Forbes Motors will create a larger Toyota site at the former Schlueter location
Forbes Motors Inc. is taking the former Schlueter building at 300 Weber St. N. in Waterloo back to its roots, by converting it into an expanded location for its Forbes Toyota franchise.
The building will be renovated and then the Toyota dealership currently located at Colby and Northfield drives will move in, said Russell Forbes Sr., the company’s president.
In the 1970s, the property was a Toyota dealership but the Schlueter family converted it into a Chevrolet franchise. Earlier this year, Schlueter Automotive Group closed the Chevrolet dealership and Forbes Motors bought the property.
“We are bringing Toyota back to the building that it was in over 30 years ago, so it is a circle,” Forbes said. The new location will allow Forbes Motors to significantly expand its Toyota franchise, he said.
The 36,600-square-foot facility on five acres of land “is a building that is approximately twice the size of what we currently have and the land area will be more than double the size of land we are working from now,” Forbes said.
Forbes Motors employs about 150 people, including 45 at the Toyota dealership. The Toyota business and auto sales business generally have been good recently, Forbes said.
“We are now making up for a few lean years in the past. And certainly with the Cambridge assembly plant in our backyard, this is a strong Toyota area.”
Forbes Motors hasn’t decided what it will do with the current Toyota dealership property. “It’s up in the air right now whether we will put in a different franchise there or whether we sell or lease it,” Forbes said. The move won’t happen until next summer so there is time to make that decision, he said.
This spring, the Forbes family took over the Chevrolet franchise in Waterloo from the Schlueter family.
It moved the franchise to 165 Weber St. S. in Waterloo, where it already operated a Buick, Cadillac and GMC dealership.
The Schlueter Automotive Group planned to sell the Weber Street North property to a developer. But that deal didn’t go through, “so we stepped in when it became available,” Forbes said. Forbes Motors hopes to soon start work a “major facelift” to turn the site into a Toyota dealership.
The renovations will include anew foyer, six-car service drive thru and modern look for the 15-car showroom.
The Colby Drive location is too small for a drive-thru service bay area so by moving to the new location, “we will be able to offer our customers that next level of service,” Forbes said. The new location is great from the standpoint of population density and traffic, he said. “If you look at that general area where the new police station is, there are an awful lot of high rises being built, so that area is certainly very appealing.”
Forbes Motors was started by Russell Arthur Forbes in the 1940s, and then run by his sons, Jack and Ralph.
Today, the business is run by Russell Forbes Sr., Ralph’s son, along with Russell’s son, Russ Forbes Jr., who is in charge of the GM dealership.
Russell’s daughter, Leigh Forbes, is the company’s Online Marketing Coordinator.
Rose Simone, Record staff