By Jesse Wood
Dec. 13, 2012. Nearly three weeks ago, University Nissan in Boone moved into its state-of-the-art, 15,000-square-foot building that utilizes numerous environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient features.
The new building neighbors the original location and has been in the making for nearly six years. Knowing Nissan would require him to build a new building, Chris Welborne purchased the old dealership in 2007 and began planning on a new location.
The economy put things on hold for a while, but he says: “We are coming back. It’s going to because [interest] rates are so cheap and the cars on the road are getting old fast. The average vehicle age is now 12 years old.”
With the car industry leading the economy and his brand-new building finished, Welborne is excited to say the least.
Nissan requires all franchisees to follow a blueprint for building designs called the Nissan End Ready Design, which Welborne said he upgraded above and beyond what Nissan requires.
A few of these “green” upgrades include:
– motion-detection lights in each room, lighting also on timers
– eight-inch foam roof insulation instead of four-inch requirement
– insulated concrete walls
– hand dryers in each restroom
– two electric-vehicle chargers that are open to public
– hot-water system set on timers, circulates only during business hours
– multi-zone gas heating system
– passive-solar design for solar heat in high-traffic areas outside and inside
Behind the parking lot, Welborne developed a bio-retention pond because the site has been labeled a brownfield.
According to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill report, a brownfield is an abandoned, idled or underused property where the threat of environmental contamination has hindered its development.
He goes on to say, “65 percent of our business is repeat or referral. It has to be in a market this size,” Welborne said. “[Our keys to success] are customer satisfaction and giving the customer more than the competition. People up here aren’t stupid. It’s about value. With Nissan they are getting a great priced, excellent, long lasting product with high retail values.”
Not only is the building green, but so are some of the rides, including the Nissan Leaf, which Welborne said is the greenest car on the market, the only 100-percent electric vehicle.
“Nissan is about to become the greenest car company in the next few years,” Welborne said, adding that hybrids are in development and the company recently purchased a battery company.
He talked about technology such as self-driving cars, lane departure and backup, birds-eye view and more that has been in the works at Nissan.
“The luxury guys have some of that technology, but those are $60,000 to $70,000 plus, not the $20,000 range,” Welborne said. “But we do. The new Rogue or Sentra, those are priced at 16 grand and they got this technology. It’s pretty good stuff. Nissan is doing a good job keeping it where everybody can afford it.”
For more information, click to www.universitynissan.com, call 828-264-7726 or check out the new location. University Nissan is located off of U.S. 421 at 135 Innovation Drive.