The Lucas Ford dealership in Southold is planning a makeover and looking to nearly double in size.
Owner Howie Lucas said in an interview Monday that Ford Motor Company is assisting its dealerships with upgrading their facilities and has drafted a modern look for his business.
In 2012, Mr. Lucas sold his previous showroom on Main Road in Peconic to Greenport Harbor Brewing. He said now is a good time to expand his location on Hortons Lane in Southold because sales have been strong over the past five years and his business has outgrown the space.
“The focus is enhancing customer service,” Mr. Lucas said.
The amended site plan includes constructing a 9,200-square-foot service area, as well as alterations to the existing 12,000-square-foot building, according to town documents.
The upgrade comes nearly 25 years after Mr. Lucas first opened his family-owned dealership.
In 1956, his father, Howard Sr., started working at a Ford dealership in Huntington and became manager a few years later.
“At an early age, I just fell in love with automobiles,” Mr. Lucas recalled. “I started working on them when I was 12. I also bought my first car when I was 12. It was a ‘63 Mazda. I just bought it and I couldn’t drive it, but my father would bring it up to the high school on Sundays with the dealer plate and teach me how to drive.”
Mr. Lucas started selling cars in 1975 and later became the manager at the Huntington dealership, running it with his father. In the 1980s, the father-and-son team decided go into business themselves and opened the Ford dealership in Southold in November 1989.
“This was called an open point — there was no dealer here [on the North Fork] but they wanted one,” Mr. Lucas said. “We presented our business plan to Ford and they accepted it. Then we built the building and we’ve been here ever since.”
His son, David, started working at the dealership five years ago and now manages the pre-owned vehicle department.
Mr. Lucas also described his son as “the driving force” behind bringing in plug-in hybrids and electric models and said his dealership is selling more of those types of vehicles compared to larger stores. He attributes the success to local residents being more conscious about protecting the environment.
His dealership has won Ford’s highest honor, “President’s Award,” eight times (most recently in 2012) for having outstanding customer service and sales.
Mr. Lucas said he hopes to build on his company’s success with the planned construction, which features an expanded customer lounge, Wi-Fi expansion, new flooring and more open spaces for offices. There will be a covered delivery area and an indoor drive-in service station for customers dropping off their vehicles, among other upgrades.
The project also includes a new showroom, which Mr. Lucas said is needed since Ford has expanded its truck line and also introduced over 20 new vehicle models last year.
“We’re hoping this takes us into the next 25 years,” he said.
The Southold Town Planning Board has scheduled a May 4 public hearing to discuss the proposal.