Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Business

Used car dealer also has big selection of off-road vehicles

BROOKSVILLE — Steve and Heather Craig call their products "unique vehicles."

The grinning, enthusiastic people who pull into the lot at Halo Autosports, on the other hand, are likely to call them "fun", or maybe even "wild."

Dirt bikes, buggies, all-terrain vehicles and utility vehicles are the specialty of Halo at the former Suzuki dealership at 15265 Cortez Blvd. The Craigs bought the property and moved their business there earlier this month from downtown St. Petersburg.

"The Brooksville location, geographically, is ideal for these types of products," said Steve Craig, 42, who oversees the service and sales departments.

"A lot of people seem to have a lot of land in this area and they like to go dirt biking."

Even among the unusual vehicles on the Halo lot, the Oreion Reeper stands out. It's a street-legal, side-by-side, two-passenger run-about.

"Most vehicles in this market are not street-legal," Craig said. "With the Reeper, if you want to go off-roading, you can go off-roading; if you want to go to Starbucks, you can go to Starbucks."

The two-passenger JMC Remli is in the same category, he said.

Who buys sports vehicles?

"Outdoorsy people who like adventure (and) who like toys, such as dirt bikes or four-wheelers," Craig replied. "There are other people who purchase them just because they are a unique vehicle. Some people use them for daily transportation, some for definitely off-roading."

The dealership's prices range from $700 for small a dirt bike to $16,000 for a street-legal side-by-side.

The street-legal buggy requires licenses for both the vehicle and the driver. A couple of scooter models, along with dirt bikes powered by engines of 50 cubic centimeters or larger, require motorcycle or standard driver licenses. Street-legal vehicles are equipped with seat belts.

While sport vehicles set the local dealership apart, they account for just 30 percent of the firm's business.

The bulk comes from sales of cars, pickup trucks and vans. But don't count on ho-hum here, either. On the lot last week was an 2002 Jaguar S-Type and a '94 Corvette.

Halo acquires its pre-owned inventory from other dealerships, private owners, auctions and trade-ins.

The dealership offers vehicle histories and financing.

Its service department is available for auto repairs of all makes and models.

At its site in St. Petersburg, which covered a half-acre, "we were geographically limited to our growth," Craig said. "So this building, 13,500 square feet on 7 acres, allows us to expand our business.

"One of the things that really attracted us to Brooksville and Hernando County is the growth and businesses you see being added."

Heather Craig, 30, serves as general manager, overseeing day-to-day operations. The firm also has five other workers.

Both Craigs have experience in real estate and Steve Craig has worked at car dealerships.

"He's always had a passion for cars, starting with building dealerships of Legos," said Heather Craig. "I am the orchestrator of his dreams."

Beth Gray can be reached at [email protected]

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