Steering toward the future
Bev Smith begins renovations at Toyota site, plans new building at Kia dealership
BY JOE DESALVO
A major renovation and expansion project at Bev Smith Toyota, located at 3350 South U.S. Highway 1 in Fort Pierce, will get underway this spring to accommodate continued business growth.
Frank Gonzalez, Bev Smith Automotive Group vice president, said the building will be completely gutted and then expanded. The front portion will be extended outward to where the customer parking spaces are located.
The renovation involves three firms having vast experience in similar automotive projects, several being Toyota dealerships.
MH Williams Construction Group in Melbourne is the general contractor. Patrick Swift of Penney Design Group in Bethesda, Maryland, is the architect. ID Automotive, based in Fort Lauderdale, will be managing the project for Bev Smith Toyota.
Nick Hare, project manager for MH Williams, said the existing building will be expanded to 13,570 square feet. A new building, being built on the land to the north, will be 7,332 square feet.
Completion is anticipated for the end of this year or early 2024, Hare said.
Business will not be interrupted during the dealership’s transformation. Modular office space is in place and will serve as temporary homes for various departments, including management, sales team, service writers, service management, parts, body shop, trucks and rental. In addition, there will be a waiting area for customers in the trailers.
The offices in the renovated store will have a new look and feel.
“We’ll have brand new furniture and offices will be wrapped all the way around,” said Phelicia Traver, executive assistant to Gonzalez. “It’ll be set up a little bit differently.”
MH Williams and ID Automotive are excited to bring the design to life for the dealership group.
“MH Williams Construction Group is proud to have been selected for the modernization and expansion of the Bev Smith Toyota facilities to better serve their customers,” Hare said. “We look forward to working with the Bev Smith Automotive Group on this project and many more in the future.”
ID Automotive is equally proud to be involved, says Martin Meissner, program manager and program marketing director.
“We’re very excited to work with the team there,” he said. “It’s going to be a significant change to the face of the store to the customer — both inside and out.
“It’s going to bring the facility up to Toyota’s current image guidelines nationally that they have,” Meissner said. “So, it’s going to be a whole new face to the store and I think the customer experience is going to be fresh and exciting.
“It’s going to be a great project for the community,” Meissner added. “It’s going to be a beautiful new store.”
Toyota has had a presence in the Fort Pierce area for more than 50 years — all in the same location at the south end of town. Nick Smith, who helped his father, Bev, make Bev Smith Ford of West Palm Beach one of the top Ford dealerships in the country, bought Fort Pierce Toyota in 1992. Three years later, he broke ground on a new dealership that would receive Toyota’s branded design.
Gonzalez was hired as general manager in 1997 and became a partner in Smith’s company in 2001. They opened Bev Smith Kia in 2006 at 5655 South U.S. 1 in White City.
KIA GETTING MODERN LOOK
Plans call for the Kia dealership to receive a completely new building once the Toyota project is done, according to Gonzalez.
“It’s going to be very modern,” he said. “We’re going to expand the service area in the back. And bring used-car sales across U.S. 1 to the 10-acre property we own.”
Meissner confirmed ID Automotive will be involved with the Kia project in a similar role to that of the Toyota renovation.
“Probably in short order after we finish the Toyota store, and even before the Toyota store is done, we’ll be moving down the street and doing some work on the Kia site, too,” Meissner said.
“They’re really investing a lot into their stores for the community and I think that’s really great,” he added.
As for MH Williams Construction Group being the general contractor for that job, Hare said, “No final arrangements have been made, but that is the intent of the owner and MH Williams.”
Bev Smith Automotive Group has 150 employees at its Toyota dealership and 75 at the Kia location, according to Gonzalez.
Gonzalez says there are no plans to expand the company’s presence in the area.
“We have a lot going on,” Gonzalez said. “So, taking on another store is not in the picture at the moment. Right now, we want to make what we have better.”
BEV SMITH KIA
3350 South U.S. 1
BEV SMITH KIA
5655 South U.S. 1
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