It was with a heavy heart that the Krejci family, owners of Krejci Ford in Blooming Prairie, announced over the weekend that the business is officially parting ways with the Ford Motor Co., ending the franchise’s 100-year presence in the community.
“I feel like we’re letting down our customers and our community,” Cheri Krejci said about the decision Monday. “We are, however, going to continue on with our great service technicians that we have and continue to service and repair all makes and models of vehicles.”
The transition from an auto dealership to a solely automotive repair business was not an easy decision for the family, Krejci said, but added that it was a decision they made on their own after attempts to sell the franchised dealership were unsuccessful.
“We are just at a point in our lives where it’s harder and harder to be a Ford dealer with the various expenses that come with it,” Krejci said, noting that having to pay monthly interest on every vehicle in the lot was just one — albeit large — part of their financial commitment to operating a Ford dealership. “Once the resignation is finalized, there won’t be another Ford dealer here in Blooming Prairie. We tried to avoid that, but with the requirements for a new dealer to come into any point and certain guidelines they had to meet, we just were not able to find the right people for that.”
The Krejci family has owned the local Ford dealership in Blooming Prairie for the last 47 years, with Krejci’s husband, Rick, and his two brothers taking over the dealership from their father in 1990. Since then, the dealership has received 15 President’s awards, which are given to dealers who provide the highest level of customer service, customer satisfaction and overall customer experience. Cheri Krejci said that she feels they have served both Blooming Prairie and the franchise well over the years, but with retirement nearing and new car sales on the decline, ending the partnership with the franchise was a necessary step to take.
“COVID-19 did have an impact, but even prior to that we could see a decline in new car sales,” Krejci said, adding that the family had been in serious talks prior to the pandemic about resigning. “The decline of the farm economy was also a factor – we used to have farmers who traded trucks every few years, but that has not happened now for several.”
Krejci said that the internet has also brought hardships to the business, noting that fewer people come to the lot in person to browse vehicles and instead look online to see if the dealership has what they’re looking for. If they don’t, Krejci said those potential customers don’t even bother stopping in.
“It wasn’t without trying,” Krejci said, reiterating that the family wanted to keep Ford in Blooming Prairie if at all possible. “It’s been weighing on us for a while, but it is a business decision that needed to happen.”
Moving forward, Krejci said they will determine the new business name as they move toward a garage and mechanic business model. While they are having to let go of their one salesperson, who was kept approsed about the decision throughout the whole process, the service techs all plan to stay on staff.
“Our guys have been here a long time and they all have their own following,” Krejci said, noting that one service tech has been employed at the business for 28 years and the other two have been around for more than 15. “They all said right away that they want to stay, which felt good.”
According to Krejci, it will take anywhere from one to two months for the resignation process to be complete. In the meantime, it will be “business as usual” for warrant, recall and repair service. Once the resignation is complete, Krejci said it will no longer be able to provide warranty and recall services, but will move forward with its new business plan as an automotive repair shop for vehicles of all makes and models.
Krejci said that they also plan to remain connected and involved in the variety of nonprofits and fundraisers throughout the Blooming Prairie area, stating that want to continue to pay it forward for how good the local communities has been to the business over the years.
“Thank you to all our wonderful customers and all those who have supported us for the last 30 years,” Krejci said. “We appreciate everything you’ve done with us and for us, and we hope to be able to help you in the future with all your service needs.”