May 4, 2017 – West Bend, WI – There’s a Honda car dealership coming to West Bend.
Morrie’s Automotive Group of Minneapolis was officially awarded “the point” in April.
“We’re excited to open a Honda store in West Bend,” said Karl Schmidt, CEO with Morrie’s since 2009.
“They are specific in their naming structure so it would be Honda of West Bend or Morrie’s Honda –something like that.”
Schmidt was in West Bend on Friday, April 28 scouting properties. “We met with Ben Weiland from CBRE and we flew over and looked at real estate and made a few calls,” Schmidt said.
An exact location for the new dealership is expected to be determined within the next week; the new store should be operational in 12 months.
“In order for that to happen we have to start construction in 4 to 5 months from now,” Schmidt said. “The manufacturer has an expectation to function on five acres and the store will probably have $60 to $70 million in total revenue selling 1,500 to 2,000 new and used cars a year.”
Mayor Kraig Sadownikow said the Morrie’s group sounds a bit like “the Twin Cities version of Russ Darow.”
“It’s absolutely exciting for West Bend,” said Sadownikow. “Honda is a big name and not only from a development standpoint but bringing visitors from outside the area; we’re looking for that.”
In terms of another car dealership coming to West Bend, Sadownikow said overall the city’s business base is pretty well rounded.
“It’s a positive we’re an attractant for a national automobile dealer franchise,” he said. “It’s a positive our community is being recognized as being viable not just for Ford, Chevy, GMC and Chevy which we’ve had for a long, long time but now Nissan and Honda taking a look at West Bend is important.”
Craig Sorbo, general manager of Russ Darrow Chrysler, said West Bend will be a good fit for Honda. “The more the merrier; it’s just going to drive more people to this community,” he said.
Sorbo talked about a strong bond with other area auto dealers like Heiser and Boucher. “Right now everybody’s on the same page and we want to do what’s best for the community, what’s best for the customers and I think this is great.”
The new Honda dealership will be full service; carrying new and used vehicles, parts and service.
“We’ll bring 60 to 70 new jobs, which is exciting for the area and for us,” said Schmidt. “We love the Wisconsin market and hope to be a good partner in the area and do well.”
On a side note:
-Morrie’s has a Mazda store between Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire. “We do very well and it’s one of our highest performing stores,” said Schmidt.
– The closest Honda dealership is 91st and Brown Deer Road in Milwaukee. There’s also a dealership in Appleton and Sheboygan.
-Karl Schmidt is originally from Galesville, Wisconsin. His father still lives on the dairy farm and he has a sister in Cedarburg.
– Morrie’s Auto Group has a variety of brands including Hyundai, Nissan, Lincoln, Cadillac, three Mazda stores, two Subaru stores, and two Ford stores, Maserati, Aston Martin and it just acquired Honda. Morrie’s also has a luxury line called Genesis.
– Schmidt’s review of Honda. “Honda is one of the brands we’ve always kind of coveted and it fits how we do business. Honda has a really good loyal customer base, they’re consistent in their product development and they’re economical and safe. The people are great organizationally at Honda. They do a nice job and the stores are well run across the country. The stores are profitable and the biggest driver to us is we can better serve our customers.”
-Morrie’s Automotive Group started as a family business by Morrie Wagener in the early 1960s. Wagener worked with imports in the Twin Cities area and over the years acquired different franchises and built the business. Schmidt started with the company in 1988. In 2016 Wagener sold the business to Schmidt and New York-based investment firm Fremont Private Holdings out of San Francisco.