If there is a sign the economy is improving, it might come in the form of an empty car showroom, sitting dormant for four years, and now stocking quality used inventory and hanging a sign that equates to trust and longevity in the industry.
Crystal, a well-recognized leader in the new automobile industry in Citrus and Hernando counties for 30 years, recently dug its roots into a completely different concept. They opened a used truck center with all the bells and whistles of a new car dealer, including a facility that is state of the art.
Prior to its soft opening in July, Crystal had its eye on the vacant Mitsubishi dealership that vacated Hernando County when the economy dipped. The impressive showroom and sales lot remained vacant, a sad indicator of the struggles the auto industry was experiencing.
Yet during that time, with seven dealerships across Citrus County and Crystal Chrysler on Cortez Boulevard, the Crystal name stayed powerful and remained afloat.
"We made some adjustments," said Crystal Truck Center's General Manager Scott Ming. "We tightened our belts and did what we needed to do."
The auto industry certainly took a hit, Ming said.
"But it's starting to turn around now," he said.
The climate seemed right, prompting Crystal to branch out into western Hernando County and open a Truck Center that focused almost entirely on trucks of every make and model. The lot is already stocked with various models, from a difficult to find black Ford Harley Davidson to a preserved 1959 Chevrolet Side Step.
And this is just the beginning of what customers can expect from Crystal Truck Center.
"We have access to our other dealerships," said Ming. "If we don't have what the customer is looking for, we'll find it. If we don't, it doesn't exist."
For truck enthusiasts, having a designated truck center is like a dream come true. "Truck people tend to remain truck people," Ming said. "They seem to hold on to their trucks longer and usually trade up to another truck."
The dynamics in Hernando County seem to gear toward truck purchases as a popular form of transportation. Because of the nature of the environment and the proximity to rural types of small businesses that stem from the farming and industrial trades, many use their vehicles for work as well as pleasure.
And that makes having a local, well-known established truck center an important addition to the auto industry platform.
"Trucks are a big part of the Nature Coast," Ming said.
The Truck Center will focus on strictly pre-owned trucks of any brand, any year, any make and any model. "We can see what the market wants and get what the customer is asking for."
From inexpensive pre-owned used trucks to commercial fleet vehicles, Crystal plans to have a healthy assortment on the lot which will change as more vehicles become available. A strong staff works daily on finding those trucks that will fit the vision of the dealership.
Crystal Truck Center also has a state of the art service and collision center onsite where vehicles taken in receive a 127-point check before they are put out on the lot. Crystal Collision has been serving the county for decades. They moved from their original location on Cortez Boulevard to the new truck center.
Having the peace of mind that comes from 30 years in the business, with a recognized leader in collision and auto repair, the result is a win for customers.
It was important, Ming said, that the customer feel comfortable when visiting the Center which is why they spent some time remodeling the facility to make it feel homier. Yet it still maintains the new showroom feel that helps customers feel confident they are getting the best used truck for their money with competitive pricing and creative financing.
With the Crystal name in business for 30 years, Crystal Truck Center will commemorate that milestone at the facility's grand opening and Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting and membership mixer at 5 p.m. Thursday.
It was 1983 when the Crystal Chevrolet opened in Homossassa. Nearly 30 years to that date, an innovation of their successful new car dealerships opened in Hernando County as an exclusive Truck Center.
"When you've been in the business for thirty years," Ming said, "you must be doing something right."
Biz at a Glance
Name: Crystal Truck Center
Address: 3477 Commercial Way; Spring Hill, FL 34609