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Boyd Auto boldly moves across town, to growing 176 commercial corridor


By Pete Zamplas-Boyd Automotive has made another bold move, moving to a new facility across town three years after adding Chevrolet to its longtime Cadillac and Buick dealership.

The Chevrolet-Cadillac-Buick dealership moved from U.S. 25 North at Five Points, beside Hendersonville High School (HHS) and near Downtown, to 1875 Spartanburg Highway/U.S. 176. This southeast side of town is fastest growing, Cam Boyd and his son Les Boyd noted. They co-own the dealership, with Les “in charge of everything,” Cam said. Cam is on hand most mornings.

“It feels great,” Cam Boyd said of opening the new site on Veteran’s Day Nov. 11. They were by Five Points since 1948, for 35 years in an art deco building on the east side of U.S. 25 North then the last 30 years across the road at the prior site. But Cam puts visionary practicality ahead of sentiment. As he noted, the prior site is “land-locked” with no room to expand as needed after adding Chevy. “We outgrew it.”

Cam and Sally Boyd sold that three-acre site to Henderson County for about $2.75 million. That opens up growth for their alma mater HHS, such as adding classrooms and parking. The Boyds accepted $600,000 below appraisal. Cam terms the discount a worthy “donation.” Cam graduated from HHS in 1963, his wife Sally in ’65, their children Les and Emery later.

Boyd has been bold in expanding, first taking in Chevy and now with a larger facility also during the lingering Great Recession. Cam said, “It’s brave to jump out there, in the middle” of tough times.

This is a fitting chapter to the Boyd business, which Cam’s father Campbell Boyd began in 1932 amidst the Great Depression and has lasted over 80 years. The original site was a Studebaker then Pontiac dealer and Shell gas station in Downtown Hendersonville, at Church Street and Fourth Avenue.

Boyd’s $6-plus million new campus uses seven of 10 acres for a 27,000-square-foot facility, Cam Boyd said. He said all areas are larger than in the prior site. These include the showroom, mechanical repair and auto detailing, lot fitting hundreds of vehicles, and customer waiting area. The parts department is twice its prior size, and has costly slide-out shelves. There are more than a dozen modern offices. Every other sales office has an interactive television screen, with looping video and allowing customer browsing, Boyd Marketing Director T.C. Thompson said. Cooper Construction built the facility.

Boyd had a new body shop built off-site, down and across 176, Cam Boyd said. At 24,000 square feet, it is nearly five times the size of the one in the 1948 building across from the prior dealer site. All used cars were sold there, and some still will be, Cam Boyd said. “We’ll keep our options open,” such as selling it. Many pre-owned vehicles are on part of the new lot. That makes it much easier for a customer to check both new and used cars.

Boyd’s new site is a half-mile west of where Upward Road/Highland Lake Road crosses 176. Upward Road’s ongoing widening, once done, should forge a very “viable business corridor, where (main-road) access is convenient,” Cam Boyd said. He and Les also see 176 getting traffic from its west dead end, southward from Downtown and northward on Greenville Highway/U.S. 225 (formerly 25 South) from Flat Rock.

The 176/225 intersection area is getting a vibrant makeover. The popular Fresh Market finished expansion two months ago, and Stein Mart also expanding in the Southgate plaza. Its lot got traffic-restricting islands, and many trees.

Across from Southgate, a 12,000-square foot CVS pharmacy is being built off South Main Street. The exterior shell is finished. CVS replaces the vacant Mr. Gatti’s pizzeria and other structures, moving from beside the “old Ingles” off 176. That move clears room for Ingles’ planned superstore. Also, Hendersonville Co-op plans to open a new structure next year, across South Grove Street from its current site and near 176.

The stretch further east on 176 is now the town’s main auto dealership corridor, with biggest U.S. brand Chevy battling Japanese Toyota and Nissan. The new Boyd site is a half-mile east of Bryan Easler Toyota, also on the south side of 176 along with Osborne Automotive used cars. Remodeled Hunter Nissan is across 176 from Easler.

General Motors brands are all with Boyd, fitting G.M. consolidation. But for decades they were split locally. Osborne sold Oldsmobile and GMC. Hunter Automotive Group was the town’s sole Chevrolet dealer for 70 years, until G.M. did not renew it in 2010 as part of dealer tightening during bankruptcy protection. Hunter sold Chevy franchise rights to Boyd. G.M. also cut Osborne, and Boyd’s Chevy-Pontiac-Buick store in Pisgah Forest that switched to used cars and light repair.

Boyd started out selling only Pontiacs in 1932, until G.M. stopped making them in 2010. Boyd added Cadillac in 1948, then Buick in 1967.

Duncan Hill Road near busy Four Seasons Boulevard sports Ford and Chrysler dealers. The Asheville Highway/U.S. 25 North has Hunter Hyundai that had Chevy and Subaru, and the Toyota prior site.

Only signs are at the new Boyd facility than its prior site. Cam Boyd said he feels frustrated by tight city regulations, and he “maxed” out allowable sign size. A roadside sign can be 70 square feet and up to 18 feet high, City Zoning Enforcement Officer Terri Swann noted. Boyd said that size is about five times smaller than what was “grandfathered” into compliance at the prior site. The sign on the building facade can be one square foot per linear square foot of the structure. The site is in the city extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ), thus subject to zoning restrictions.

However, as Cam Boyd notes, the parking lot full of cars is a round-the-clock signal there is a dealership there. The showroom and lot are lit at night. This boosts security, and illuminates vehicles to those driving by and also lets them know where the new site is.

Faces of the Boyds and Thompson light up, when talking about energy-saving lighting inside and out made down the road (176) in the GE Lighting plant. Motion sensors activate office lights. They remain off when space is unused, and thus void of motion.

Outside on the lot, darkness-detection security lights automatically go on when it gets dark. These are innovative GE Evolve EAMM LED area lights, GE Lighting corporate spokesperson Cheryl Seredy said. She said GE has sold them for four years, and others make similar lights. But Seredy said, “I believe Boyd is the first auto dealer in Henderson County to install these LED fixtures.”

LED are the most energy efficient lights. So much so, Cam Boyd said, it costs merely $100 extra a month to leave them on overnight.

Another area of efficiency is in water use. The dealership uses an estimated 30,833 gallons monthly. This is 11 times less than the 342,475 gallons used at the site when it had a laundromat, car wash, restaurant, convenience store and 48-unit trailer park.

This cost savings for the City and the dealership simply moving across town rather than into it were chief reasons the Boyds convinced City Council to unanimously waive its $6,478 water tap-on fee Nov. 7. Les Boyd noted right after this waiver how pleased he is with it.

Further, Cam Boyd had noted that Boyd Auto already spent $486,000 on city mandates — $347,000 of that on stormwater treatment — including on erosion control, sidewalks and landscaping. He sees replacing the trailer park as “cleaning up our town.”

City Manager John Connet, in recommending the fee waiver, stated it was warranted for reduction of water use and tax revenue-producing “economic development benefit derived from the redevelopment of this property.”

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