Rob Cochran

Even as a recession loomed and car sales began sagging, Rob Cochran was making plans to expand his multibrand #1 Cochran auto dealership.

And while low-cost financing deals for new cars at the end of 2001 could create a soft market for all dealers in the short term, Cochran plans to build new dealership and service facilities. The megabrand dealer, which operates a second dealership in Robinson Township, is building on one side of Route 22 in Monroeville to house Pontiac, Cadillac and Saturn brands, and planning a second facility on the other side of the highway for a Hyundai facility.

The number of makes auto dealerships offer and the number of cars they sell has grown. While there were 51,000 new car dealerships in the United States selling a total of 6.5 million cars in 1959, the number of retailers dropped to half that by 1996, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Cochran says one reason for his company’s relocation is the demand by manufacturers to have their brands represented in a dedicated facility. Another is to secure more frontage on the highway than the present location, a former Kaufmann’s department store, provides.

The dealership’s move will give a boost to Monroeville’s bustling business corridor and a tax boost to a municipality that relies heavily on commercial property for tax revenue. Plans are in the works for the Lowe’s home improvement chain to build a 122,000-square-foot store at #1 Cochran’s current location beginning in 2003.

Ray Marano