Business feature: New dealership arrives in Clovis

Hamilton Hyundai has a stock of about 30 vehicles. Owner Gary Hamilton said the dealership has 10 employees as of Monday, and he hopes to increase that total to 17 over the next few months.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

On Monday, General Motors filed for bankruptcy. Also on Monday, a Clovis Hyundai dealership opened shop.

Hamilton Hyundai opened its doors with about 10 employees on hand to
sell and maintain a fleet of 30 vehicles. Gary Hamilton, owner of the
new franchise on Mabry Drive, said he hopes those numbers will jump to
about 17 employees and a fleet of 50 to 60 vehicles by the end of the
month.

Hamilton, who owns eight other car dealerships in New Mexico and
Texas, said he’s had his eye on the Hyundai brand for about three years.

“Hyundai traditionally will not put a franchise in a town smaller
than 50,000 people,” Hamilton said. “I was hopeful that with the
(personnel increase at) the (Cannon Air Force) base, and the general
growth of Clovis and Portales and surrounding communities, we could
convince Hyundai that we would be as good as a 50,000-population town.”

The Hyundai franchise Clovis received was purchased from a Hobbs
dealership, Hamilton said, and the regional headquarters in Dallas has
been extremely helpful in helping set up shop in Clovis.

Scott Mills, manager of Hamilton Hyundai, said he expected he would
get a lot of traffic from military personnel at Cannon, because
military personnel tend to do a lot of online shopping and the brand is
attractive for its low sticker price and features.

“I feel this is a car that’s very popular with military people,” Mills said, “and we’re getting an influx of military people.”

But he said he’s also been getting interest from longtime residents
who just want an additional car, or previous Hyundai owners who
couldn’t get a new vehicle in the area.

Previously, the closest Hyundai dealer was in Lubbock.

“There are a lot of people who don’t know anything about Hyundai,” Mills said. “That’s our challenge right now.”

So far, the business has met early sales challenges. They’re still
training new staff, Hamilton said, but they’ve sold eight vehicles and
two more potential buyers are waiting on more stock to arrive.

Hamilton, who also owns GM dealerships, said the agricultural market
is always likely to favor the “Big Three” of GM, Chrysler and Ford
because they’re the only automakers producing three-quarter- and
one-ton pickup trucks.

Unless something major happens, Hamilton said, those local dealers should stay open for business.

“Our concerns about GM filing for bankruptcy, it’s too premature to
know how it affects us,” Hamilton said. “We did not get a letter; we’re
going to keep our franchise.”