By JIM PARKER
The Post and Courier
The latest Baker Motor Co. expansion — to feature up to 10 Cadillacs displayed inside at any one time — should be quite visible by summer.
Baker Motor Co. started construction in February on a 12,500-square-foot showroom for its storied domestic marque.
“We are off and running,” Tommy Baker, company president, said this week.
The posh Cadillac building, to front the Baker Buick GMC dealership on Savannah Highway, is slated to be ready by August or September, he said. Baker Motor Co. added the three General Motors brands to its stable of carmakers early last year.
Simultaneously, the Charleston-based automotive group is broadening its management team to accommodate the growth.
Strom Altman, a 25-year veteran of the car business including as a dealer, joined the company Feb. 25 as general manager.
“This is the best management team I have ever experienced,” said Altman, who started his career at his father’s dealership, Altman Dodge, in 1989.
“I never intended to work for anybody else, but in my mind, I always thought that if I were going to, it would be Tommy Baker.”
Said Baker, “I’ve admired Strom for years. I am thrilled about the construction of our new Cadillac facility and Strom leading our dealership through this exciting time.”
Trey Baker is the new general sales manager. He built up 14 years experience primarily in Durham, N.C., at a Hyundai Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership. “It’s a privilege,” his uncle, Tommy Baker, said.
According to Baker Motor Co., the Cadillac building will boast a 10-car showroom; customer lounge with refreshment area; parts and accessory “boutique;” and two consumer-friendly, enclosed drives for service and deliveries. The dealership also will house the Cadillac Arts and Science Center.
Baker said the Cadillac operation will have 30-40 employees and staff. For the time being, the luxury car brand wll remain in the Buick GMC building. Baker Motor Co. as a group employs close to 200 people.
Altman has previous experience as a general manager and dealer principal, beginning in 1994 at Altman Dodge. The Altman family, which includes his father Warren Altman, sold the dealership to Charlotte-based chain Sonic Automotive in 1999. Strom Altman remained as dealer operator for six years, then bought the dealership back from Sonic in 2005. He later revamped the operation as Strom Altman Suzuki.
Late last year, Suzuki disclosed it was pulling out of the United States in terms of the new car business. The manufacturer’s decision left North Charleston-based Altman as the only Suzuki parts and service dealer in South Carolina, according to Baker Motor Co.
In his spare time, Strom Altman is an accomplished late model stock car driver, having earned three track championships and winning more than 250 events in 20 plus years of racing.
Baker Motor Co., which is celebrating 25 years in business, sells Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Infiniti, Range Rover, Land Rover, Jaguar, Maserati and smart cars and trucks as well as Sprinter vans at its operation at 1511 Savannah Highway, heads up Baker Buick GMC Cadillac at 1621 Savannah Highway and also has a pre-owned car store in Mount Pleasant.
To find out more, visit www.bakermotorcompany.com, the dealership’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BakerMotorCompany, or call 843-852-4000.
Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
An artist’s rendering shows the new Baker Cadillac building, to be located in front of the Baker Buick GMC dealership on Savannah Highway west of the Ashley (Provided).×
Tommy Baker, chief executive of Baker Motor Co., has a host of plans for the company this year including completing the new Baker Cadillac showroom on Savannah Highway (Jim Parker/Staff 3-9-2013).×