MIAMI — Hurricane Irma did not spare some new-vehicle dealerships — including their service departments — when it assailed Florida last month. Destruction was worst across the Florida Keys and along the state's west coast.
Ted Smith, president of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, said he did not have precise figures on the extent of damage to dealerships across the state.
"We were blessed in Florida not to have a huge number of property damage losses at our stores," Smith told Fixed Ops Journal. "Certainly there were some in the key counties."
Cox Automotive estimates that the storm destroyed 200,000 to 400,000 vehicles in Florida. Cox did not offer a projection of how many vehicles damaged by Irma could be repaired.
In Key West, the hurricane initially disabled 16 of the 22 service bays at Niles Sales and Service, which sells Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC and Nissan vehicles.
Dealer principal Jack Niles III says the service department has replaced a water-damaged tire machine and wheel balancer, and is awaiting a new alignment machine.
"Our service garage area was pretty dated, so you have to find the silver lining," Niles says. "When all is said and done, it will be a much better service operation."
Keys Auto Center, part of the Warren Henry Automotive Group, sells Toyota, Ford, Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler and Ram vehicles in Key West. The dealership endured damage to its parts department, says Fixed Operations Manager Jose Buergo.
"We had some customers whose cars were left behind for service," Buergo says.