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Crossroads follows statewide trend of increased auto sales

ALLISON MILES

By ALLISON MILES
Aug. 10, 2013 at 3:10 a.m.

General Manager Dan Wallace at Mac Haik Ford in Victoria has seen an increase in sales for both trucks and cars. He added that the dealership is seeking additional employees to deal with the demand.

It was a new part for Daniel De Leon's Ford Explorer that led the Victoria welder to Mac Haik Ford Lincoln Hyundai. It was a nearby black Mustang, however, that had him sticking around a bit longer.

"I've been looking for another car - something I could go out of town with," he said after looking over the vehicle's specs. "It'd be good to have a backup car."

And when it comes to that potential purchase, it appears De Leon isn't alone. Sales are up in the Crossroads.

Year-to-date - January to June - new vehicle sales totaled 4,750 for Victoria, DeWitt, Goliad, Refugio, Jackson, Calhoun and Lavaca counties, according to Dominion Dealer Solutions' Cross-Sell Reports. That's up from the same time frame in 2012, when sales hit 4,530.

That growth isn't limited to the Crossroads, however. New vehicle sales are up across the state, said Bill Wolters, president of the Texas Automobile Dealers Association.

Last year brought 1.28 million sales - a 252,000-vehicle increase over 2011 - throughout Texas, he said.

"Just the 252,000-unit increase was more than the total sales of 33 states," Wolters said. "There were 33 states that did not sell as many new vehicles in 2012 as just our sales increase."

And sales in 2013 are doing well so far, he said, noting he expects a 120,000- to 130,000-unit sales increase over last year. In other words, the state will return to its pre-recession numbers.

In 2007, Texas sold 1.39 million new vehicles.

Wolters attributed much of that growth to ongoing oil and gas work but said other factors also join the mix. More than 400,000 new Texans move to the state annually, he said, while agriculture and defense have also brought economic boosts.

Having good auto dealers helps, he said, as does the fact that the industry's growth was gradual.

"We have a lot to be thankful for," Wolters said.

It's pickup trucks - mainly half-tons and super-duties - that are selling fastest off the lot at Cuero's Weber Motor Co., owner Cliff Weber said.

Although Weber didn't offer up numbers due to competition reasons, he said sales are up.

"We've been in business a long, long time. Seventy-six years," he said. "I've been doing it for 33 years, and it's the best that it's ever been."

Ongoing economic growth has benefited all businesses throughout the region, Weber said, and the Crossroads is in a prime location for future growth.

He said he's glad to see the boost.

"It's fun to see people in our community who've worked so hard benefiting from it," he said of the region's good fortune. "There are so many farmers and ranchers who have worked hard all their lives and have been blessed with this. It's good to see."

Victoria's Mac Haik has also experienced a slow increase, said Dan Wallace, the company's general manager. There, it's a mixture of both cars and trucks.

Wallace said that the business boost has the company hiring on new salespeople, technicians, body shop workers and more.

"We can use the extra people if there are people out there looking for a job," he said.

Bill Grafe, who owns Grafe Chevrolet GMC in Hallettsville, echoed the others' comments. The area has been blessed with Eagle Ford Shale, he said, and the economy has improved.

"I think we're on our way up to better times," he said.

And sales aren't the only area in which the industry has seen improvement. Grafe said newer vehicle makes and models - across all brands - boast improved safety features.

Of course, he stayed true to his brand.

"Chevrolet and GMC are better," he said with a chuckle.

When it comes to De Leon, he said the Mustang was tempting, but he still needed to mull over his options. After all, he said, a vehicle is a major purchase.

"I don't need it now. I can wait, maybe until next year," he said with a smile. "Maybe for my birthday."

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