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Posted on Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Gene Butman Ford invests in used car lot as new car sales decline

By Tom Perkins


The future used car lot at Gene Butman Ford.

Tom Perkins | For

As new car sales dip, Gene Butman Ford is breaking ground on a new lot and building to help expand its used car sales.

When the lot is complete in May, Ken Butman expects the Ypsilanti Township dealership, 2105 Washtenaw Ave., will double its used car sales.

“The used car business is becoming more and more important to any car dealership for its success,” he said.

Butman attributed a decline in new car sales and a rise in used car sales to several issues. First, the base of Ford employees once employed in Ypsilanti Township’s manufacturing centers are not as numerous as they once were.

New cars also are being built better, so they are more expensive, but they are also lasting longer, Butman said.

That has led to more demand and used car sales doubling over the past two years. Where Butman Ford was once moving around seven used cars a month in 2010, they now hand over the keys to around 30 cars a month.

When the new 2.5-acre lot opens, Butman said he expects those numbers will likely spike to between 70 and 100 cars a month.

“There’s a real strong market in this area - and all over - for good, quality used cars,” he said.

Butman also commended his son, Nick Butman, who recently graduated from Northwood University with a degree in automotive marketing and has overseen the used car department as it expanded.

The more than $1 million investment will yield a building very similar in architecture and design to the main sales building, though it will be slightly smaller. It will take the place of a truck sales lot that has sat vacant for several years.

“It is going to be very exciting,” Butman said. “We have two full city blocks of frontage, and this is going to make quite a presence. The used cars are going to pop out. It’s going to look really nice.”

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for



Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 5:31 a.m.

I was there this last fall and asked a sales person to put some numbers together to purchase a new Explorer, they accidentally ran the numbers on a Flex; honest mistake. I pointed out that they ran the numbers on the wrong vehicle. It was an honest mistake and I was fine with it. I then asked if they could give me the numbers on the vehicle I originally asked about, and to my amazement, they wouldn't. The salesperson just said the numbers will be in the same ballpark. I have bought a lot new cars in my life and never ran into a dealer that refused to price a car for me. I ended up going to a different dealership to buy my new car. A lot of people seem to really like Butman Ford, so maybe mine was an isolated incident.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:25 a.m.

I've bought four new Ford vehicles, from three different Washtenaw Co. Ford dealers over the last 12 years. If I could find a dealer that I didn't think was trying to rip me off, then I'd go back regularly.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:49 a.m.

The car dealerships are always on the take. They all are looking for a fast buck because they mostly rely on commission. Sad fact.

Ann English

Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

Where is this building? I'm assuming that it's going to be within the same Hewitt-Washtenaw-Rosedale block as the rest of the business. Their service must be awfully good, IMPARTIAL to whatever makes/models of cars are brought to them for repairs. Someone recommended I bring my GM car there for some bodywork repairs, and I did. Good and timely repairs were done.


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

We bought from Butman Ford in 2009. Every experience we've had with them has been good, both on the Sales and Service side. I highly recommend them.


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

It has nothing to do with Suzuki going out of business???


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

We buy used all the time. Most times you can find a car that is gently used like clothes and still have a lot of wear in them. Used car person here and getting another this summer. New cars are out of our budget.


Tue, Feb 5, 2013 : 2:47 a.m.

There are used car dealers that are pretty reputable in Ypsilanti. But I still do my homework and demand Car Fax.


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

Agree 100% and, even if they're not out of our budget, we prefer to let someone else drive the markup and depreciation off the lot - as long as it's from a reputable dealer and a reliable make and model.


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

Ken Butman and his family have very generously supported the entire Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area for years. I've always had good experiences with Butman Ford (both sales and service), and if I hadn't just bought a new car from Butman Ford in 2011, I'd buy one from them now. Of the four Ford dealerships around town (Varsity, Palmer, Briarwood, Butman) I've patronized over the last 20+ years, Butman is the only one I recommend.


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 5:23 p.m.

Yes, every single kid who walks in there selling Girl Scout cookies, fundraising candy bars, etc. goes away with a sale. :)


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

Why build a new building? Just reduce the number of new cars if they aren't selling. Though I must admit they do have a great service department. I guess all those years of ripping people off with new car sales, they will now begin "new" with used cars.


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

The franchise (Ford, in this case) likely requires certain square footage, a certain building style, and a certain amount of new car sales for Butman to keep the franchise. And why do you automatically believe they are "ripping people off?" Why can't they simply be a business that is realizing where their profitability lies?


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

New car sales are up double digit percentages year over year for the last several years, so this "decline" must be an Ypsi phenomenon.


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

Not to Ypsi-bash, but my thoughts exactly. Used car sales do better in economically challenged areas. Look at all of the new car dealerships in Jackson. They all have the new car signage but make most of their money on used sales.

Bob W

Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

Does seem to be at odds with industry numbers. You wonder why the author didn't question this?


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

I really like the service I have received at Gene Butman Ford. I had some bad experiences at other dealerships so I appreciate these men/women at Butman. Their service department is awesome.

Blue Marker

Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 5:01 p.m.

I live around the corner from Varsity but I prefer Butman. Ken is a nice guy who seems to really care about your purchase experience.


Mon, Feb 4, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

I agree. I have always received great service at Gene Butman. Everyone there is friendly and helpful.