by Clint Burgess

Over the past few months, you may have noticed some work going on at the Wendle Northtown location. The dealership has been renovating its Suzuki showroom to bring it up to speed with the new fast-track approach that Suzuki has developed for a heavier market presence in the States over the next seven years. At the public ribbon-cutting ceremony on the new facility, the locally owned and operated dealership officially kicked off its commitment to Suzuki.

The showroom is housed in a retro-style, Art Deco building. The lines and prominent placing on the lot make the exterior a great eye-catcher, complementing the Regal Cinema building across the street that is constructed with similar features. This renovation provides a new, high-tech showroom that is designed with the customer's comfort in mind. It also creates a mood for the vehicles it showcases. The kickoff was well attended by the general public, as well as media and city officials. In honor of the event, Koichi Suzuki, president of automotive operations for Suzuki, was on hand to express his commitment to Wendle and other dealers that have made Suzuki a priority in their business.

"Suzuki is the number one manufacturer in Japan for the past 30 years," Suzuki told the gathering. The company is also prominent in Europe with the success of its lines of small and economical vehicles. "We have a marketing plan that will triple our sales in five years," Suzuki said, "with nine new vehicles that will all be introduced by 2007."

This ambitious move calls for moving 250,000 units per year, but with the lineup Suzuki has put together, it does seem attainable. The manufacturer has unveiled its new line in grand fashion and is targeting the idea of larger cars for the more wide-open spaces here. But perhaps the most important priority for Suzuki is the customer. "Value is very important -- we are upgrading our image and our product to provide the best value for the customer," Suzuki said. This commitment is exhibited in the company's warranty that offers seven years or 100,000 miles, and the warranty is transferable from owner to owner.

Chud Wendle, one of the members of the Wendle family that owns the dealership, expressed his excitement for what is happening with Suzuki. "They really are a complement to Ford -- they have their own identity and are the perfect fit for our lineup here," said Wendle, adding that he is encouraged by Suzuki's aggressive plans for the next few years. "We feel 100 percent confident in the decision to go with Suzuki."

The new digs for the showroom are clear evidence of that, with interactive virtual displays and plenty of space in which to get to know all things Suzuki.

Wendle is making news not only with Suzuki but on the statewide level as well. The dealership was recently honored with the Washington Family Business of the Year by the Family Enterprises Institute -- a competition among all family-owned businesses, not just car dealerships. This was quite the honor for the Spokane-based business, as it exemplifies what Wendle strives to achieve. The dealership is active in the community that it has been a part of for 61 years. The symbiosis of keeping local dollars in our local economy is alive and well at Wendle.

Publication date: 2/24/05

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