevada since 2013, although Weir had previously had eyes on the area for several years prior.
Chrysler initially handpicked Fallon as its desired location, but the Reno Dodge leaders argued that Fernley was a better option.
“I knew I wanted to be along the I-80 corridor, and I knew Fernley was growing faster than expected, more than Fallon,” Weir said. “Fernley is going to grow a lot in the next five to six years, and we’re going to be on the ground floor of that.”
So Weir, backed by economic development reports compiled by the University of Nevada, Reno, made a pitch to place the proposed dealership in the burgeoning community.
But Chrysler was bullish on its intention to build a dealership in Fallon at least until one of its representatives came to scout Fernley for himself.
“After about a year when they said no (to Fernley), he came to visit me. What he didn’t tell me was he really came up to look at Fernley,” Weir said. “He had all the numbers we had supplied to (Chrysler’s headquarters in Detroit) and went out to looked around the area. He came back to my office and said, ‘You were right, Fernley is where we such put a dealership! I’m going back there to fight for it.’”
So, as Weir added, Fernley became the new potential home for the proposed Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM dealership.
Chrysler prodded Weir to get development under way and obtained a two-year letter of intent from the parent to finish construction by summer of this year. But finding and purchasing land for the site proved to be a challenge. They finally acquired land near 1-80 to build the facility.
“I had to go on four different negotiations on four different sites,” Weir said. “I’d get into right in the middle of negotiations and they’d back out.”
Weir is optimistic the construction will be completed and ready to open by summer of this year, although there could be snags such as inclement weather in the meantime. Dennis Banks Construction is the general contractor handling the construction process.
The total price tag of the project is estimated around $5 million with Weir taking care of the cost.
Signage for the facility is one detail that still needs to be ironed out, particularly reconciling local government regulations with the Chrysler brand requirements. Weir said he wants it to be easily visible from the interstate.
The dealership is expected to employ 30-35 people, while first taking a look at the Fernley-area workforce. Weir with working with officials on recruiting efforts. They may put together a job fair or launch a recruitment effort of some kind in the future as construction nears completion.
Once it’s finally up and running, Weir expects the dealership to flourish, and hopes to capture business from communities along the highway including Winnemucca, Lovelock, Elko along with other areas such as Tonopah, Austin and Yerington. Even residents in Sparks and surrounding areas may find it even easier to travel to Fernley to purchase a new vehicle rather than Reno.
Its also situated in a heavy traffic area, with department stores like Walmart and restaurants nearby.
Weir indicated the dealership also intends to sell Jeep-branded vehicles, which appears to be in strong demand in rural areas.
Another incentive for potential buyers is that vehicles purchased in Fernley can be serviced in the Reno Dodge dealership, a convenience that can be enticing for people who frequent the Truckee Meadows.
Service technicians will be certified by Chrysler and be able to work on any make or model, car or truck.