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Hyundai dealership preparing for carmaker's debut in Pasco

Published Aug. 31, 2005

A Korean car company will make its first foray into Pasco County this summer when it sets up shop on a corner of U.S. 19 once plagued by dilapidated buildings.

Dealership owner Scott Fink is investing $5-million to build a 22,000-square-foot facility on 4{ acres at State Road 54 and U.S. 19.

"I was awarded the franchise probably two years ago," said Fink, who is set to open Hyundai of New Port Richey in early May after delays in finding a site and working with other dealers.

"We're developing what used to be that run down intersection (and) we're going to make it nice and pretty for people."

Attracted by Pasco's demographics and growth, Fink said the county parallels the upswing the Korean car company has enjoyed since entering the U.S. market in 1986.

Hyundai's initial thrust centered on the East and West coasts and in the South. With about 30 dealerships in Florida, the state ranks just below Texas and New York as one of the larger sales locations. California, where the company's U.S. operations are based, has about 65 dealerships according to the company.

Until recently the car maker offered only low-price subcompacts and was dogged by reliability problems, according to Consumer Guide and other trade publications. But in recent years Hyundai has improved with a number of new models. It now offers one of the most comprehensive new-car warranties in the business.

"They've improved the quality and the styling of the car," said Fink, who sold his Clearwater Toyota and Clearwater Mitsubishi dealerships in 1998.

Now he will pit his product against the Toyota franchise across from him on U.S. 19.

"I'm excited about offering the price comparison," Fink said.

His Hyundai dealership will debut with 250 new cars and 75 used models on the lot. Pricing will run between $9,000 and $25,000.

The new building will be state of the art, said Mike MacArthur, chief financial officer for Hyundai of New Port Richey.

The dealership will start with a staff of 20 to 25 but is expected to grow to 50 employees in the next few years, said Fink.

In 2002 the company reported sales of more than 375,000 cars in the United States, up 8.3 percent from 2001 and a record breaking increase for the company.

"We're going to make some friends up in Pasco any beyond," said Fink, citing 10-year warranties and modest prices. "We just want people to look at us and I believe if they look some people are going to buy."