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A $4 million renovation project completely gutted and modernized Currie Motors Ford of Valparaiso, transforming the decades-old dealership into "the newest and most state-of-the-art Ford facility in Northwest Indiana."

A grand opening is planned from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at 2052 W. Morthland Drive. 

Currie Motors Auto Group, which owns five franchises, plans to showcase an expanded inventory of 800 new and pre-owned vehicles, a modern service lounge, and a contemporary showroom with modern energy-efficient LED lighting designed to cut energy use. More than 120 people work at the dealership, which also expanded its service department so it can work on large commercial trucks.

General Manager Leo Sfikas said Currie Motors bought the dealership that dates back to at least the 1970s four years ago and took it from 112th in sales in the region to 11th among Ford-branded dealers. It quadrupled the inventory of vehicles and broke ground on the massive renovation project about a year ago, he said.

"We're completely redone everything front and back," he said. 

The dealership also added Northwest Indiana's first Ford-authorized commercial truck center to do maintenance and repairs on commercial vehicles like the F-650/F-750 medium duty work trucks, box trucks or NIPSCO boom trucks. It added two 40,000-lb. lifts and two 30,000-lb. lifts to allow mechanics there to work on big commercial vehicles.

"Most dealerships are not prepared to or have the facilities to work on commercial trucks," he said. "It's been handled by independents for years. There aren't many options, so we imagine this will be a big pull from a 100-mile radius. We feel there will continue to be more growth in this market."

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Currie Motors Ford is now hiring more technicians for its truck center, and is especially looking for mechanics with experience with diesel engines. Sfikas said it already started drawing business from passing highway traffic the first day it opened last week.

"The trades and construction continue to do well, and they'll need to buy more vehicles," he said. "Landscapers, plumbers, concrete guys, all types of tradesmen, are thriving in the Valparaiso construction industry and buying commercial trucks."

The dealership has added 25 to 30 more jobs as a result of the investments, including more technicians, sales staff, valets, internet department customer service representatives and service writers. The dealership was in need of an overhaul and appears to have never previously undergone a major renovation, Sfikas said.

"We bought a dated facility," he said. "For decades nothing was done to enhance the facility. We're committed to doing these enhancements. It's needed because Valparaiso is a very vibrant downtown with an amazing downtown and vibrant parks. We want something nice for the type of client that's here."

The opening reception will include pastries, beverages and entertainment.

"We're super excited to show it off," he said. "It's state-of-the-art, very contemporary, very chic and very cosmopolitan for Indiana."

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.