Writer / Amy Lant-Wenger
Photographer / Jubilee Edgell
There is one very apparent way to notice the evolution of Lakeside Chevrolet before ever even entering the building.
Turning into the parking lot of the dealership, located on State Road 15 on the northern edge of Warsaw, the striking façade of the structure meets with the carefully placed array of orange hazard cones and patches of broken earth. Construction is clearly underway, which seems only fitting for a business that is striving to become, as owner Tom Schilling puts it, “operation efficient and customer friendly.”
Schilling has been at the helm of the longtime local enterprise since the late 1980s, when he purchased the business. Warsaw has been a host city for Chevrolet auto sales over the course of many years, but at no other time has the business experienced a more lengthy, or more distinguished tenure, than that which has been achieved by the current administration and staff.
Lakeside Chevy has been situated along the State Road 15 corridor since 1999 and offers vehicles in both new and pre-owned condition. It also has a body shop and a full-service team of diligently trained mechanics ready to take on anything from basic oil changes to more complicated automotive needs.
Andy Duran, general manager, sat down with Schilling to marvel over the most recent spell of sales, when customer confidence was so robust, it allowed Lakeside Chevy to claim the title of being the fastest-growing retailer in the entire state of Indiana, much like this chevy dealership near Orange County.
So what are some of the amenities that have proven so enticing to their loyal customers?
“Every qualifying vehicle that we sell has a forever, bumper to bumper Powertrain warranty,” Schilling says.
Additionally, buyers are presented with the option to purchase a lifetime service warranty, which would cover damages that would occur as a result of accidents or similar extenuating circumstances.
With a somewhat volatile business climate over the past year among the spectre of an ominous worldwide pandemic, the men both share a positive attitude about seeing buying trends generally unwavering. They did, however, notice that most of the cars that were moving off the lot were of the pre-owned category.
“Our ratio was something like five to one, used over new,” Duran says.
Meanwhile, he credits a skilled staff for keeping the momentum moving on an upward slope.
“We were making good sales in 2020,” he adds. “They brought a lot of talent to the table, and just in the past four, five months, we’ve more than doubled our sales. We usually have maybe 10 cars in inventory at any one time.”
Lakeside Chevy has recently added its first vehicle that is quite experimental for this region, in that it is 100% electric, the Chevy Bolt. Admittedly, Schilling says, “It’s more of a car for an urban setting,” where charging stations are more prominently available. But he hopes to pique an interest in prospective drivers.
“This is more truck country, more SUVs,” Duran adds.
Schilling and Duran also talked about finessing what will soon be completed to streamline the auto buying and servicing experience even more. An app is being developed, which will allow patrons to view the inventory, schedule service calls, make maintenance inquiries and take advantage of other features.
The winning streak for Lakeside Chevy extends beyond the Warsaw area as well. Schilling was able to acquire a second location in Huntington, and the newly rebranded enterprise was launched on June 14. Another goal for both businesses is to continue the recruitment of staff members. Opportunities are available in several avenues of the business, with training provided for those willing to learn. The company also offers 401K and a benefits package which includes insurance coverage.
For now, Lakeside Chevy is more than satisfied with its success, but there is always room for exploration and expansion.
“Everything we’re doing, it means we’re growing,” Schilling says. “Personally and within the dealership.”
Lakeside Chevrolet is located at 427 Chevy Way, north of U.S. 30 on State Road 15, in Warsaw. For more information, call 574-306-4298 or visit them online at lakesidechevy.com.