Used car dealer expanding at former Dodge dealership

J&M Automotive is expanding into the former Dodge dealership on New Haven Road in Naugatuck. -LARAINE WESCHLER

NAUGATUCK — The Bob’s Dodge dealership, which has sat empty on New Haven Road for the past two years, will soon see new life.

J&M Automotive, a used car dealer currently located at 820 New Haven Road, is expanding and moving its offices into the vacant dealership down the street.

“We’re bursting at the seams,” J&M co-owner Garrett Johnson said.

J&M bought the old Dodge building at 746 New Haven Road from Three Knights, LLC for $1.75 million.

Johnson said J&M has outgrown its current location over the past 15 years, with a sharp uptick in sales over the past five years.

“People are buying more used cars,” he said.

Johnson said customers are buying all sorts of used cars, from compact vehicles to sports utility vehicles to pickup trucks.

If the economy improves, Johnson said more people may buy new vehicles instead of used cars, but others who were not planning to buy a car at all might buy a used car.

“Time will tell. … There’s always a market for used cars. People like to save money,” Johnson said.

The company will keep its current lot, but leave the building empty for future use, he said. J&M will move its mechanical and sales offices to the old Dodge building.

Johnson said J&M has had to stop taking service jobs from customers over the past year to concentrate its resources on its own stock. The expansion will double the size of J&M’s service department and allow technicians to work on more vehicles.

Johnson said he planned to hire five to seven new employees, including another three technicians. The company currently employs 25.

The expansion will also allow the company to increase its stock of used cars. Johnson said he’s looking to add about 50 cars to his inventory, from about 320 now to 350 to 400 cars.

J&M Automotive has been in business in Naugatuck for 25 years, since April 1987. The company expanded four years ago, tearing down the restaurant next door to make way for more parking and adding to the offices.

Workers are busy preparing the new location, cleaning out the old auto dealership and turning the showroom into office space.

The company is already parking cars in the new lot and Johnson said he expected to be up and running in the new offices in the next four to eight weeks.

“We think we can give our customers much better service,” Johnson said.

Just up the street, at 868 New Haven Rd, Shep’s Auto LLC is also expanding, building surplus parking lots behind some of the houses along the road. Shep’s owner, Dean Rotatori, was not available for comment before press time.