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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Toyota of Wilmington broke ground today, expanding their dealership to 65,000 square feet. But with the economy still in the dumps and the tsunami in Japan impacting Toyota, is this really the best time to expand?

The Dealership is nearly tripling their square footage and investing $12 million into its new and improved building.

“Toyota of Wilmington has survived very well throughout this,” said dealership general manager, Doug Thompson. “We have cars and we have cars continuing to come in everyday and they’re filling the pipeline as we go forward.”

Thompson says the natural disaster in Japan had little impact to his dealership thanks to stock piled parts and steady sales. However, he says inventory initially took a hit.

“While our volume stayed the same, our availability did shrink, but we were able to deliver as many cars,” said Thompson.

Gerald Eckstein is buying a car for his wife. As a retired engineer, he says now is a better time than ever for the dealership to expand.

“From the construction side, I think they’re probably in a good position to get the work done at a reasonable price,” said Eckstein.

Since it’s opening in 2000, Thompson says the dealership’s volume has increased tremendously, jumping from six to eight hundred units a year to three thousand units a year.

“We’re bursting at the seams in service,” said Thompson. “We have more technicians than service bays. We’ve outgrown our building and we’re very fortunate to where we can fill this building the day that we open it.”

Thompson says the new dealership will be completed around April. The current showroom will be demolished two months after the new building is opened. Thompson says through expanding he expects 35 to 40 full-time jobs to be added.

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