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Meeting Approval

Updated: Apr 23

Article & Photos by Jessica McCafferty

Huttig Nissan’s new building, off Route 3 in the Town of Plattsburgh, is a sight to see. In the warmer months, the building is nestled in a lush green alcove of trees. In the colder months, the barren tree line is peppered with rocks cleared from the site, giving a rustic feel that contrasts with the sleek building. The large red Nissan logo, prominent over the glass front doors with matching red handles, stands out, while the dealership’s name appears to the left, in a more subdued dark gray.

As you enter the building, the showroom feels expansive with light flooding in through the floor to ceiling windows, bright paint and few opaque walls. The seating area is a dove gray mix of chairs and loveseats. Office walls are panels of glass and the desks minimalist. Everything feels so state-of-the-art and the glass adds a feeling of transparency. With so many clear walls and doors, one has to be careful not to lose focus and walk into one, as I discovered on my journey into dealer principal Julie Huttig’s inner sanctum for our interview.

When you are in a branded industry, there are expectations to meet and requirements to fill. The manufacturer you represent dictates your building’s appearance, starting from providing a base template and getting approval on your project blueprints, right down to picking out your paint colors. During our time together, Huttig shared the lengthy process of going from a leased 8,500 square foot lakeside building with a small sales lot packed four cars deep, to the sleek and modern 25,000 square foot building, with a sales lot twice the size.

When Julie and George Huttig expanded their Elizabethtown-based Auto Group to include a Nissan dealership in Plattsburgh, part of the dealer agreement required that they build a new location. That had always been the plan since their location was only being leased. They started the search for available land that would meet Nissan’s required footprint. Like most manufacturers, Nissan has set branding requirements that dictate minimum size of both building and sales lot, as well as the shape, style and color scheme of a dealership for their products.

A few miles west of the city of Plattsburgh, the Huttigs found the perfect fit. It made the minimum square footage requirement from Nissan, and would give the dealership an Adirondack feel. In April of 2016 the land purchase was made and the Huttigs started working with local engineer Aaron Ovios of RMS, P.C. with whom they had worked before. Nissan did not dictate the engineer used, but there were templates to work with and any customization had to be approved. The biggest template change for the Huttigs was an expanded service bay. Adding an additional 5,000 square feet to the space allowed more cars to be serviced at the same time to ensure quality certified service for new or returning customers. There is even a curtained wash bay.

In fall of 2019, with the help of local contractor, Luck Builders, the site was cleared and the steel frame was put up. Just as the frame was completed in March of 2020, the world shut down. The construction site was not considered an essential business, so it could no longer operate. However, the existing dealership, deemed essential, remained open allowing Julie Huttig to step into the role of general contractor, taking bids on the rest of the construction, researching, and ordering the best building materials. “Fortunately, before supply chain issues developed, we were able to procure everything we needed. We were very fortunate in that regard,” she emphasized.

Her involvement in the project also allowed Huttig an insight few have about their building, such as the inner workings of the HVAC system that she collaborated with the contractor on, as well as every approved Nissan paint color for the dealership.

In May of 2020 the Huttig job site became a challenge when restrictions were lifted for some businesses. Work crews from Parent’s Contracting, DS Specialties, Harvey Electric, E.T. Harris and Son, Jack Rugar Custom Painting, Lake Champlain Roofing and Bob Evan’s Fire Sprinklers were often on the site at the same time. When one contractor’s crew member got sick, the whole team was out. The focus needed to shift to another area of the project and to a team not in quarantine — something Huttig jokingly referred to as the “quarantine shuffle.” The problems extended the project’s time frame and it wasn’t until a year later they were ready to move.

In Spring of 2021 the project was finally completed. The vehicle lifts had been relocated to the new service bays, the new furniture had been delivered and it was time to move the rest. In May it was all hands-on-deck as it took the team three to four days to move the over 100 cars from the old Route 9 South location to the new Route 3 site. “We moved here and haven’t looked back,” Huttig offered. When asked about the best part of the project, she said with a laugh, “Finishing.”

As we wrapped up our conversation, I asked Huttig if there were plans to update or move their Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram dealership currently located on Route 9 south. With a sly little grin she said, “Funny you should mention that.” In April of 2022 the Huttigs purchased a parcel of land on the north side of the Tom Miller Road near the FW Webb building. They plan to break ground this summer. So, there is more construction in the future for the Huttig Auto Group and Julie Huttig might just be dusting off her general contractor’s hat, hoping to wrap up the new project in a much shorter time frame this time around.

Huttig Nissan

822 State Route 3

Plattsburgh, NY 12901


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