WALLA WALLA -- Customers will continue to have access to Ford vehicles, warranty service and repairs here despite information in a recent letter campaign from Ford Motor Co., the operator of the local dealership said Tuesday.
Josh Dykes, co-owner of Legacy Ford, said he and business partner Tony Grover have no plans to leave the market. He said he's on the lookout for land and a permanent home for Legacy in Walla Walla.
"I don't know any plainer way to say that," Dykes said. "We're actively looking for real estate to build."
Dykes said confusion was created when local customers began receiving letters from the Ford Motor Co. this month. The letters signed by Ford's vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, Kenneth M. Czubay, say Ford of Walla Walla Inc. "will no longer be in operation as part of our dealer network ..."
The letter recommends a selection of three other area Ford dealerships. Two of those are Legacy dealerships in LaGrande and Pasco. The third is Tom Denchel Ford Country in Hermiston.
Legacy announced its intention to move into the Walla Walla market about five months ago. Dykes said Ford Motor Co. had planned to close the operation after its dealer development program with former owner Kirk Williams ended last fall.
As a result of that changeover Dykes said Walla Walla became the market area for Legacy Ford of Pasco. The local operation is now "an extension of the franchise in Pasco," he said.
"We will continue to sell new cars because we can park in our market area, and Walla Walla is Legacy's market area," he said.
Dykes said he's been working with the property owners at the corners of Rose and Colville streets to continue operating there after the lease expires at the end of June.
He said Legacy's move into the market should offer more inventory to consumers because of Legacy's breadth and stock.
Dykes said Ford of Walla Walla's relatively small inventory has been a challenge for consumers in recent years. "Our intention is to supply a large base of inventory," he said. The dealership runs three shuttles each day between here and the Tri-Cities, carrying parts for service and vehicles, if needed.
Dykes said he considered sending out another letter to customers to help clarify Legacy's position on the changes in the business, but he worried it might add to the confusion.
"The people in Walla Walla need to take it for face value," he said. "They need to go down there and see we're there every day."
Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8321.