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Done deal for car dealerships

Dennis WebbPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

The buyers of three local car dealerships are planning to move two of them to new buildings in West Glenwood.Longtime Glenwood Springs car dealer Ron Esch completed the sale of two dealerships Tuesday morning. The new owners of Two Rivers Chevrolet and Red Mountain Subaru-Nissan will operate under the name of Vista Auto Group, as will Esch’s Canyon Honda dealership.Vista Auto Group will manage Canyon Honda with Esch while it waits for final ownership transfer of that dealership.The group’s president, Rod Buscher, said Tuesday that it has contracted to buy land along Interstate 70 to relocate the Honda and Subaru-Nissan dealerships. The dealerships would be moved to near the existing Chevrolet dealership.They currently are located on South Glen Avenue in south Glenwood. Buscher said those properties will be sold.Buscher said he’s not yet able to release the exact location of the proposed dealerships. He said the plans will require rezoning approval.”Once that takes place and we get our plans approved we’ll be building new dealerships,” he said.Buscher founded and was president of the car dealership that former Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway helped open in 1989. They sold that company in 1998.Another of Vista Auto Group’s owners is Alex Gillett, a son of ski resort investor George Gillett. The Gilletts own a Subaru, Chrysler and Jeep dealership in Silverthorne.Vista Auto Group’s parent company is Summit Automotive Partners, based in Vail.In March, Esch sold the real estate associated with his four automotive franchises for about $11.2 million, ending a lender’s foreclosure action against him. The sales of the franchises themselves were pending approvals of the car manufacturers. Buscher said he expects the Honda approval to occur within a few weeks.He declined to release the price Vista Auto Group paid for the franchises.Vista Auto Group met with the dealerships’ 60 employees Tuesday morning. Buscher plans to add new employees while retaining the existing staff.”We had a great meeting with them. … They’re excited about the new opportunities,” he said.He said the company will work to attract more business from local residents who now leave Glenwood Springs to buy cars.”We believe we’ll make it worth their while to do business with us instead of leaving town,” he said.In a news release Tuesday, Buscher added, “One of our priorities is to give back to the communities we serve in the form of charitable efforts and contributions. Both Vista Auto and our team of employees will participate in those kinds of endeavors.”Buscher said the company had hoped to put up new signs at the dealerships Tuesday but the signs’ delivery was held up by a snowstorm in the mountains.Esch could not be reached for comment Tuesday. His lender, Falcon Financial, foreclosed on him in the middle of a dispute over the terms of a loan of about $10 million issued in 2000. Esch had sued Falcon Financial over the loan dispute last June.He previously has indicated an interest in buying land on Wulfsohn Road in West Glenwood and acquiring a Cadillac franchise after selling his dealerships.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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