Kelley growing in Decatur

August 8th, 2018

By Sherry Slater | The Journal Gazette

Kelley Automotive Group is expanding its presence in Adams County, where it plans to invest about $15 million to set up shop with four more dealerships.

The Fort Wayne-based car dealer has acquired Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram franchises from Shifferly Dodge in Decatur, officials announced Tuesday.

The deal allows Kelley Automotive to consolidate the brands into one destination for car shoppers. The company already operates Tom Kelley Chevrolet Buick and Tom Kelley Ford in Decatur.

Shifferly will remain in business, selling and repairing used cars on its current lot at 704 N. 13th St. About 20 employees will remain with the company. Kelley has hired away one technician.

Tom Kelley expects to create about 25 new jobs in Decatur next year, when the company opens a new Chrysler showroom. A construction crew will break ground on the project this fall, with an estimated opening date of Oct. 1, 2019.

Next on Kelley's agenda is tearing down the existing GM, Chevy, Buick building and replacing it with an updated showroom for the three brands. All this will be done on 13th Street, where Kelley leases 11.5 acres from the Capital Automotive REIT, a real estate investment trust. Soon, though, Kelley will own that land.

“It's a significant investment on our part,” he said, adding that new car inventory alone will be a few million dollars.

The announcement comes just five months after Kelley announced plans to invest $45 million to $50 million to relocate five local Kelley Automotive operations onto property he bought along I-69 off Illinois Road in Fort Wayne.

The dealer's local car lots, which are less than 1 mile away from the future headquarters, sit on property owned by Capital Automotive REIT.

“This time, when I went to them and said I'd move unless they sold me the land, they believed me,” Kelley said, referring to the pending Decatur deal.

Kelley's father, the late businessman and community leader Jim Kelley, was born in Decatur. Kelley said this latest investment should reassure the residents that the Kelley family is committed to Decatur.