|First responders finding a one-stop shop at John Jones Salem Dealership|
People driving through Salem past the old John Jones Dealership instinctively press their brake to slow down due to the police car they see in the lot.
At closer look, however, it’s not just one police car, but an entire lot full of them. There are sometimes up to 100 depending on inventory according to John Jones.
He said the number fluctuates depending on the number of cars that are being sold in a given week.
The old dealership located at the corner of Highway 60 and State Road 160 in Salem, has become an up-fitting facility.
Jones said some of the things done at the Salem lot are installing emergency lights, radar, K-9 unit capabilities and radios, to name a few. They also do the striping.
“Whatever they need, we can do it,” he said. “What police departments like about what we are doing is they can buy the car and we do all the up-fitting here. There is no buying the car and sending it somewhere else to have it up-fitted. We can do it all right here.
“The local departments like to stop in and see the progress taking place all at one location.”
Jones said depending on the up-fitting package, they can have a car done in two to three weeks.
“Before, it could take up to six months to get the cars on the road, again, that’s depending on the up-fitting package,” he said. “Six months would be an extreme case through those other places, but it’s not unheard of.”
Jones said they’ve had so much success with the police vehicles, they are now focusing more on fire department vehicles.
An emergency vehicle lot was not the original plan.
He said once the new dealership in Salem opened a few miles down the road, he tried to lease the old lot.
“I had no plan for it,” he said. “We were building the new Chrysler dealership in Corydon and ran out of room, so this all fell together. I am able to watch it a little closer up here than I would have been able to if it was in Corydon.”
Jones said he and several others take care of the law enforcement lot, including three sales people.
The sales people are not selling outside of the state, but Jones said a department from Florida came in to pick up cars.
“We got them ready and the turnaround time is so much less,” he said. “The City of Salem bought two vehicles last week and they are ready to go.”
Jones’ reserve training is through the Washington County Sheriff’s Department. He said his desire to be a reserve officer most likely stems from his father being a deputy sheriff.
While he became a reserve officer long before he started selling emergency vehicles, he does admit the knowledge he gained over the years lends itself to up-fitting police cars.
There is a website called policepursuitvehicles.com.
If agencies google purchasing police cars, Jones said they will see the site.
“At this point that’s how people from out of state hear about us,” he said.
Jones said a sheriff from West Virginia was looking around, saw the demos they built online and flew in to purchase one.
“It’s not uncommon for someone to fly in and purchase a police car,” he said.
In addition to being a one-stop shop, an advantage for law enforcement agencies is the pricing options offered by Jones.
He said they have a lease plan. For example if a town budgeted $10,000 a year for police car upkeep or replacement. His dealership will take that payment over however long it takes to cover the cost of the vehicle.
“They wouldn’t be able to buy a police car for $10,000, but they can get a $30,000 police car, pay for it over three years and get the car right away.”
Those visitors also mean new money coming into the local economy.
“It’s always good to have guests coming in,” Jones said. “They eat at our restaurants and buy gas here. I think this is a win-win for everybody.”
Jones said he only knows of one other dealership similar to what his dealership is doing with both stocking and up-fitting first responder vehicles.
“There are lots that sell police cars, but they don’t do up-fitting,” he said.
The hottest seller at the moment is the Dodge Ram truck.
“It’s one of the best kept secrets in law enforcement out there,” Jones said. “We’ve probably sold 100 of those in the last two years. It is safe, has plenty of room and really gets around well in the weather.”
Paoli recently bought two of the Dodge Rams trucks. Other departments who purchase cars from the Salem dealership are Clarksville, Clark County, New Albany, Washington County, Jeffersonville, Charlestown, Floyd County and Orange County.
Jones said in addition to inventory and up-fitting, he personally inspects every vehicle before it leaves the lot.
As for how much growth will happen with this business, only time will tell.
“I am not looking for a lot of growth necessarily, but it will probably happen,” he said. “We dialed the old dealership down to only one phone. Now, we are in the process of dialing it back up, putting high speed internet and phones back in the building.”