Hello Subaru of Santa Clarita celebrated its grand opening Thursday afternoon. Subaru of America and Hello dealership officials said they look forward to growing the brand in the area.
After no Subaru presence in the Santa Clarita Valley for the past three years, according to the Hello Automotive Group, Hello Subaru will fill that gap. It officially opened for business in June while construction continued. Now, work on the facility is completed.
During the grand opening ceremony at the Creekside Road location, Hello Auto President Karl Schmidt said he’s thrilled to be in Santa Clarita and thrilled to be selling Subaru vehicles.
“We do things differently at Hello,” Schmidt told a showroom floor full of people at the event, which included a ribbon-cutting, “and Subaru does things differently.”
With Hello’s no-haggling incentives during the auto-buying process and dealership features such as videos that the service department sends customers, offering a look at their vehicles in the garage with technicians explaining the work they’re doing, Hello officials have said they hope to create a unique experience. Equally “different,” Subaru as an auto manufacturer is, according to their website, committed to “positively impact the world around us” with various programs that benefit the communities their dealerships serve.
A Minneapolis native, Schmidt moved to California about three years ago after more than 30 years of experience in the auto industry. He said the SCV community has welcomed him with warmth and open arms.
Tim Stallings, the Los Angeles zone director for Subaru of America, said Subaru is still an emerging brand in the Southwest, and added that he sees the Hello Automotive Group as a key factor in bringing the brand to more Southern Californians.
“We think there’s still a lot of opportunity to grow here,” he said during the ceremony. “And facilities like this help us do that … So, I know that this organization has a special way of doing business. I think it’s going to pay off in the end.”
Thomas Doll, president and chief executive officer for Subaru of America, was also at the event and praised the Santa Clarita dealership for the early impact it’s already made since opening its doors.
“They’ve already been a monthly — what we call a monthly ‘Love Promise’ winner,” he said.
Schmidt told The Signal that the Subaru “Love Promise” program has five pillars that the company wants all dealerships to address within the communities they serve, including “Subaru Loves Earth,” “Subaru Loves to Care,” “Subaru Loves to Help,” “Subaru Loves Learning” and “Subaru Loves Pets.”
“So, what they do,” Schmidt said, “is, as a dealer, Subaru requires us to submit a minimum of six times a year a story on what we did — a ‘Love Promise’ event — that lines up with the pillars.”
Schmidt shared with The Signal Hello’s “Subaru Loves Learning” story where the dealership did a recent backpack drive for students in the area.
“We as a company donated $25 worth of school supplies for every backpack that was collected,” he said. “And in the end, I think we collected 6- or 7,000 backpacks. We donated them to the school, we wrote a story around that, we took video around that, we submitted that to Subaru, and then they voted nationally and picked a ‘Love Promise’ winner for the month.”
At the grand opening, Doll said that Hello did what no other Subaru dealership had ever done.
“We’ve never had a retailer,” he said, “that was in business for like 68 days, and in August, they became our ‘Love Promise’ monthly winner.”
Additionally, between Nov. 17 and Jan. 3, Subaru as a manufacturer plans to reward each dealership with a check for their car sales and repairs. So, for every car that’s sold, Subaru gives its dealerships $250, and for every repair order, they give dealerships $1. Dealerships then gift that money to local philanthropic funds of their choosing.
Hello Auto Group also gives funds of its own to local programs. They offer $100 from every car sale or lease and $5 from every repair order to a philanthropic fund of their choosing. Hello’s current chosen group to support is the WiSH Education Foundation, which helps, according to the WiSH website, bridge the gap in state funding and provide for student programs in the William S. Hart Union High School District.
Doll presented Amy Daniels, executive director of WiSH, with a $2,500 check on behalf of Hello Subaru to the foundation.
Area dignitaries at the event included Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste, Troy Hooper of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, and representatives from the offices of Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, Assemblywoman Suzette Martinez Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.
The Hello Auto Group entered the auto-selling market in 2019, with Kia of Valencia being the company’s first local dealership. They currently have six locations in California, including Hello Mazda of Valencia, which, according to Schmidt, is still under renovation and is expected to be completed in three months. The Kia dealership, Schmidt told The Signal, will soon take over the Pride Auto Body building next door. That project, he said, is still in the planning stages.
The new Subaru facility at 24000 Creekside Road marks the spot where The Signal was located between Sept. 8, 1986, and Oct. 7, 2016. The structure was leveled following the paper’s departure to make way for the construction of the auto dealership.