The dealership, which celebrated its 27th year under the Matthews group of companies, is set to break ground on a new, state-of-the art facility on Kelsey Drive next month.
“It’s something we’re unbelievably excited to do,” says Dan Matthews, dealer principal and son of founder and president Bill Matthews.
“This is my whole life ahead of me. This is a big decision for us to do it. The building is going to be unbelievable when it’s open.”
The new building will feature a six-vehicle drive-thru for servicing drop-off, a 15-vehicle garage, 10-vehicle showroom, two-vehicle delivery stalls, outside parking for 281 models, and fully electric charging stations for the soon-to-arrive E-Golf. At 44,000 square feet, it’s more than double the size of the current location, but the basement accounts for 11,000, allowing for an indoor showroom with a capacity for up to 44 vehicles.
“That’s 44 cars we don’t have to shovel or plow, it’s 44 more cars we can show our customer base without going out in the elements,” says Matthews.
Moreover, that extra space underground is being constructed in such a way that it can be redeveloped into functional space should it get tight upstairs, which is precisely what happened at the current location that has only been home to the dealership since 2009.
“Our expansion plan for down the road is already built, and it’s built at today’s construction costs instead of an inflated cost down the road,” Matthews said.
“Down the road it gives me a huge opportunity to increase our services to our clients without having to move, without having to go through inconvenient constructions.”
As for the current location, once construction on the new facility is complete in the latter part of 2018, the Volkwagen team will move out, setting the stage for an eight-month back-to-studs renovation to set it up as a standalone Audi dealership.
Costs for the massive construction and expansion project, Matthews insists, won’t be passed on to the consumer.
“Our strategy for the growth is by increasing sales with new tactics, by increasing our loyalty targets, increasing our used car sales, increasing the level of service we provide in our sales shop, increasing the number of details we can do per day.”
As for leaving Kenmount Road, which has been home to the majority of the capital city’s major new car dealerships, Matthews says many areas were explored.
In the end, after consulting with the customer base and conducting surveys and market research, Kelsey Drive was found to be the best option.
“Kelsey Drive gives us the front exposure with the store, it gives us rear exposure to a booming highway, and the piece of property we’ve got is going to give us a major strategic advantage to our operations.”
The Kenmount Road home isn’t the only thing the Matthews will say goodbye to when the move takes place; the dealership can no longer operate under the Bill Matthews Volkswagen name. In the future, it’ll be known strictly as Volkswagen St. John’s.
“We’ll still have our family involved, still have the same core values, still have a family based business operating under the banner of our city.”