EAST FORSYTH — Dirt was thrown with gold shovels Wednesday as Beaver Toyota broke ground at the site of its future dealership on Buford Highway, though that was not the only thing being celebrated.
The family-owned full-service auto repair and retail center that will be located at Buford Highway (Hwy. 20) and Echols Road donated $100,000 to Forsyth County Schools to be used for teacher grants.
“This is a huge, huge contribution and really kicks off our foundation so we can give back to the teachers, give back to the school system to let them be innovative in their teaching of the children and allow them funds so they can do that,” said Donna Wade, board member for the Forsyth County Education Foundation.
Starting with $10,000, the foundation was formed this year by the school board to support innovative teaching in the classroom.
We wanted to show our commitment to the community and our commitment to giving back, because giving back is one of the most important things that we do,” said Katie Calavan, who moved to Forsyth County this week with her two children and husband, Matt, to run the business.
The groundbreaking ceremony drew a crowd of nearly 100, including county government and school system officials, Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce staff and even the company’s mascot, Bucky Beaver.
“This really will go directly to the teachers,” said School Superintendent Jeff Bearden.
Matt Calavan said most of the people in his family are educators.
“My heart is all about education,” he said. “If we support education, we can’t go wrong.”
With a goal of opening by spring 2017, the 130,000-square-foot facility will feature a main building with parts and about 15 service bays. There also will be a full detail center with 14 bays, two photo booths to take pictures of cars and a collision center.
As another sign of their commitment to the community, Beaver said a corner of the property will feature an outdoor social and entertainment center, with big-screen TVs, barbecues, two fire pits and seating.
The space can be used by customers or for events and nonprofit gatherings, Calavan said.
The zoning for this property received some pushback from neighbors at the time, though the chamber and other residents noted the lengths the Beaver family went to throughout the process to work with stakeholders.
Beaver Toyota, part of Southeast Toyota Distributors, marks the first new Toyota dealership built in the Southeast in more than five years, according to Lauren Fyke, of the company.
It will join Lou Sobh Honda, which opened in late 2013 at Hwy. 20 and Sanders Road, a Lou Sobh Kia that opened in 2015 next it, and a Nalley Nissan that broke ground east of Nuckolls Road in February.
The Toyota dealership will be the largest of the four.
“We don’t argue and fuss with customers,” said owner Mike Beaver. “They’re going to leave happy, or we’re going to change stuff, whether it’s service or parts, until they get out of here happy.
“I’m not much on words, but I am on commitment. I promise this will be the flagship store … It will be the best place to buy a car, get service, get a meal.”