A local company, with a long history in the community, is transitioning from its historic roots to expansions, renovations and relocations of several departments.
The Westlie Ford parts and service departments, as well as business administrative offices, have been moved from 314 N.E. Birch St., in downtown Camas, to the dealership’s sales location at 40 S. Marina Way, in Washougal.
The relocation occurred during the first weekend of May. The business administrative offices have temporarily moved into a trailer next to the sales site.
Fuel Medical has purchased the building on Birch, for $825,000. The purchase includes a parking lot for employees, across the street from the Westlie building.
The Westlie Ford dealership is owned by Ryan Dickerson, his brother Bret and father Randy. Randy’s brother, Mike, retired in 2008.
The next phase of the renovation project will include finishing the service department and adding a mezzanine for parts and storage. The third phase will feature the demolition of the current showroom and second floor, as well as completion of the business office.
“We will gut the inside, but the bones of the building will stay there,” Ryan said.
Business and sales offices will be added, and the customer waiting areas will be upgraded to include a fireplace.
The target date to have the renovation project completed is Jan. 1, 2015.
“We will be able to service customers better, by putting everyone into the same building,” Ryan said.
The debut of Ford “Quick Lane” service is expected to occur in January. It will be for basic maintenance services, such as oil changes, tires, brakes, batteries, hoses and belts, for all makes and models.
The size of the parts and service departments have already almost doubled to more than 16,000 square feet. They are located in a former warehouse space that needed improvements in the areas of lighting, wiring, plumbing and air supply.
Vehicle lifts were moved, and a service reception area was built. There are 15 service bays, with plans to add seven more. The former shop had nine stalls.
Customers can drive their vehicles into the new covered service area and avoid getting rained on.
The parts and service department is currently open Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The owners plan to add Saturday hours, starting in July.
Some of the classic cars that were in the warehouse are now on display in the Westlie Ford showroom.
The collision center, for all makes and models of vehicles, will remain open at 318 N.E. Third Ave.
Ryan said moving the parts, service and business offices from downtown was a difficult decision to make.
“It is a good thing for us and Fuel Medical,” he said. “We received multiple offers from others.”
Fuel Medical is expected to bring 30 employees to the downtown core. Within six months of the move, company co-founder Shawn Parker would like that number to increase to 40.
Ryan expects the Westlie dealership will receive additional attention with a future new sign and increased traffic along state Route 14.
“Parking downtown was an issue,” he said. “We didn’t have a specific service drive where customers could drive right up to. They had to depend on street parking, and in downtown Camas that can be an issue at times.”
Westlie Ford has a total of 60 employees. That includes four in the collision center.
Car dealership has a rich history
Bob Stoller and his family owned a Ford dealership, starting in 1917.
John Westlie purchased the company in 1942. The building was torn down and remodeled seven years later.
Randy’s father, Lawrence “Dick” Dickerson, started working at Westlie Ford Mercury as an apprentice in the body shop in 1946. Three years later, he worked in the sales department.
Dick purchased the dealership, with Francis “Boggie” Bogdon, in 1961.
“My grandfather never changed the name [of the business], out of respect for the person that gave him the start and opportunity in the business,” Ryan said. “He started from literally the ground floor and worked his way up.”
Randy and Dick bought Bogdon out in 1984.
“In the 1940s and 50s, there were six new car dealerships in downtown Camas,” Randy said. “We were the first [one to arrive] and the last to leave.”
The Dickersons started leasing their current site in Washougal, in 2000.
Company is involved in the community
Westlie Ford is the presenting sponsor of the Camas Car Show Saturday, July 5, from 4 to 8:30 p.m., in downtown Camas.
The company donates $50 per touchdown to the Camas and Washougal high schools’ booster clubs.
In the fall of 2013, that amounted to $7,000 for CHS and $2,000 for WHS.
Ryan is vice president of the Camas Athletics Boosters Club, which organizes the annual Casino Night, at Westlie in the spring, and the Tom Wallenborn Golf Classic in September.
In September, the Dickerson family will join the CHS Athletic Hall of Fame, for its financial contributions to Papermaker programs, volunteer hours to the Camas Boosters and support of Camas athletics.
The Dickersons have also made donations to Little League and Babe Ruth baseball programs.
Randy has served on the CHS football coaching staff. He is a former Papermaker football player who graduated in 1967.
Randy played football for the University of Puget Sound, and he coached there for 1.5 years after graduation.
Randy started working at Westlie Ford in 1973.
Ryan, a 1996 CHS graduate, has worked at Westlie since 2008.
Fuel Medical moves forward with renovation
Meanwhile, Parker and his company co-founder Brendan Ford, both of Camas, plan to use reclaimed wood found during the demolition phase to craft one-of-a-kind furniture for use in their new space.
“There were unique elements about the building we wanted to keep,” Parker said. “Once we removed the drop ceiling from the main area, there were these great trusses and exposed beams that gave the building the low-key, modern feel we were looking for.
“We also found these amazing pieces of wood in sizes they don’t really make anymore, and we’ll be repurposing those for furniture,” he added. “We wanted to incorporate as many existing pieces of the building as possible into the new design.”
Construction on the building should be complete by late July.
Fuel Medical will relocate from 16906 S.E. First St., Ste. 101, in east Vancouver.