Collin Sewell wanted the new Ford-Lincoln dealership to feel more like a hotel with a simple idea in mind: car dealerships can stress people out.
Sewell Ford-Lincoln opened Tuesday at the Parks Legado Town Center, Sewell’s development hub that saw an influx of shops, restaurants and hotels built in recent years.
At more than 100,000 square feet spanning about 21 acres along Highway 191, it’s a massive facility. There’s a café serving meals, and a retail shop, E.F. Outfitters, named after Sewell’s great-grandfather, where salespeople are instructed not to prospect potential car buyers. There’s a private putting green, plaza seating and a reading lounge. There’s a self-playing piano by the Lincolns in the showroom.
“My goal was for it to be the most non-car-dealership dealership in the world,” Sewell said. “When you think about people’s greatest experiences and greatest memories, most people would not tell you they had that at a car dealership. “
The dealership was a key part of the vision for the town center development from the beginning.
But the project would suffer delay — first trouble finding contractors during the previous oil boom and more seriously when the 2017 hail storm ravaged the building as it neared completion, causing nearly a yearlong setback.
The company finally moved in with its 250-some employees and sundry equipment in a blitz during the Memorial Day weekend in time for the Tuesday opening.
“We moved all these people and all their computers and all of this merchandise, and we did it in three days,” General Manager Mike Merrill said. “It was quite amazing to see a team pull together, and put in 12 to 20 hour days and get this done so we could all be ready to work on Tuesday morning.”
The service and parts departments are more spacious but also climate controlled — something Sewell said is a rarity. For employees like Oscar Jimenez, a mechanic who has worked for the company 45 years, that means getting out of the triple-digit heat he would have endured this week at the Eighth Street dealership.
“It’s not a shop, it’s a showroom,” Jimenez said.
The company plans to show it off to potential car buyers.
The car dealership is still a car dealership. But Merrill said it’s more efficient and more comfortable for customers than the former dealership on Eighth Street.
The new campus consolidated the car dealership’s inventory, which previously sprawled across a few locations. The air conditioned parts and service center should lead to greater productivity by more comfortable workers, Sewell said.
The new campus houses 58 service bays and five quick service bays, as well as an automated carwash.
The company will now supply customers with loaner cars, instead of relying on a rental company.
There are separate drop-offs for personal and commercial vehicles.
“The white elephant is: Are prices going to go up as a result of this?” Sewell said. “And the answer to that is absolutely not.”
The former facility, at 2425 E. Eighth St., was donated to Odessa College. The college, which will get the property in July, is turning it into an auto technician training facility, Sewell Auto Tech.
The Sewell company will keep its Great Texas Oil Change nearby, along with property across the street where it sells pre-owned cars and truck modifications.
With the new dealership open, Sewell said he also expects to begin developing about 25,000 square feet of land this year for new shops and restaurants at what has become a thriving Parks Legado.
“It’s been crazy,” Sewell said. “But I’m super, super excited about what the future holds and the opportunity to serve the community.”