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Morris Auto Plaza begins renovation of 1960s facility

MORRIS, Minn. - The decision to move forward with a renovation to Morris Auto Plaza's 1960s-era building took seven years to make, but in the end made sense for Joel Krusemark and his family.

"Our facility was extremely outdated," said Krusemark, president of Morris Auto Plaza. "It was in desperate need of some updating."

Although Krusemark had been looking into a building renovation since 2003, General Motor's 2009 restructuring and resulting plan to create a consistent brand across its dealerships helped move the renovation from idea to action.

"Basically, General Motors is trying to get all of their GM stores to look the same, so [for a] customer coming in - whether it's a small community or a large community - there's no question as to what brand of make and model that dealership is selling," said Krusemark.

Although the requirements from General Motors don't leave any leeway in the cosmetic features of the new design - tile colors, furniture, countertops, ceiling tiles and lighting - the business has had some flexibility when it comes to the size and scope of service features.

For example, the renovated building will have a two-car showroom and a four-car space for new car delivery. This new car delivery space is bigger than the minimum requirement from General Motors because Morris Auto Plaza does more work preparing cars before they leave the business.

"We've always prided ourselves on going the extra mile as far as detailing a car and the cleanliness of it when it goes out for delivery," said Krusemark.

An added climate-controlled service reception area will allow customers to drive their vehicles into a heated and cooled area to meet with a service advisor to have their vehicle checked out, said Krusemark.

Morris Auto Plaza is also trying to work with as many local contractors as possible through the construction phase of the renovation, but the strict style requirements from General Motors can make that a challenge.

In addition to the renovation, Morris Auto Plaza is also planning to add another salesperson and another automotive technician in the coming year.

Krusemark said he's looking forward to being able to provide a better facility for Morris Auto Plaza's employees and mitigating some of the challenges of doing business in an older building.

"We've all said the last few years that sometimes we make excuses to our customers as to why our facility looks the way it does, so hopefully we won't have to do that going forward," said Krusemark.

The renovation is scheduled will be completed by Nov. 1.