Lithia Motors buys Klamath Falls dealership

Lithia Motors has acquired Klamath Falls' troubled Ford dealership that has been shuttered since last month.

"It was a deal that kind of came to us," said Bryan DeBoer, president of Lithia Motors. "It's in a market we already do business in. We felt we could service the customer base well, it's in close proximity to Medford and it makes good sense."

In an area where the seasonally adjusted jobless rate just jumped by nearly 1 percent to 12.4 percent in June, DeBoer said there was plenty of impetus to fire up an idle dealership.

"The last thing we need to see in Oregon is more unemployed people," DeBoer said. "Klamath Falls has been through trying times, like the rest of Southern Oregon. We have a great customer base there and there are a lot of Fords in operation. But people haven't been able to buy Fords or have them serviced."

He estimated Lithia will put 35 to 40 people back to work.

"I think we plan on opening the next couple of days," DeBoer said. "First of all, we have to contact the employees who were there, hiring them back, and then work to get in contact with the customers. The location is still the same."

The acquisition is among the smaller ones made by Lithia over the years and is the fourth this year, following three in the Portland and Wilsonville areas.

The Medford-based auto retailer ran an advertisement in Friday's Herald and News seeking sales employees.

Harvest Ford on Washburn Way, owned by Michael Wray, has closed twice in the past four months, most recently in June, the Herald and News has reported.

Lithia now operates 87 stores in 12 states, and its stock and its shares hit a 52-week high Monday, rising 45 cents to close at $22.17. The company is scheduled to report on its second-quarter earnings on Wednesday. Investor service The Motley Fool said analysts, on average, predict revenue of $635.5 million for the second quarter — up 19 percent from the second quarter of 2010 — and per-share earnings of 33 to 40 cents.

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