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Springfield dealer grows as auto sales improve

Jeff Wyler invests millions, adds new jobs for new complex.

The Jeff Wyler Automotive Group is investing millions into a new Chevrolet dealership on West First Street, adding jobs as auto sales have begun to recover across the U.S.

The 30,000 square-foot dealership at 2237 W. First St. represents more than a $6 million investment in facilities and construction, and another $6 million in inventory, said Jeff Wyler, who opened his first dealership in Batavia, Ohio, in 1973.

Next to the Chevrolet dealership, Wyler is also building a new Toyota dealership, which is expected to open next spring. One mile away on Hillcrest Avenue, the company also has its Springfield auto mall that opened in 2000, but Wyler had outgrown that facility.

By opening the new Chevrolet dealership, and the Toyota dealership next year, Wyler said it will free up space at the auto mall to add Hyundai, Kia and Chrysler products. According to documents filed with the city, the new Chevrolet dealership building alone was estimated to cost close to $2 million in construction. The nearby Toyota dealership is projected to cost between $1 million and $1.3 million.

In the long run, Wyler said he also hopes to spur development in the area nearby. The roughly 18-acre Chevrolet dealership sits on ground that Wyler described as essentially bad ground that was not being used for farming or other purposes.

“We hope this will be the first of many projects we’re doing in Springfield,” Wyler said.

The company will also add a handful of employees as the dealership opens. Wyler said the company had 139 employees at the beginning of the year, but increased by 12 to 151.

Area business officials who attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday said Wyler’s investment will be beneficial to the area.

“Today, Jeff Wyler is taking a chance,” said Jim Lagos, a member of the board of directors for the Community Improvement Corporation of Springfield and Clark County. “He’s taking a chance on Springfield.”

The company is growing at a time when auto sales have begun to improve nationally overall since the end of the recent recession. Nationally, new light vehicles sales increased 13.4 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year, according to information from the National Automobile Dealers Association. Pent-up demand and incentives were cited as significant reasons for the bump in sales.

Overall, the Wyler Automotive Family operates 12 dealerships in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, selling more than 30,000 new and used vehicles annually.

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