Marysville car dealerships take bridge to Yuba City
With Geweke Kia heading to Yuba City and John L. Sullivan's Dodge/Chrysler showroom set to move over the bridge early next year, Marysville will be without a new-car dealership for the first time since the 1920s.
The changes represent roughly $360,000 in lost sales tax revenue annually for the struggling historic Gold Rush town.
"Obviously, it's not a good thing for us," said City Manager Walter Munchheimer. "It's like kicking us when we're down."
Geweke will begin selling Kias out of the Geweke Auto Group complex off Highway 99 in Yuba City this week, south of the group's Ford dealership, according to Marketing Director Nancy Geweke.
Construction on a sleek Kia showroom adjacent to the Yuba City Ford dealership property is nearing completion. The company is in the process of hiring 10 employees.
Until the facility is ready to open, sales and other functions will be carried out from the Ford dealership.
John L. Sullivan, which has been in Marysville since 2006, is poised to leave in January.
The Sullivan Auto Group, based in Roseville, purchased the Fifth Street dealership after then-owner Don McCullough died.
Plans to move to Yuba City were in the works, but were scrapped in 2009 after the economic collapse. It is now planning to locate at Highway 20 and Harter Parkway.
The new-car business in Marysville dates to at least 1929, when Clyde William opened a Chevrolet dealership.
Rosemary Daoust, vice president and Marysville branch manager for Rabobank, said her husband's grandfather, Felix Daoust, bought the business from William in the 1930s.
It had been a profitable enterprise in a thriving city.
In the 34 years that she has been here, Daoust said, "I've watched a slow and steady demise."
Yuba City has expanded in all directions during that time.
"But we're hemmed in by the ring levees," Daoust said. "I don't know what's sustainable in Marysville anymore."
Geweke's primary investment in the area has been in Yuba City from the start.
The 44-year-old business expanded to the Mid-Valley 25 years ago, according to Nancy Geweke.
In 1998, the company began selling a then-new brand of car, the Kia, in Marysville, at the base of the 10th Street bridge. The brand is the fastest growing in the country.
The Marysville property is too small, said Nancy Geweke.
The new space in Yuba City will allow inventory to be expanded from 20 to 70 new cars.
And the look of it needs to be right to match the branding — young, hip and sophisticated," Nancy Geweke said.
The company, which began in Lodi, still maintains a Toyota showroom there and a collision center in Marysville.