Justin Teubner, until last week the general sales manager at Lum’s Auto Center in Warrenton, Ore., has moved to town with the purchase, in partnership with the Lum family, of what was McCurley Integrity Toyota of Walla Walla since February 2014.
Before McCurley, the lot had been Abajian Toyota-Scion since 1991.
The sale became official May 14, with the dealership renamed Walla Walla Toyota, and the business celebrated its first sale four days later with a post on Facebook.
“My parents started in the car business over 50 years ago on the Oregon coast,” Lori Lum said. “Since then, we’ve expanded to other franchises and a different town in McMinnville, Ore., so we’re at the coast in Warrenton, Ore., we’ve got McMinnville. Ore., and now we’re so lucky to come to Walla Walla, Wash.”
The dealership went up for sale “just a few months ago,” Lum said, and her family “is kind of always looking to see what opportunities are available.”
They saw Walla Walla as an ideal location.
“Our area in the very, very northwest tip of Oregon, (Clatsop) county is small,” Teubner said. “It’s almost identical to Walla Walla County. We knew we wanted to find an opportunity, but we were very selective. We wanted an area identical to ours, that had the same small-town beliefs and environment. And we wanted a Toyota dealership.
“The fact that this was available was pretty much a dream situation for us.”
Teubner will oversee daily operations at Walla Walla Toyota.
Thirty or so employees have chosen to remain with the dealership, Teubner said, leaving about 10 job openings he hopes to fill soon. Some of the positions include office manager, sales associate and lube technician.
In addition to the job opportunities, Teubner has already started building a strong foundation here.
The first step, he said, was renaming the place Walla Walla Toyota.
“We want to connect with the city, have the same experiences we had on the coast,” Teubner said.
“We know it starts with trust. It started with a genuine desire to connect with the community. Everything else will kind of fall into place after that.”