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Vision: Fiat line adds to success of Bow-Mel Chrysler

An ideal opportunity presented itself for Bow-Mel Chrysler when the Ken Evans Ford dealership next door moved to the Cowichan Commons area.

Bow-Mel owner/manager Todd Blumel jumped at the chance to add a Fiat dealership to literally operate alongside the Chrysler operation and under the Bow-Mel umbrella.

It was a natural connection in more ways than one for Blumel.

“When Chrysler went into bankruptcy in 2007-08, Fiat stepped forward and said they would manage the company,’’ he said.

“They have since bought it. Our decision to get Fiat started a year and a half ago.

“Fiat fits well for us. There were other franchises we could have gotten. We took a look at those as well.’’

There were stipulations that had to be followed, but everything fell into place for Bow-Mel.

“The only way you can have a Fiat franchise is it must be in a separate showroom,’’ said Blumel.

And then the wheels got set in motion for Bow-Mel to take over the Ken Evans space and replace it with Fiat.

“About a year ago, we purchased it,’’ said Blumel. “We knew they were going to be moving out.

“It made sense for us to look next door. We just had to wait for the opportunity.’’

Work on converting the building for the Fiat dealership has been ongoing and will provide services not previously available.

“Half of the shop area we’re turning into a truck centre,’’ said Blumel.

There will also be space for a Hertz rental car outlet that will provide on-the-spot service for customers in need of temporary transportation while awaiting a vehicle or work to be completed.

“It allows us to take care of our customers,’’ said Blumel. “Now we can wrap it all into one and there’s lots of people that need rental cars.’’

Undercoatings and spray-on box liners are among the detailed work that will no longer require a trip out-of-town for customers.

“All of of those things we used to have to go outside for, we will now be under one roof,’’ said marketing director Cindy Eagles, who started with the company in February.

There’s plenty of anticipation about the opening of the studio, as it’s called in Fiat parlance, according to Eagles.

“Once we get the building open and the studio open it’s going to be pretty impressive.

“They’re very particular and they’re very, very edgy with their advertising. The building is going to be spectacular.’’

There will be some crossover, with parts staff moving between buildings, for example, Blumel said.

“From a business point of view, when it’s all under one roof, it gives us that ability to do what we need to do.’’

Business has been booming at Bow-Mel and Blumel expects that to continue with the addition of the Fiat line. He estimated about 180 vehicles were sold in 2011 and 570 in 2013.

“All going well, we should hit 700 this year,’’ Blumel said.

“The growth has been astronomical,’’ added Eagles.

“The Fiats are being very well-received,’’ she said.

“The sales team has been able to sell them since they hit the lot.’’

And the Chryslers continue to move well.

“We can’t keep our trucks in the lot,’’ Eagles said. “They just sell. There’s three buyers for every one Cherokee.’’

Bow-Mel Motors has been in the Blumel family since 1972 when George Blumel and partner Hugh Bowman started the business. The business was taken over in 1995 by George’s son Todd, and the current building that houses the Chrysler portion of the dealership was completed in 2007.

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