It's not a great time to be a Toyota dealer. But as their counterparts cope with Toyota's massive gas-pedal recall, two entrepreneurs are entering the business -- and opening shop in Oakland.
Brian McCafferty and Brad Barnett, business partners who run a dealership in Arizona, took over the location of a failed dealership near the Oakland airport on Hegenberger Road. They opened One Toyota of Oakland today, hiring 110 workers with plans to hire another 100.
It's a proud moment for Barnett and McCafferty, but hardly an auspicious time to start selling Toyota. Just ask Vinnie Casucci, who's about to be one of the busiest guys in the Bay Area.
Vinnie is running the service department at Stevens Creek Toyota. He's in charge of the recall effort to make sure the legions of Bay Area Toyota owners can drive away from his dealership, secure in the knowledge that their gas pedals won't go rogue on them. But first, they have to bring him their cars.
Stevens Creek Toyota, along with dealerships across the country, want you to know they're serious about checking and fixing your car. They're not planning to bring outside mechanics to handle the rush. They're asking customers to be patient, because it could take awhile.
One thing that could save time: Casucci has way for you to check and see if you even have to bring your car in. Does your gas pedal have a metal plate on the end? If so, bring it in. That's the kind of pedal that's being recalled.
If, however, your gas pedal has bumps on the end, you're OK. Those pedals are fine. Watch this video to see how to check for yourself:
Casucci and his staff have their work cut out for them. Best bet, he said, is to make an appointment first. The car dealership is offering to shuttle you to work or to the mall, while you wait. But if you make an appointment, you'll probably wait less.
Meanwhile, Barnett, the co-owner of One Toyota, is just looking forward to getting to know his new hometown.
"You hear bad stuff about Oakland, but I haven't seen any of it," said Barnett. "I'm proud to be here. I've ridden BART, explored the city, and from what I've seen I'm proud to make this my home."