It’s not every day you’re able to be part of a special occasion… that’s why they’re special occasions! At Lakeland Automall, this was truly a special occasion. For those of you who are familiar with Lakeland Automall, you know it’s been a long time coming and a long time under construction. Back in 2012, Lakeland Automall president and owner Greg Balasco made a decision; that decision was to stay in Lakeland and rebuild one of the most iconic brands in the same spot it had been for over 30 years. Everyone in the area knew where Lakeland Automall was located and in the “car strip” sense… it was an ideal location. The choice could have easily been to move closer to I-4 and the super highway that links Tampa to Orlando – or it could have just as easily to move out of the area completely, but Mr. Balasco had a vision… a vision to rejuvenate the community and invest millions into the demolition and re-building of the new Lakeland Automall.
Working with city officials, zoning boards, community development, architects, contractors and others, plans were developed for the complete 16 acre rejuvenation. After nearly a year of planning and permitting, the original complex was leveled as salespeople and customers worked out of trailers to keep the business open and serving the community. With a few setbacks and many revisions the work of over 2 years finally came to an end in June of 2015.
Greg Balasco also knew that it was going to take more than some new building to help change the history of Lakeland Automall and bring the automotive buying experience into the future. Modern technologies had to be implemented and integrated into every aspect of the Automall campus. State-of-the-art concepts, modern and updated conveniences and a place where customers actually enjoyed coming to buy and service was essential. Not only the facilities but everything from sales staff, lot porters, administration and management needed a face-lift and renovation. The new Lakeland Automall had to be a place that shoppers from all over the area would want to visit and come back.
The Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting is definitely one of those special events. Not only the fact that a project was completed, but that months of ups and downs and sleepless nights can finally be put to rest. then its time to invite all of your friends, family, business associates, company executives, city leaders and everyone who was part of the project to commemorate that a job has been done and done well.
Over 100 invited guests converged on Lakeland Automall on Tuesday September 1, 2015. The actual ribbon cutting was supposed to take place at 4:30 PM with Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs as honored guest, but being Florida, you can’t always count on outdoor events – especially during the summer months. You guessed it! Just as guests started to arrive the skies darkened and it seemed like for 30 minutes the remnants of tropical storm Erica all converged on the Lakeland Automall. Guests were escorted under umbrellas to Lakeland Hyundai as plans were made to move the official ribbon cutting inside.
Just when nearly all of the guests had arrived and stress levels because of changed plans began to rise, the clouds began to clear slightly and the rain slowly stopped. It seemed that just in time, there was an opportunity to have the ribbon cutting as planned – maybe just with a little more water if the crowds could make it outside before another round of storms came through.
“We’re going to move this outside” Greg Balasco told the crowd as he escorted his wife Meredith and the Mayor to the gates between the Lakeland Ford and the Lakeland Hyundai Buildings. Slowly the crowds following into the humid 90 degree heat. It didn’t take long to stretch the ribbon across the driveway and for the guest and now staff of Lakeland Automall to com outside and hear form Mr. Balasco, and the Mayor. What was next was probably what was expected…. it was videotaped! Thanks to one of our vendors who recorded the whole thing!
Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible. We truly appreciate your business and your ongoing support. Without all of you as customers and supporters, this never could have happened. If we can do anything, don’t hesitate to ask… we’re here to help!