Carrie Rengers

Scholfield Honda unveils first phase of new building

Roger Scholfield says he means it this time.

For years, every time he and his father, Vic, expanded their Scholfield Honda dealership at 7017 E. Kellogg, he says he’s figured they wouldn’t have to do it again.

“Each time you grow, you know you always think, ‘oh, man, this looks so big, and … it’s the most we’ll ever need.’ ”

However, the Scholfields decided they needed a new place to hold all of their operations except for the used car and detail area, so they built a 54,000-square-foot building. The first phase of it opens on Monday.

Not that you can easily see it yet, though. The dealership’s express service center building, which is going to be demolished, obscures the new building.

“Well, it’s just right back there,” Roger Scholfield says he tells people.

“Until it’s like ‘Move that building!’ … it’s going to be a shock to people because it does kind of blend in with the campus right now.”

The Monday opening will be of the parts and service department and the accounting department.

Then, at 9 a.m. on Dec. 6, McCurdy Auction will auction all of the equipment that’s not moving from the old service center.

That includes lifts, alignment racks, hoses, compressors and oil tanks among other things.

“It’ll be quite a bit of items, and we’ve already had a lot of people interested in that,” Scholfield says.

Demolition of the old building will take about a month, then the rest of the dealership’s personnel, including the sales and finance departments, will move to the new building. Then the current operations building will be demolished and the rest of the site work will be completed in time for an April grand opening.

“It’s been relatively pain-free up until now, and the next two or three months is going to be the challenge,” Scholfield says.

He says he began thinking about expanding the dealership’s 8.2 acres about three years ago for a few reasons.

First, he says, according to Honda corporate officials, the dealership has about 57 percent market share for service on Hondas in the area.

“And we want more,” Scholfield says. “To do that, we need a bigger facility.”

Also, he says that with a service center and what is basically an oil change center, there’s been a lot of duplication of things, such as two service drives, two phone systems, two customer lounges and restrooms. Scholfield says there also has been an occasional communication issue even with the centers being just next door to each other.

So over the past year and a half, he’s purchased a number of houses on Orme and grew his property by 2.2 acres, which is about the same size the dealership was when it moved there in 1985 and before it began expanding as other businesses – the Rose Bowl East, Hooters and a music shop – either closed or moved.

“So basically we ended up with a block – a full city block.”

With this latest expansion, Scholfield says, SJCF Architecture spent about six months interviewing his employees to ask, “If your workplace was perfect, what would you have?”

He says the answers were simple things, such as the accounting department hated not having windows.

“So we put windows galore in there.”

There are lots of practical things, too.

“Everything’s designed to be quick,” Scholfield says.

For instance, service doors function like blinds going up and down.

“It’s zip, zip,” Scholfield says. “I mean, it’s just crazy.”

Instead of service lifts that take a minute to go up or down, Scholfield now has ones that take 22 seconds.

“I didn’t even know there (was) such a thing as different speeds of lifts,” he says.

He says he put a pencil to it to see if the extra time was worth the expense.

“When you look at 28 lifts all gaining about a minute of time through the day and through the week, it was giving us almost an extra 10 hours a week.”

Alignment racks now have LED lighting underneath.

“Sometimes you’d see guys, they got a flashlight stuck in their mouth and two wrenches trying to adjust something,” says parts and service director Doug Faulkner. “Now the whole underneath side of the car is lit up for them.”

There are other upgrades to each technician’s bay, such as having transmission fluid and windshield washer fluid on reels in addition to the engine oil that’s usually there.

“The whole idea is … the more time they spend in their bay, the more productive they’re going to be,” Faulkner says.

Scholfield says there are a lot of green features, too, such as plans to burn waste oil to heat the shop.

He says some of his competitors graciously helped him by allowing tours of their new shops and explaining what they wish they had done differently.

“That was my main question,” Scholfield says.

The answer: “A lot of times little things.”

So he made his special tools room bigger than originally planned and added extra storage space in general.

“We just tried to think of everything,” Faulkner says.

Water fountains have dispensers for water bottles. There’s a bigger employee lunch area and a room for nursing mothers.

Also, in a first for the dealership, there’s a locker room for female technicians in addition to one for men.

Scholfield says there’s also a conference room that will double as a community center for area nonprofits to use.

“In the long run, it’s about the future for us,” he says.

In the immediate future, Scholfield says, Honda will allocate more than 300 new cars over what the dealership normally receives due to the upgrades.

Hutton Construction is the contractor, and Scholfield says the project is six weeks ahead and under budget.

He says he likes to think this will be his last expansion – Scholfield thinks it’ll be enough for the next 30 years – but he’s not committing to that.

“I remember when I bought the Rose Bowl East, I said this is the last thing I’m ever going to do. And I bought Hooters. That was the last thing I was going to do.

“You just never know,” Scholfield says. “You can’t stand still. You gotta keep growing.”

Carrie Rengers: 316-268-6340, @CarrieRengers