After more than a year of negotiations, Don K Chevrolet of Whitefish has finalized the purchase of Glacier Subaru in Evergreen. The deal gives the dealership a line of 60 new and used Subaru cars, as well as expanded car repair capabilities.
Don Kaltschmidt, owner of Don K Chevrolet, closed the deal on Feb. 17 and was officially operating as a Subaru dealership the next day. Glacier Subaru was under the ownership of a five-person consortium based out of Seattle. Kaltschmidt takes over all of the dealership’s assets and inventory, as well as six employees.
Kaltschmidt also brought onboard John Simpson as his sales manager. Simpson was with the Glacier Subaru dealership from 2005-2007 and most recently worked in the Subaru business in New Mexico.
As of last week, Kaltschmidt planned to add a service writer, bringing the total of new employees to eight, including employees in sales, service and parts. Don K Chevrolet now has 36 employees total.
The deal immediately brought 40 new and 20 used Subarus to Don K’s lot, bumping up total inventory to more than 160 cars, more than half of which are new. All the vehicles have been transferred from the old Glacier Subaru location on U.S. Highway 2 East near Applebee’s in Evergreen to Don K Chevrolet’s location at the south end of Whitefish on U.S. Highway 93.
Simpson said the new Subaru lineup was well received during the first week.
“We’ve had lots of good traffic,” Simpson said. “It’s almost as if people were waiting for this change to take place.”
Kaltschmidt said he has worked at the dealership for 25 years and owned it for 20. The business was founded in 1950 as Harlow Chevrolet by Art Harlow, the grandfather of Sen. Ryan Zinke, Kaltschmidt said.
Don K offers a line of new Chevrolets, as well as a used car selection featuring a variety of makes and models. Kaltschmidt said he had been looking to diversify when he decided upon Subaru because of its popularity and viability in the Flathead. He said there are about 3,000 Subarus on the road in Flathead County, including many in Whitefish.
“If you were going to build a car for Whitefish or Kalispell or Columbia Falls, this is it,” Kaltschmidt said of Subarus. “It’s all-wheel drive, fuel efficient and it’s very dog friendly. It’s just made for Northwest Montana.”
Calling his service, body and parts departments “world class,” Kaltschmidt said his dealership already has the ability to repair a range of cars. But bringing in trained Subaru technicians, he said, “allows us to better serve our customers.”
Kaltschmidt also points out that his business now caters to a distinctly different demographic.
“We can be more diverse,” he said. “The Chevy customer is different than the Subaru customer, usually.”
The Subaru side of Don K’s business has been operating out of the dealership’s body shop area. But within 18 months, Kaltschmidt said he will add a new facility with a Subaru showroom and customer area.
“We’ve got all of the Subarus here and things are going well,” Kaltschmidt said.
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