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Marino Eccher and Dave Olson, Published September 30 2010

Lunde buys Moorhead’s Muscatell Kia

Lunde Auto Center will add another dealership to its lineup after purchasing Muscatell Kia in Moorhead, the company said today.

Andy Boen, who owns Lunde, said he started considering the purchase three months ago. He was looking for a brand to replace his Saturn dealership at 3901 2nd Ave. S. in Fargo after the Saturn brand shut down.

“I needed a volume franchise, and Kia fit the bill,” he said.

The sale was completed Wednesday morning, Boen said. Shortly thereafter, his sales staff teamed up to drive Muscatell’s Kia fleet of about 80 vehicles across the river from Muscatell’s Moorhead dealership. The new dealership is called Kia of Fargo.

Ward Muscatell, owner of Muscatell Subaru in Moorhead and a handful of other car dealerships in North Dakota and Minnesota, said he made the sale because he plans to focus on expanding his other dealerships.

“I thought it was time to go down the road and make a little change,” he said. Muscatell will continue to operate his other dealerships.

He said it didn’t hurt that Boen, whom he described as a friend, made “a very fair offer” for the Kia dealership. Both Muscatell and Boen declined to disclose the sale price.

Some of Muscatell’s former employees from the Kia dealership will follow Boen to the new location, including Dan Anderson, who managed Muscatell Kia.

“It’ll be seamless for their customers,” Boen said.

Boen’s Lunde dealerships also sell Lincoln, Mercury, Jeep and Mazda brands. The Mercury brand is being retired, but Boen said an expanded Lincoln line will keep that dealership afloat.

Moorhead city officials expressed dismay over the Kia dealership’s departure.

“I feel bad that Lunde doesn’t feel they can keep the dealership in Moorhead,” said Moorhead Mayor Mark Voxland.

Voxland said he already hears comments from Moorhead residents on how inconvenient it is to drive to dealerships in Fargo for things like car repairs.

“I think it would be smart for car dealerships to be looking at a satellite lot and repair operation on this side of the river, since we do have 37,000 people over here,” Voxland said.

City Council Member Mark Hintermeyer said he, too, is disappointed to hear that Lunde is moving the Kia dealership from Moorhead to Fargo.

He wondered whether the decision had more to do with changes in the automobile market nationally than the business climates on either side of the Red River.

Hintermeyer said Moorhead is doing many things to boost enterprise in the city, including rebuilding and making improvements to First Avenue North that include the clearing of more than five acres of land for fresh commercial development.

“Anytime we see a business leave the community, we consider it unfortunate,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Marino Eccher at (701) 241-5502