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Grass Valley Ford Lincoln Mercury coming to Auburn

By: Andrew DiLuccia, Journal Motoring Editor
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It’s been a busy week on the Auburn Auto Mile. On Monday, Auburn Buick Pontiac GMC became the third dealership to close its doors in the last seven months. Thursday, a new dealership was making itself at home in North Auburn. Grass Valley Ford Lincoln Mercury is making the move down the Grass Valley Highway to North Auburn and the former Maita Ford Mercury property. The new dealership, which has been in Grass Valley for the past 28 years, is currently in the process of upgrading the facility at 1650 Grass Valley Highway and will be open for business on Friday, Jan. 2, 2009. “In my opinion it’s one of the best locations for an automobile dealership in Auburn,” said Grass Valley Ford Lincoln Mercury co-owner Don Neronde Sr. “When you look for a business, you need location, location, location. We think sales will increase and we have the opportunity to sell to Placer County residents and Nevada County residents. We see a better sales position and service position — bottom line.” The dealership, which Don Neronde Sr. owns with his son, Don Neronde Jr., will open under the name Auburn Ford Lincoln Mercury, and will offer up to 100 used and 100 new vehicles. The Nerondes also own Roseville Lincoln Mercury on Douglas Boulevard. The reason for the move was based on market research by Ford Motor Co. The Dearborn, Mich., automaker found that keeping a Ford dealership in the Auburn area would be the best option to maximize the company’s sales and service presence. “The powers that be in Detroit felt the logical location to service the whole foothills would be in the Auburn area,” Neronde Sr. said. “I made a deal with Vince Maita for the place. That’s the bottom line to the whole thing.” The Nerondes will miss the Grass Valley community, and said they’ve enjoyed the almost three decades worth of business they’ve conducted there, and will continue to serve it. To keep those Grass Valley customers coming back to the dealership, they will offer shuttles to take customers home to Grass Valley after bringing their cars to Auburn for service. The dealership will also offer the same service to Auburn-area residents. The Nerondes are happy to have such an expanded service area, which allows the dealership to service vehicles weighing under 40,000 pounds. The new site features 21 service bays, as opposed to their current number of 11. “Four acres and 21 bays will handle a lot of folks,” Neronde Jr. said. Grass Valley Ford Lincoln Mercury will be bringing its staff down to Auburn, but it will also hire more employees. Already, Neronde Sr. said he has hired some former Maita Ford Mercury employees, and a few more could be hired in the future. The dealership will start off with a staff of 38 and will expand up to 45, according to Neronde Sr. While the new business will be bringing back the Ford and Mercury nameplates, it will also bring a new one to the region — Lincoln. “There’s never been a Lincoln dealer in Auburn,” Neronde Sr. said. “It’s always been Ford Mercury.” Neronde Sr. also has a Nissan dealership in Grass Valley, and said that there has been talk about it also coming to Auburn, but that possibility is in the discussion phase. “Nissan is up in the air right now, we’re talking about it with Nissan, about coming down there as well, but we’re not finalized yet,” Neronde Sr. said. With the closure of several new car dealerships over the last several months in the Auburn region, the business community is happy to see a new one dot the landscape. “We are really happy they’re coming to the community. It’s great to have another auto dealership step into the Maita Ford site,” said Bruce Cosgrove, Auburn Chamber of Commerce CEO. “It’s going to be good for our local economy, it’s definitely going to be good for the Highway 49 corridor. It’s going to bring some jobs, that’s important.” In the meantime, it’s a juggling act between the dealership in Grass Valley and readying the Auburn site for its opening in January. “We’re just ready to go, we’re ready to get to Jan. 2,” Neronde Jr. said. “We’re just ready to get going.” The Journal’s Andrew DiLuccia can be reached at andrewd@goldcountrymedia.com or post a comment at Auburnjournal.com.