LATHAM — Keeler Motor Car Company has begun selling Alfa Romeo vehicles and will soon bring new Maseratis onto its lot.
The Latham company recently became the only area dealer for either of the high-end Italian nameplates, and expansion plans are in the works for the Route 7 dealership, where space is tight.
CEO Jesse Hord said the acquisition was an easy decision to make: DePaula had stopped selling Alfa Romeos and Maseratis in southern Colonie, so Keeler didn’t have to buy anyone out.
“They closed their store and we had heard about it and we contacted one of our reps at BMW who used to run Maserati in the U.S.,” Hord said. Research and discussions over the summer led to the conclusion that the expansion would be complementary to Keeler’s existing luxury brands, BMW and Mercedes.
“I looked at it as an opportunity to grab two brands we didn’t have here,” Hord said.
Keeler Alfa Romeo and Keeler Maserati can now service both Italian brands in-house. Only Alfa Romeos are in stock for sale or lease right now, but the first Maseratis should arrive on the lot in about two weeks.
Frank Salamida, general manager of Keeler Pre-Owned, was named GM for these two new dealerships, as well. They’re all based in the same building, for now.
Keeler has submitted a master plan proposal to the town of Colonie that expands the dealership’s footprint onto the former Hewitt’s site next door, which Keeler acquired in 2018.
First up would be construction of a collision shop on the east end of the property, with space for an Alfa Romeo showroom attached.
A new space would be built for Keeler Honda at the west end of the site, and the old Honda showroom would become a Pre-Owned showroom.
There are other moving pieces, and build-out would take three to five years.
The additional space was needed even before the two new dealerships were added, Hord said.
“It seems like we have excess, then it gets to summer and we’re all looking for parking,” he said.
Before this latest acquisition, Keeler sold BMW, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Mini passenger vehicles, as well as Mercedes commercial vans.
Hord said the dealership is open to expanding its brand line further, should the opportunity arise. It would likely (but not necessarily) be a higher-end or luxury product, he added.
The automobile retail business in 2021 has undergone significant changes in the wake of COVID-19, Hord said. After a massive slowdown in spring 2020 that left dealer lots packed with unsold cars, pent-up demand in summer and autumn boosted sales.
Meanwhile, supply chain disruptions continue to reverberate, with computer chips in short supply at times.
“We’re starting to see that with Honda and Mercedes, BMW not so much,” Hord said about availability of parts.
He’s not worried about these two new low-production brands further complicating Keeler’s supply chain because Alfa Romeo and Maserati both have many common parts through the much-larger Fiat Chrysler family.
In the larger picture, Hord added, “My crystal ball is as hazy as anyone’s. I do feel like we’re coming to the end of this latest stage of the pandemic.”
Beyond that are some even bigger changes: A greater number of electric vehicles from BMW, Mercedes and others will be entering the marketplace and competing for customer dollars against the internal combustion vehicles Keeler has been selling since 1967.
“It’s exciting, and a little scary at the same time,” Hord said.