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Rear window perspective Featured

6:28am EDT September 1, 2005
It’s been a long 10 years for Bob Fairchild but it was worth the wait; the president of Fairchild Chevrolet has finally opened the doors of his newly constructed 45,000-square-foot Westlake dealership.

“We were in a facility in Lakewood that was built in 1948, which my dad purchased in 1960 — so therefore, a building that was completed in 2005 just has very little in connection with an old building like that,” he says.

Shortly after Fairchild’s father passed away in 1994, General Motors asked him to consider moving the dealership to the I-90 area.

Fairchild optioned property, General Motors gave its blessing and GM’s approved national architectural firm began drawing up the site plan for what turned into a $6 million building project. The dealership, set on 7.5 acres, can inventory about 500 units on site, while the old location was maxed out at 275.

Fairchild hired 12 new employees in the first 10 days in the new building and expects to add another 15 to 20 within two years as an element of his financing with the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Certified Development Company (504) loan program.

Fairchild says there are three pieces of the construction puzzle that business owners need to have in place when building a new facility.

An approved city plan. ”The city is very careful in the planning processes, and they want the outcome to be excellent,” he says. “They have a process that is rigorous and difficult, and it takes time.
“We had to work through the city — with the planning department and city council — and get everything approved. By the time we got through all those various committees, it added up to 10 years.”

A secure site. Fairchild spent six of the last 10 years in court, fighting a protest of his opening a dealership within 10 miles of another Chevrolet dealer.
“They have the right to protest, although not the right to stop it,” he says. “I won at every level ... and believe it or not, it went to the U.S. Supreme Court. They refused to hear it, which meant it was over.”

Not long after that, the owner of a neighboring manufacturing company sold his land to Fairchild, who demolished the building and inherited a severe environmental problem. It took time to remediate the problem and get a clean bill of health from the Environmental Protection Agency.

A solid financial relationship. Without the support of a financial institution, the job won’t get done. Fairchild worked with Fifth Third Bank to put his financing package together and with Growth Capital Corp. to receive the 504 loan.

One of the biggest lessons Fairchild learned during this process was patience.

“I worked and concentrated on this project almost every day of my life for about eight-and-a-half or nine years. You’d think with that much effort, you could move things along a little bit more promptly,” he says. “But there were issues, like the protest and the EPA.

“No matter how hard you try, they have a life of their own. I don’t care how hard you work, sometimes you’ve got to live with the timeframe that the various entities allow you to have.”

HOW TO REACH: Fairchild Chevrolet, (440) 899-8888 or www.fairchildchevy.com