Tran LaRue is building for the next generation at Minden Subaru.

Work on a new 6,200 sq. ft. service centre at the dealership, located on Hwy. 35, got underway late last month. It will see the facility grow to 12 service bays, from five, and expand its offerings for electric vehicle (EV) owners.

LaRue told The Highlander the $2 million redevelopment will include the purchase and installation of a specialty hoist, used to lift EV batteries, reinforced tables to store and work on the batteries, and three-stage hydro technology to properly charge and service them.

“We’re really excited about this project. That portion of the dealership was built in the 1960s – there have been some additions in the past, but we’ve run out of space there,” LaRue said. “What this does is set us up well for the future. It’s going to be a state-of-theart build. We’ll have plenty of new space to grow into.”

He said there’s been an increased demand for vehicle servicing in recent years, with business tripling since the onset of the pandemic. That’s not necessarily a surprise for LaRue, who said “you can definitely tell” there’s more people residing in, and visiting, the Highlands. Per the 2021 Census, the County’s population increased 14 per cent between December 2016 and January 2021.

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The focus on EVs, he said, will help Minden Subaru stay ahead of the curve.

“The landscape has changed over the past few years. There’s a real push on EVs now. We want to make sure we’re compatible with that and providing services that all customers can access,” he said. “We’re still in the infancy of electrification, but we’ve seen in the past with other innovations – the changes will come around quickly.”

The new space will be more energy efficient too, LaRue notes. Instead of five garage doors, the service centre will feature one access point each at the front and rear of the building, as well as new heating and air conditioning systems.

LaRue is estimating an eight-month build, pegging completion for early 2024.

While he didn’t plan it this way, the project coincides with LaRue’s 10-year anniversary as owner of the local dealership.

“The time has flown by. It’s really quite a nice milestone. Our family has poured everything into this place over the past decade,” LaRue said, noting his wife, Tammy, son Chad, daughter Breana, and son-in-law Trevor, all work at the dealership. “I’m making plans for my kids to take this over one day, and hopefully their kids after them.

“I’m fourth generation in Haliburton County. My grandparents came here in the early 1900s and settled on South Lake in Minden. My grandfather, AJ, was a serial entrepreneur. I’d like to keep that spirit, that tradition of business alive in our family. That’s a big reason for us doing this project – building for the future.”

LaRue said the rebuild will create jobs, not just for contractors but for locals looking to break into the automotive industry.

“We will be looking for good quality technicians, but this also opens doors for students. We have a strong relationship with the high school – we see this as an opportunity to bring young workers in and expose them to a high-quality operation in a top notch space. That’s one of the most exciting things about this whole thing for me.”

For more information on Minden Subaru, visit minden-subaru.ca.

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