Robberson Ford in Bend undergoing remodel

Video: Jeff Robberson explains what made his dealership more than a building

By Rachael Rees / The Bulletin

Owner: Robberson Ford

Architect: BBT Architects, Inc.

General Contractor: Kirby Nagelhout Construction Co.

Details: Construction at Robberson Ford in Bend is underway to make the dealership more customer- and employee-friendly.

Work on the 43-year-old building began in April with the demolition of the former showroom and is expected to be completed in December, said Matt Stockton, project manager for Kirby Nagelhout Construction Co.

“We’re beginning excavation for the foundation and footings,” he said Friday. “Shortly after that, we’ll be beginning to pour our concrete slab, and then we’ll begin erecting the framing for the structure itself in the showroom.”

The dealership at 2100 N.E. Third St. will remain open during construction. The project will add space, bringing the building to about 28,500 square feet, Stockton said.

Jeff Robberson, owner of Robberson Ford of Bend and Prineville, expects the project to cost around $5 million, which includes vacating the street between the Ford and Mazda showrooms, utilities work, along with remodeling the dealership.

Built by his father, Gordy Robberson, in the early 1970s, the dealership holds a lot of history, Jeff Robberson said.

“We have delivered over 30,000 vehicles out of it,” he said. “For me, it was really emotional because it represented my dad so much. It was a challenging deal.”

The dealership has undergone about a dozen minor remodels over the years. But after the demolition of the showroom, he said, the only thing left standing was the box — the square building that contains the parts and service department.

“It had outgrown its useful life, and it wasn’t very user-friendly,” he said.

The waiting room was too small and everybody was sharing offices, he said.

Matt Appleby, project architect at BBT Architects, said the remodeling work will modernize the dealership, meeting Ford and Lincoln guidelines and complying with current building codes and Americans with Disabilities Act regulations.

The dealership will have a full second floor for administrative staff, as well as a staff training room, a small commercial kitchen, an elevator and ramp access from the parking lot into the showroom.

“It’s cumbersome, but we’re making do,” Robberson said. “The really exciting thing is even through this whole process, our April business was up over last April.”

— Rachael Rees, The Bulletin