Rifle residents will soon be able to buy a Ford from Columbine Ford and know Todd Helton is one of the dealership owners.
The popular Colorado Rockies first baseman and Front Range auto dealer Mike Peebles have purchased Columbine Ford in Rifle for an undisclosed amount, according to Peebles. The sale closed on Monday.
Sam Levine and his son, Rick Levine, started Columbine Ford in Rifle more than 20 years ago, and Peebles said the name will remain the same. The Denver Post erroneously reported Tuesday that the name of the dealership would be Todd Helton Ford.
"I got to know Todd when he was a rookie," Peebles said Tuesday. "He started doing TV commercials for us about 10 years ago and we had talked about his someday getting into the business. So when this became available in an outdoors area like Rifle, I asked him and he said he'd be all over that."
Helton is an avid hunter and outdoorsman.
Helton, 39, has one year, worth $5 million, left on his contract with the Rockies. He said he plans to come back in 2013, after a right-hip injury sidelined him this season.
Rifle Area Chamber of Commerce Director Frank Ladd was pleased to hear of the purchase by a high-profile athlete.
"Any time you can get a big name into a small market, like Rifle, it's a plus," he said. "I think it also says a lot about the community and that he thought enough of it to invest his money in a local business."
Ladd said he hoped Helton's name will attract people from outside the Rifle area, looking to purchase a Ford, and also help other local businesses.
"They're still selling the same high quality vehicles they always have," Ladd added. It's been a quality dealership that's served this community well and I doubt that will change."
Peebles, who operates Barbee's Freeway Ford and Longmont Ford, said Columbine Ford will be run by Jimmy Breslin of Silt, a longtime auto sales professional. Breslin is also a minority owner, Peebles said. No other staff changes are expected, and Peebles hoped to be able to expand the sales and service staff by 50 percent in the next 12 months.
"You're going to see a lot more high quality used cars," Peebles explained. "Both my dealerships focus on that, so look for a five or six time increase in used car volume in the next 12 months."
The Columbine Ford web site lists 20 employees.
"Rifle is a great town, Columbine Ford has a good reputation, with all those Ford service awards," Peebles said. "Ford's hot right now, we're good at selling used cars, so doesn't that sound like a recipe for success?"