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Plant City Observer Thursday, Jul. 12, 2012 6 years ago

Ditch Witch, RaceTrac buy former dealerships


Ten acres of vacant property at South Collins Street and Park Road will soon see life again.

KDM Associates Inc. recently announced the sale of two properties that were former homes of local car dealerships to Ditch Witch and RaceTrac, according to B.M. “Mac” Smith Jr., KDM chairman.

“These are both great additions to our city, and I think they will be both accepted completely,” Smith said.

KDM sold the former Chrysler-Dodge dealership on the 6.5 acres at 502 East Park Road to Ditch Witch of Central and South Florida, a company that specializes in the leasing and sales of underground equipment, parts and services.

Renovations already have begun, and the company plans to begin conducting business at the new location by the end of August or early September. The new location also will add 10 to 15 jobs.

Dusty Cinnamon, the general manager and sales manager for Ditch Witch, has relocated from the company headquarters in Oklahoma to Lithia to lead the new location. A current Ditch Witch office in Leesburg will be moving all operations to the new Plant City location.

“We were looking for an easy location for our customers and after a lot of searching, we kept coming back to Plant City,” Cinnamon said. “It’s just a great location that’s right off Interstate 4 and not far from I-75. It’s a large facility that will allow for further expansion and growth in the future.”

The former Jeep dealership on the two acres of the northeast corner of South Collins Street and Park Road will be turned into a 20-pump RaceTrac service station. The station will join the existing Racetrac off Thonotosassa Road, giving the city one on the west and east end.

According to Smith, the company plans to demolish the existing structure in early August and have the new station running by the beginning of 2013, if not sooner.

The site is part of a 10-acre property that housed the company’s Dodge dealership and the former Plant It Earth Co. on South Collins Street.

Both deals were pursued by the buyers, with RaceTrac closing the deal over three months ago and Ditch Witch closing more recently — about six weeks ago — Smith, said.

Smith’s daughter, Marion Smith, president of the Plant City Chamber of Commerce, said the two companies should help boost the local economy.

“I think that the two businesses coming to town are great,” she said. “RaceTrac is a family-owned corporation, and they try to be active in the community and the chamber. Ditch Witch is a great addition to Plant City, also. They will serve central and north Florida areas. It is nice to see some real estate activity in the area.”

Plant City Manager Greg Horwedel said the sales are a sign of development recovery.

“The site has been vacant for about year, so I’m happy to see it put to productive use,” Horwedel said. “Any time with the economy the way it is, we are excited to see the possibility of new jobs being created and the revitalization of business in the area.”

B.M. Smith Motors, Inc. was founded in 1943 by B.M. Smith Sr. and was located at 1007 West Haines St. (now Martin Luther King Boulevard) until it relocated to its present spot in 1964. The company was family-operated for 58 years, beginning with American Motors products before adding Jeep and Chrysler products. In 2001, the company sold the franchises and began leasing the property.

Don Walden, a friend of the Smiths, handled the transactions.

Contact Matt Mauney at [email protected] ">

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