An Atlanta-based auto retailer has announced plans to bring a Honda dealership to Forsyth County.
Lou Sobh Honda has a contract on 11.7 acres at Hwy. 141 and Majors Road, not far from the Ga. 400 corridor, according to a report from the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.
Plans call for a 47,000-square-foot sales and service facility.
With a projected opening of early 2010, the dealership could employ between 85 and 100 people. Sobh said he expects construction to begin in March.
“The future of Atlanta is going toward Forsyth County,” he said. “The area is going to be a fantastic area to do business.
“Just the fact that we know there are over 12,000 Honda vehicles in the Forsyth County area, and there’s no Honda dealer there, is a pretty good indication of the market for that particular car.”
Sobh is no stranger to the metro Atlanta automotive market, with new car dealerships in Conyers, Duluth and Lithia Springs. He also owns General Motors dealerships in Chicago, Los Angeles and Florida.
The local dealership will feature about 300 new and 100 pre-owned Hondas, with a capacity to house as many as 900 vehicles.
For the past 18 years, Sobh was primarily aligned with General Motors. It wasn’t until 2006 that he opened his first Honda dealership in Jacksonville, Fla.
But after just two years, Sobh said, it was named the 2008 Honda sales leader for the city. He expects to realize a similar accomplishment when he opens his first Honda dealership in Georgia.
Sobh believes his success comes from dedication to customers.
“We believe you get into enough trouble doing things right,” he said. “We sell cars one at a time and we disclose everything.
"We try to be as easy to deal with as possible. We are a no-pressure type of business and we take care of our customers before and after the sale.”
Brian Dill, vice president of economic development for the chamber, said it has been pursuing auto dealerships in conjunction with the city of Cumming since 2006.
The new dealership, which Dill said is about a $9 million investment, is in line with the chamber’s initiative to increase work force development.
“Our goal is to find jobs for local citizens of all skill levels and we know not everybody has an immediate education level to jump into an engineering position with a data center," he said. "So (diverse businesses) are key in making sure that we service the entire population of the community and not just one segment.”
Sobh’s son Michael, who currently serves as general manager at the General Motors dealership in Duluth, will take on the same role at the Forsyth dealership.
His son isn’t the only family member in management, said Sobh, adding his three brothers run other dealerships for the company.
“I have a lot of brothers everywhere, and nephews,” he said. “Being a family-run dealership and having people from the family running the stores and being at the stores, it carries on our philosophy for the rest of the people. They know how we want things done and they do it that way.
“We’ve been successful everywhere so far, so hopefully we’ll continue.”
In an economy where car manufacturers and dealerships are struggling, Sobh’s expansion could be perceived as a risk.
But the experienced owner said his timing of the new endeavor will be perfect.
“We’re all struggling right now, but it’s something that’s needed and I don’t believe this will have an everlasting effect,” he said. “I have faith in the economy, I have faith in the resilience of our country and I feel that when we open up in the spring of 2010, it will be a perfect time, because hopefully this recession, or depression, or whatever you want to call it, will be over with.”