Article tools: Share:

Driven to Success: Tilt-Up is A Growing Solution for Auto Dealerships

By: Wendy Ward, Constructive Communication, Inc.

According to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), there are 21,640 new car dealerships in the United States. While this is an impressive number, many owners are building new facilities to accommodate their growing fleet. In fact, the NADA notes that in 1985, only 3,850 dealerships existed that sold more than 750 new vehicles a year. Today, however, the number of dealerships selling more than 750 new vehicles has skyrocketed to 6,490. This phenomenal growth has led to the construction of larger dealerships with expansive showrooms. Site cast Tilt-Up construction is proving to be an optimal building solution in this market for a variety of reasons including load-bearing walls creating a column-free interior with unobstructed space for showcasing vehicles and the ability to enhance dealership imagery with expansive use of glass and the ability to cast the logo into the building.


Tilt-Up has been a proven solution in large scale buildings requiring structural walls and the efficiency of column-free perimeters for decades. While it may not seem to be an obvious connection at first, many of the elements that make Tilt-Up the optimal solution for projects like warehouses and distribution centers also make it a quality choice for auto dealerships. The structural efficiency of Tilt-Up allows for load-bearing walls that provide unobstructed space, free of perimeter columns. This is ideal for both showrooms and service centers to maximize the efficient use of the built space. Further, the solid, monolithic concrete walls provide excellent fire-resistant properties as well as superior noise attenuation. Both of the properties are important for dealerships that have both showrooms and service areas. Further, the versatility afforded by Tilt-Up allows auto dealerships to economically and efficiently combine open clear-spans and high ceiling bays for work areas.

Schedule is another of the main benefits that Tilt-Up offers to auto dealership owners. Failure to meet a proposed deadline is not an option because a delay in an opening may result in missing the opportunity to sell next year’s models or omission from a special manufacturer’s offer. One of Tilt-Up’s greatest attributes is speed of construction. Tilt-Up offers owners a fast track delivery while including a variety of architectural options with great aesthetic appeal.

Although auto dealership franchises are often forced to adhere to a corporate identity for the brand that they sell, their dealership needs to stand out from the competition, making architectural appeal critical. Tilt-Up allows owners to choose from a variety of architectural treatments including brick or block inlay, sandblasted aggregate, textured coatings and paint. Additionally, the architectural freedom afforded through Tilt-Up creates the ability to adapt to changing needs in terms of office layout, door locations and future expansion.

”What we see in the auto dealership market,” says Jim Baty, Technical Director for the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, “is the exploration of what has become the Architecture of Tilt-Up. It is not difficult to see how the structural and performance advantages of Tilt-Up offer numerous benefits to the owner of an auto dealership. However, what has become fascinating is the way architects working with owners

have embraced the ability of Tilt-Up to play a key role in the building’s aesthetics. Tilt-Up is sometimes used as the strong foundation for the more delicate and intricate expressions of metal and glass, while others use the method as a means to express imagery or their corporate identity. Auto dealerships have become a leading market for the architectural growth of Tilt-Up.”


Desiring a facility that offered a striking showroom with expansive use of glass, the owner of Champion Audi in Coral Springs, Fla. wanted to create an attractive auto dealership. The Tilt-Up spine of the showroom allows the facility to meet the wind loads, while providing the architectural look the owners desired.

Interior Tilt-Up panels separate the service area and the garden showroom, and a cantilevered mezzanine walkway interacts with the Tilt-Up panels. Constructed by Woodland Construction Company of Jupiter, Fla., the 50,311-square-foot facility Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) 2006 Achievement Award winner marries Tilt-Up and precast double-tees to create an extremely durable structure.

The garden showroom boasts extensive vegetation and plant life to create a unique atmosphere that is possible through the expansive use of glass. The white color scheme with gray accents complements the corporate image that Audi has set forth for its dealerships. Giant spandrel panels are located between the showroom and the roof to create visual appeal and the exposed barrel truss roof system adds another architectural element. A textured coating and intricately colored concrete on the floor area further add to the appeal of the dealership. The largest Audi dealership in the world, Champion Audi adds a high- end dealership to the area. This design would not have been possible without Tilt-Up because the use of the method as the spine of the building enabled the structure to meet stringent Florida building codes.


Once hand-cuffed by the stigmatism that Tilt-Up was only effective in warmer climates, the Canadian Tilt-Up market is also experiencing the benefits of Tilt-Up for auto dealerships. The 30,045-square-foot Portland Street Honda in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia features a façade with an extensive glass component for both aesthetic reasons as well as to display an attractive interior showroom. Tilt-Up was selected for this facility for its durability and low maintenance requirements. The contractor for the project, J.W. Lindsay Enterprises, Ltd. of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, was able to complete the project quickly and cost effectively while allowing for aesthetically pleasing reveals. Creating a facility that was devoted to pleasing the customer was the goal of the owner. As such, they wanted everything from a large, welcoming reception area to a cozy waiting room where customers could have Internet access, a play area for children and café services. Additional features include a drive- thru service area where customer could obtain an oil change and tire rotation, detail department, 10-car showroom and open space to create an inviting atmosphere. Overcoming significant weather obstacles, including springtime temperatures that prolonged initial site work and Hurricane Juan striking two weeks prior to opening, this project has become a flagship Tilt-Up facility for Atlantic Canada.


Tilt -Up success in this market is not limited to auto dealerships; it can also be found with motorcycle dealerships. The owner of Gail’s Harley-Davidson in Grandview, Mo. selected Tilt-Up for the construction of her new 48,000-square-foot dealership because of the general contractor’s ability to construct a quality architectural site cast concrete building and the value of a concrete facility. The design-build project, led by Meyer Brothers Building Company of Lee’s Summit, Mo. and CON/STEEL Tilt-Up Systems of Dayton, Ohio, features a sloped and cantilevered wall above the lower showroom structure. The speed of construction afforded through Tilt-Up allowed for all the interior work to begin sooner. Further, the solid concrete walls created excellent durability for the service and parts areas.

Harley-Davidson has one of the most recognizable brands in the world including their signature orange color. As such, the owner capitalized on this by using a cream colored paint with accents in the brand’s traditional orange color for the facility. The facility also features EIFS coating directly applied to the Tilt-Up walls, cultured stone and tile, as well as a sloped, cantilevered front wall above the roof of a lower showroom structure. The interior sales area for new bikes and apparel is finished with a cobblestone floor and false brick walls to emulate an old industrial building. Further, the building features a soundproof room to be used for the high- performance mechanic area. A truly successful project, the dealership has experienced two record setting months for sales volume since moving into the new facility.


A 2004 winner of a TCA Achievement Award, the Mercedes- Benz project in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. demonstrates the architectural appeal that Tilt-Up affords auto dealerships. Aware of the benefits of constructing using Tilt-Up, Mercedes- Benz also selected the method for a dealership in Pembroke Pines, Fla., a submittal in the 2005 Awards Competition. Constructed by Tilt-Con Corporation of Altamonte Springs, Fla., the Pembroke Pines facility is 52,000 square feet and includes a showroom, maintenance area, car wash facility, and service area. With speed a critical factor, the shell of the dealership was completed in a mere 12 weeks. Beyond speed, the owner also desired an aesthetically appealing structure. As such, a unique architectural design was created for the facility that includes a series of six spandrel panels that involved lifting flat panels on top of column. This design feature created a dramatic entryway for the dealership. Further, extensive use of glass as well as recesses and depressions in the panels added to the upscale design. Mercedes-Benz was so pleased with the facility that it has become a prototype for other dealerships.


As more innovative Tilt-Up professionals continue to pursue opportunities in this market, the industry will see a marked increase in Tilt-Up auto dealerships. The inherent benefits of Tilt-Up make it a clear choice for these facilities. The ingenuity of Tilt-Up professionals to continue to push the envelope by creating even more striking facilities will further add to the success of the medium in this market. The car sales business is poised to become even more competitive in the coming years and one way to separate yourself from the competition is with an eye-catching facility that reinforces your brand. Tilt-Up provides owners with this opportunity by allowing for expansive use of glass, diverse range of color choice and the ability to cast the logo into the panels.

Leave A Comment

Get Connected

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Connect with us on LinkedIn
Subscribe to us on YouTube


About us

TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.