David and Mary Buerkle, the brother and sister owners of Minnesota’s second oldest Honda dealership, worked closely with CNH Architects on a major expansion for their third generation Buerkle Honda store in Vadnais Heights.
The concept was to take the manufacturer’s requirements for the store’s design and style, but to add some personalizing and welcoming aspects, all while maintaining a sensible business flow and enhancing customer comfort. The last big project was done in 2001, and the store needed to blend that with the needed significant additions.
“We wanted to make it look like ours, and we impressed that upon Quinn (Hutson) and Brooke (Jacobson),” said Dave Buerkle. The business owner, who traces his roots to his father’s first store in Fairmont, Minnesota, said that a lot of other dealerships are built and look very similar.
One of the personalizing aspects was the ceiling treatment, said Mary Buerkle. A cloud concept, with lowered ceiling panels helped to reduce showroom noise and provide better overall acoustics. Multi-slatted partitions also served to dampen the sound.
More than tripling the size of the customer lounge, with seating going from 32 to 105, helped to make it a more comfortable setting, the Buerkles explained.
Sweeping contemporary lines in the front of the store mesh well with the logo and Honda’s “blue can” design, and ceiling treatments carry through the curves. A fireplace room off to the side is handy to the children’s room next door.
Dave said he found an expanded level of expertise with Hutson and Jacobson, who also served up interior color combinations and carpet selections. “From start to finish, they really had an eye for how the finished product should look,” said Mary.
Decorative and opaque plastic dividers separate key areas of the store, allowing light to come through beautifully, but blocking some of the winter drafts, Mary explained.
“All promises were put into writing, so you felt very comfortable about where you were each step of the way,” she said. There was transparency to the process, said Mary, and the owners felt that everyone was doing their job.
“They really exceeded our expectations on the design, and made it inviting, visually” said Mary. “I give CNH a huge amount of credit for their creativity, being able to take a commercial building and make it beautiful.”
It’s almost as if the people from CNH don’t know the extra work they do, because that’s just the way they are, she said. And, the Buerkles said CNH was not afraid to raise questions when items came up that might disrupt the intended flow and purpose for the finished project. “They would remind us of that, not just make it easy on themselves,” said Dave.
With projects of this scale, there has to be an anticipation of the future, said Mary. Honda, she said, has always had a growth trajectory. Buerkle Honda is on track to meet increasing customer expectations for the overall experience.