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Good timing

While North Broadway construction continues, Westlie Motors plans new building

April 21, 2008
By DAVE CALDWELL, Staff Writer
Contrary to the old saying, sometimes the more things change, the more they don’t stay the same.

In concert with the North Broadway reconstruction project under way in Minot, Westlie Motors has rolled out plans to raze and rebuild its tire center and used car business located in the 600 block of North Broadway.

Hank Ripplinger, fleet manager at Westlie, said the old building was likely built in the 1920s.

“The Nelson family had a Studebaker and American Motors dealership there for years,” Ripplinger said. “Then in the ‘70s, Westlie purchased that building to expand our tire and service business.”

Shelly Adams, marketing and public relations director at Westlie, said the new facility will be state-of-the-art. Westlie has purchased and cleaned out the lot immediately to the east of the current tire center, across Walders Street, and will utilize it for a large parking lot. The Westlie One Stop used car lot will utilize the south end of the building and lot.

“We hope with the new building we’ll have more space to serve our customers in Minot and western North Dakota,” Ripplinger said.

The new building will have 15 stalls to accommodate vehicles for service.

 “The new facility will be almost 14,000 square feet,” said Steve Blasing, Westlie president and CEO. “It will be substantially larger than the old one. We’ll be able to service motor homes and larger vehicles, which we weren’t able to do before.”

Blasing said Westlie worked with the City of Minot to put in landscaping as well – “So it will look nice when it’s done,” he said.

“We worked with them on their beautification project on Broadway,” Blasing said.

The new building will also tie in to the recently upgraded truck center on 20th Avenue Southeast. Blasing indicated he is quite excited about the project.

“It will be a really nice, marquee building on North Broadway,” he said.

“We worked with the city to get commercial zoning for the property to the east of the current facility,” Ripplinger said. “That was also a Nelson property.”

The change won’t take long by construction standards, but it won’t be instant, so Westlie made contingency plans.

“We’ll work on having the tire center and quick service facility open by December,” Blasing said. “In the meantime, we purchased the Auto Max store right across from Simonson’s (on South Broadway) for our used car operation and some tire and service things to be done during the building phase. That will be our temporary quarters.”

Blasing said the current facility has a good and growing customer base, which he hopes will only improve with the new building.

“Everything will be quicker and faster,” he said. “We’ll have additional technicians, additional service operations we can do, so by the time it’s done, it will be the largest tire and quick service probably in western North Dakota – probably most of North Dakota.”

“It’s exciting because you have a company that started with the Westlie family in Minot in 1921 – they actually started before that in Parshall,” Adams said. “If you look back through the history, they have continually invested in the community. Every time there was a need to update or change, it was done. They started on Central Avenue downtown and continually updated.”

Adams said the Westlie family built the Town and County Shopping Center, which was one of the first indoor shopping malls in the U.S. Two of the Westlie brothers are still involved in the business, she said.

“It’s still run very much like a family operation,” Adams said. She said the company currently has around 125 employees, selling a variety of vehicles and services.

“Westlie Motors is a Ford-Lincoln-Mercury dealership, but we also have a heavy-duty truck franchise in Freightliner-Sterling-Western Star servicing Minot and all of western North Dakota,” Ripplinger said.

Westlie is utilizing local contractors on the project as well, Adams added.

“That’s a very strong point in our business,” she said. “We do absolutely everything locally that can be done here, to keep the dollars in our community.”

Blasing declined to disclose how much money the company is spending on the current project, but did offer a hint.

“It’s a lot,” he said with a laugh.

Article Photos

Dave Caldwell/MDN

Although not the official artist’s rendition, Shelly Adams of Westlie Motors says this building is similar to the new tire service building soon to be built in north Minot.



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