Sutliff ends Suzuki franchise, selling Paxton Street dealership

October 10. 2012 4:30PM

Jason Scott

After two years of ownership, Harrisburg-based Sutliff Auto Group has closed its Suzuki franchise and plans to sell its capital city dealership at the corner of Paxton and Cameron streets.

“It’s frustrating,” President John Sutliff said. “Suzuki has a great product and fantastic warranty. Unfortunately, they don’t do national, regional or local advertising. It makes it tough for a low-volume dealer to make an impact.”

At its peak, Sutliff Suzuki sold 30 new vehicles in a month, he said. That was in 2010, when Sutliff acquired the franchise from Faulkner Automotive Group and moved it to one of its used-car repair garages on South 16th Street. Sales had been tapering off.

An agreement is in place to sell the 7.6-acre property at 1000 Paxton St., which includes more than 50,000 square feet of building space, Sutliff said.

He would not disclose who is looking to buy the expansive lot or what the possible future use might be. The site is zoned light industrial.

Sutliff said he expected the deal to close by the end of the year.

The site, listed for $3.95 million through East Pennsboro Township-based Landmark Commercial Realty, was formerly Sutliff’s Ford lot. The listing broker, company President David Remmel, was not immediately available for comment.

Sutliff vacated the Ford site in 2007 after it sold the franchise. The car dealer sold used vehicles at the corner for a period after the Ford dealership closed, and it stored trade-in vehicles on the lot during the federal government’s Cash for Clunkers program. The Suzuki move to the Ford lot was announced last February.

“We originally acquired (Suzuki) when I was losing the Saturn stores, and my top priority was to keep good people employed and buildings filled,” Sutliff said. “It served its purpose for us.”

All but three of an estimated 15 employees have been moved to other Sutliff dealerships, he said.

Customers who purchased Suzuki vehicles from Sutliff are being told to go to either the company’s Volkswagen dealership on Paxton Street or Cadillac site on the Carlisle Pike in Cumberland County for service, he said. For warranty work, the nearest Suzuki dealership is in York County.