Managing change

New general manager to steer expansion of Steamboat Motors

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Steamboat Motors' new general manager, Jeff Steinke, has a lot of work ahead of him as the car dealership prepares to expand to the east.

— Jeff Steinke has a big job ahead of him as the new general manager at the Steamboat Motors car dealership.

On his desk Thursday was a blueprint for the dealership's eastwardly expansion at its 2310 Lincoln Ave. location.

"I think this place just has the opportunity to go nuts," said Steinke, referring to the growth of the business. "I'm coming in at a good time."

Steinke, 46, replaces longtime Steamboat Motors general manager John Centner. Centner announced in late February that he is joining Randall Reed's World Class Automotive Group as president of its Colorado operations.

Steinke has earned degrees in business and finance as well as a minor from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He started his career in behavioral sciences.

His father owned a new car dealership.

"I grew up in the business but never thought I wanted to be in it," Steinke said.

He said he has a passion for cars, and he decided he wanted to be in the business and has been running car dealerships for 13 years.

For the past six years, Steinke ran an Audi and Mercedes dealership in Colorado Springs.

"We've been in and out of Steamboat over the years," Steinke said. "The opportunity to come up and make a living up here, that was kind of neat."

He has family in Steamboat and plans on moving his family from Woodland Park outside Colorado Springs when school is finished. Steinke has three daughters who will attend Steamboat schools. His wife, Suzan, is an elementary school teacher, and she has a passion for philanthropy.

"She's a big volunteer," Steinke said.

He said Steamboat has a unique market for vehicles. The sales volume is lower, so it is more customer-service oriented.

"The business is all about the people," Steinke said. "It's not about the cars."

He plans to raise the level of service for the service center. Steinke said he'd start with little changes, such as a fresh coat of paint. Garage door sensors also will be installed at the service entrance so customers will not have to get out of their cars before pulling in. Mechanics will do routine checks to make sure all the lights are working on each vehicle.

On June 1, he said the company plans to break ground on the expansion of the dealership lot, which will allow for 60 more vehicles.

"We'll have the largest inventory of cars in Routt County," Steinke said.

The expansion also should help spruce up the west corridor into the city. Roadside landscaping will be installed, and an old building that currently houses Rummagers and Steamboat Stoveworks will be torn down.

Rummagers owner Rose Atkins said she is in the process of negotiating a lease for another location. The building that houses Robinson Brick Co. will remain.

The Steamboat Motors expansion will easily double the size of the dealership, Steinke said. The expansion should be complete by Aug. 1.

- To reach Matt Stensland, call 871-4210

or e-mail mstensland@steamboatpilot.com

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