Spokane Journal of Business

Hallmark Hyundai fixes up interior of dealership here

Spokane Valley business does remodel to get ready to handle new luxury car

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Hallmark Hyundai, of Spokane Valley, is nearing completion of a remodel of the interior of its dealership building at 8801 E. Sprague.

Co-owner Denny Waltermire says the dealership launched the remodel mostly to accommodate the arrival, expected next month, of Hyundai's Equus luxury car.

"We've been in this building for 10 years," Waltermire says. "It needed it."

Separately, Hallmark Hyundai bought the Suzuki dealership here from Wendle Motors Inc. about a month and a half ago, he says.

The move gives the dealership two all-wheel-drive sedans, the Suzuki Kizashi and SX4, and a pickup, the Suzuki Equator. Hyundai doesn't offer vehicles in those categories, Waltermire says.

Hallmark Hyundai is remodeling its showroom, sales manager's office, customer waiting area, receptionist's area, parts counter, service area, and restrooms, Waltermire says. He says new ceilings, new lighting, new wall surfaces, and new wainscoting have been put in. He declines to release a cost figure for the interior remodel.

"We haven't touched the exterior, though. That is the next phase, assuming business stays good," Waltermire says.

Pete Lothian Construction, of Liberty Lake, is handling the remodeling work, which was designed by the Seattle office of Facility Design Services Inc., a Roswell, Ga., architectural firm that was recommended by Hyundai Motors USA, the Fountain Valley, Calif.-based U.S. arm of Hyundai, a Korean car maker, Waltermire says.

"They want us to look a certain way" to handle the Equus car, he says, and adds that the remodeling is only one of the steps the dealership was required to take to sell the new vehicle.

"Not every Hyundai dealership is going to handle this new Equus," he says. "It's up to the dealership."

On Dec. 9, Hyundai Motors USA will fly into Spokane a team to train all 41 of Hallmark Hyundai's employees, from service, parts, sales, and customer service, in the handling of the new vehicle, Waltermire says.

"If we want to play, we have to be trained to do it their way," he says.

The Equus car will come in two models, the $58,000 Signature and the $64,500 Ultimate, and is intended to be competitive with Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes automobiles, Waltermire says.

"We are very competitively priced in that market," he says. "It's a unique car."

Waltermire says Hyundai sold 80,000 cars in the U.S. in 1997, its first year in the U.S. market, but will sell more than 500,000 vehicles in the U.S. this year.

Hallmark Hyundai bought its dealership building in 1999 from Spokane-area auto dealer George Gee, whose Pontiac-GMC dealership was located there until he moved it into new quarters visible from Interstate 90 not far from the Liberty Lake interchange.

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