Spokane Journal of Business

Car dealership partners here broaden affiliation

Chris Marr buys interest in K&K Motors from Ray Kish; pair eye umbrella strategy

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Spokane auto dealership co-owners Chris Marr and Ray Kish have expanded their business affiliations here, which Marr says could result in some operating efficiencies and new marketing strategies.


He says he has bought from Kish a 40 percent interest in K&K Motors Inc., of Spokane, which operates Honda of Spokane, at 8201 E. Sprague, and Acura of Spokane, at 8325 E. Sprague. Kish owns the other 60 percent of the companys stock. The two men have the same ownership split in Spokane Lincoln Mercury Sales Inc., which operates Foothills Lincoln Mercury Mazda, at 203 E. North Foothills Drive.


Combined, those companies employ more than 160 people, most of them full time, and sold more than 1,400 new cars in 1998, according to figures submitted to the Journal of Business last fall.


Marr says his recent K&K stock acquisition allows for a restructuring that really puts us, I think, in a better position to take advantage of growth opportunities through consolidation of some functions, economies of scale, and possibly cooperative marketing.


On the latter point, he says he and Kish have hired a Colorado ad agency that specializes in auto industry work to do some market research here. Were trying to take a look at customer perceptions of both (companies) stores and trying to determine whether its appropriate to establish some auto group umbrella for enhanced market presence, while still retaining each stores current operating name, he says.


Marr says he and Kish, both former Ford Motor Co. employees, have known each other for about 20 years. Marr became minority owner of Spokane Lincoln Mercury Sales in 1990. He had a small ownership interest in the Valley Honda dealership when Kish bought that business in 1991, but sold his interest not long thereafter, when the Lincoln Mercury dealership moved from downtown Spokane to its current location on Foothills Drive and he became its general manager.


In conjunction with his purchase of an interest in K&K, he says he has stepped down as Foothills general manager, and Rick Rielly, who had been general sales manager at Foothills, has been promoted to the general managers position.


I will be overseeing (Foothills) in kind of a COO (chief operating officer) capacity, and also will be acting general manager of the Honda and Acura dealerships, Marr says. He says Kish will remain president of both companies and have responsibilities comparable to those of a chief executive officer.


Satellite service center


Separately, Marr says construction is expected to begin early next month on a Foothills Lincoln Mercury Mazda satellite service center near the northeast corner of the Regal Street-Palouse Highway intersection on the South Hill.


Ford Motor Co. officials said when the $1.8 million project was announced about nine months ago that the service center, which will be called Lincoln-Mercury Auto Care, would be the first Ford-certified facility of its type in the Pacific Northwest and one of only about a dozen nationally.


Ford launched Auto Care Service Centers as a pilot concept about eight years ago to win back the service business of Ford and Lincoln-Mercury owners who take their vehicles to independent service and repair shops, rather than dealership service departments, after their warranties expire. The idea behind the Auto Care Concept is to provide geographically convenient, extended-hour neighborhood-type service, with close customer-to-technician contact and competitive rates, but using dealership-quality technology.


The two-acre site on which the service center is to be built is east of and behind the KAYU-TV building and a McDonalds restaurant. Marr says the 10-bay, 10,000-square-foot facility, which could employ up to about 16 people, is scheduled to open June 1.

Kim Crompton
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