SPRING HILL — With an estimated 60 percent of used-vehicle shoppers on the Nature Coast seeking to buy a truck, a chain of locally owned dealerships has opened a place dedicated to pre-owned trucks.
Crystal Truck Center, 3477 Commercial Way, opened in August with 60 used trucks on a newly resurfaced lot and in a complex that includes a full parts and service department, a body shop and redecorated sales offices. The site formerly was home to a Mitsubishi dealership.
The refurbished center is the newest of six dealerships doing business in Hernando and Citrus counties under the Crystal Chrysler banner and owned by Steve and Jewell Lamb and Scott Ming. Ming, who has been with the company for 17 years, is general manager for the truck center.
The spacious truck-dedicated outlet, Ming explained, enables the company to display vehicles that it might not put on lots at its other dealerships. And, as the center is not constrained to a particular brand, it will buy and sell trucks of any make and model.
"We have imports and domestics," Ming said. "Whatever the market dictates, we'll get more of that."
Trucks are not easy to come by, he said.
"At any time, we'll have eight to 10 people out looking for trucks. We'll go to lots that maybe don't want to have other than their own brand," he said. "And we're looking for privately owned, well-maintained vehicles. We'll buy them right up front. We'd rather buy from individuals than stand at an auction with our hand in the air."
The center also takes trade-ins, whatever the vehicle, including autos.
As for customers, Ming said, "Trucks are one of those things, if you need one, you have to have one. If you've once had a truck, it's hard to go back (to no truck)."
Truck buyers cross all demographics, "men, women, older, business people, some just for weekends," said Ming, 51.
Thus, the center offers a broad spectrum of choices, currently from a $49,000 Avalanche to older, high-mileage vehicles priced at $6,000 to $7,000.
While pickups dominate the lot, Ming pointed out utility, flat-bed and dump trucks, plus high-top vans.
The center will provide a CarMax history for any vehicle it sells. Its service department is open, not just for Crystal buyers, but to anyone who needs a vehicle repair.
The center employs 14: Ming; Richard Palmore, the sales manager; six in the service and body shops; and six in sales.
"All the sales people have been in it for years," Ming said, "so they know what they're talking about."
Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]