Bayou Automotive completes 1st phase of massive renovation

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, October 12, 2022

LAPLACE — Bayou Automotive has taken a major step forward in its Belle Terre dealerships renovation and expansion project with the completion of the Express Service building.

The newly renovated Express building has seen a 1,000 square foot expansion for additional service capacity. Three new lifts have been added, including a 30,000-pound lift that it among only a few of its kind to exist between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. This will allow Bayou Automotive access to work on commercial and heavy duty vehicles.

As a full-scale renovation takes place on the Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram facilities on the property, the Express building is functioning as a temporary parts and service department.

Dealer Principal Ben Gaiennie said the full overhaul of Bayou Automotive’s buildings is necessary to accommodate current sales and service needs.

“Part of the reason we are expanding our service capacity is that your typical lead time of even getting an appointment has been anywhere from three to four weeks across the board,” Gaiennie said, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has had long-lasting impacts on parts constraints as well as the availability of technicians, not only in LaPlace, but across the country.

Gaiennie added, “Our expansions will drastically cut down the lead time as far as getting people in. Once construction is all done, our service capacity and lifts will have doubled. When the Ford renovation is done, we will go from 16 to 25 lifts. After Chrysler is done, we will have more than 45 lifts.”

After acquiring the Ford dealership on Belle Terre Boulevard in 2018, Bayou Automotive became the fastest-growing Ford dealership in the Southern region encompassing Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and parts of Tennessee. The company acquired a Nissan dealership in New Orleans the following year while continuing to focus on a LaPlace expansion. Challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic did not hinder growth, and Bayou Automotive completed the acquisition of the neighboring Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/Ram dealership in August 2021, just three days before Hurricane Ida damaged facilities.

The full-scale renovation project began earlier this year. With the Express building now complete, the next milestone will be the completion of Ford Service & Parts by the end of December 2022.

The Chrysler building will expand from 15,000 square feet to 28,000 square feet by October 2023, and the final phase will be complete when Ford Sales doubles in size from 20,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet by Spring 2024.

The service and sales expansion is not the only way Bayou Automotive has adapted to industry challenges in a post-COVID world. When inventory shortages caused most dealerships to stop providing loaner vehicles, Bayou Automotive opened its own rental company. Bayou Auto Rental currently has a 35-vehicle rental fleet to accommodate internal customers while their cars are being serviced.

While inflation and rate increases have dominated the news, Gaiennie said there are still plenty of special financing opportunities available to buyers in LaPlace, including a 0% for 72 months option on Ram vehicles and 1.9% financing on Ford credit.

In the meantime, outside sales manager Robert Tamplain said Bayou Automotive has doubled down on community involvement, which has included offering scholarships to all River Parish high schools. A partnership with River Parishes Community College to offer equipment for automotive training is in talks for the future.

Tamplain believes transparency, quality service and a commitment to the community is what allowed Bayou Automotive’s dealerships to be named “Best in the River Parishes” for the second consecutive year.
“Even through COVID and through Ida and all the challenges we’ve faced, we’ve still been able to maintain the best of the best status with our customers,” Tamplain said.

Bayou Automotive is located at 555 Belle Terre Blvd. in LaPlace. For more information, call 985-652-8000.