Ford Service & Parts completes 2nd phase of Belle Terre dealership renovation

Published 5:30 am Saturday, February 4, 2023

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LAPLACE — Bayou Automotive recently closed out the second phase of its Belle Terre dealerships renovation with the completion of the Ford Service & Parts building.

The community got a first look at the expansion during a Chamber Perks event on February 2.

With the completion of the building, Bayou Ford service employees who have been displaced since Hurricane Ida are back in their permanent home.

Meanwhile, the Bayou Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram employees will be temporarily relocated to the neighboring Ford Express building. Within the next two weeks, the dealership will break ground on the full reconstruction of the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram building that was severely damaged by Ida. Once complete, the facility will be expanded from 15,000 square feet to 28,000 square feet. A grand reopening and ribbon cutting ceremony will be planned for later this year, according to Outside Sales Manager Robert Tamplain.

“We never had the chance to have a ribbon cutting when we first acquired the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram building. The purchase was finalized on a Thursday, and it was destroyed by the hurricane that Sunday,” Tamplain said.

The final phase of the Bayou Automotive renovation will culminate in 2024 with the completion of the Ford Sales building, which will double in size from 20,000 to 40,000 square feet.

Renovations kicked off in 2022, and the first phase included a 1,000-foot expansion of the Ford Express building this past fall. Three new lifts were added to increase service capacity, including a 30,000-pound lift for heavy duty and commercial vehicles, among only a few of its kind to exist between Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

The recent completion of Ford Service and Parts has been “a breath of fresh air,” according to Service Manager Blake Wiltz.

“Before we remodeled, it was a bit outdated. With the renovations, updates and new equipment, it’s more inviting. We’ve got a new computer system, new software, a lot of new shop equipment,” Wiltz said.

Bayou Automotive CFO Jon Leblanc said the space has been refurbished, enlarged and updated to better meet the needs of customers.

“We feel it is more inviting, and it gives the customer the opportunity to have a better experience when they bring their vehicle in. It’s a more comfortable place to stay. You can choose to get your car serviced wherever you want to, so our goal is to offer the best experience possible when you come here,” Leblanc said.

He added, “We want to service as many customers in the community as we can. With the two stores next to each other carrying different brands, we’re going to be able to expand our reach.”

Dealer Principal Ben Gaiennie said a full overhaul of the Bayou Automotive facilities was necessary to meet current sales and service needs, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in long-lasting impacts on availability of parts and technicians.

According to Gaiennie, “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.”

Wiltz said the Bayou Automotive team has responded to industry challenges with a mentality to keep pushing forward.

“Everybody takes on some extra duties to get the job done. The most rewarding part is having a happy customer at the end of the day,” he said.

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