By Howard Greninger
TERRE HAUTE — Closed for 14 months, the site of a former Ford dealership will gain new life as a Ford dealership after Mace Lincoln-Mercury on Tuesday purchased the property on U.S. 41 about a mile south of Interstate 70.
“We have been working on this for over a year,” Terry Mace, general manager of Mace Lincoln-Mercury, said Wednesday. “Ford had been talking to us about [taking over a Ford franchise] for a while.”
The former Terre Haute Ford dealership closed in April 2008, just a month after previous franchise owner Kevin Beyrer closed dealerships in Sullivan and Paris, Ill., consolidating Ford sales in Terre Haute.
Ford Motor Co. in 2008 stated the Terre Haute franchise closed for a lack of finances.
Previous owner Mark Savoree, who opened Terre Haute Ford at 4501 S. U.S. 41 in 1998, retained ownership of the property. Mace now owns the nearly 7-acre property, along with a 30,000-square-foot showroom/repair building.
Dealerships in Sullivan and Paris, Ill., will not reopen under Mace.
What will happen to the Lincoln-Mercury dealership, as well as the present buildings owned by Mace at 629 Ohio St. and 967 Wabash Ave., remains undetermined. Lincoln-Mercury franchises are often located with other Ford dealerships, such as the closed Paris Ford-Mercury dealership in Paris, Ill.
“We are still in the planning stages, so we definitely will have Ford at the new location. We haven’t done anything about these [Lincoln-Mercury] properties yet as we wanted to be sure we had the other location secured first,” Mace said.
“We knew Ford was a much bigger market share than Lincoln-Mercury, so that is why it was such good opportunity, regardless of what happens with Lincoln-Mercury. Ford is a much bigger market share mainly because of trucks, including the commercial end of it,” he said.
“There is a lot of unknown, but we have just decided we are up to the challenge,” Mace added.
The new Mace Ford dealership, which officially remains unnamed, will likely open in late September, shortly after the dealership is expected to have an inventory of Ford vehicles.
Ford provided Mace with a letter of intent more than a month ago stating it is designated as the Ford franchise in Vigo County, Mace said, and he continued to seek the former Ford dealership site because of its location along U.S. 41 and near I-70.
Mace plans to move sales of both new and used cars to the U.S. 41 property. Mace also plans to continue to operate a body shop at its Ohio Street location. The dealership may decide to construct a new body shop at the U.S. 41 location in the future, Mace said.
The dealership will add employees, but an exact number is yet undetermined, he added.
Mace Lincoln-Mercury is managed by Terry Mace, his brother, Patrick Mace, who oversees used car sales, and sister Janet Mace, who is controller and office manager. Their father, Richard Mace, who celebrated his 80th birthday Wednesday, has long been associated with the dealership.
Richard Mace started working in the business with his father, Herb Mace, who started in the automotive business at the Ohio Street site in 1924 and opened as a new car Lincoln-Mercury dealership in 1946.
Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.