McCarthy’s expansion

McCarthy Wholesale is expanding its operations, three years after owner Mike McCarthy downsized his used car lot and shut down his showroom.

“We weathered the biggest storm I’ve ever seen in my career,” McCarthy said. “Now we’re back, going strong and intend to be here as long as we can.”

The recession took its toll on McCarthy’s business in 2009 when he closed his 9,000-square-foot auto showroom, filled with automotive memorabilia. He moved his operation to the lot at 43 Higuera St., reduced the size of his inventory to 40 to 45 vehicles from 85 to 90 and staff to about five from 16 or 17 people.

Back then, it was tough for customers to get loans, McCarthy said. Now, “money is loosening up and every month is getting better and better,” he said.

The increased business has led to expansion, with McCarthy acquiring the property next door at

31 Higuera St., formerly occupied by Higuera Autobody, to house 45 more vehicles. Although the 6,000-square-foot showroom will not be as elaborately decorated as the previous one, it does have an automotive retro feel, McCarthy said, and will keep some of the specialty vehicles safe and secure. A grand opening will be held in late October.

“We’re moving our offices over there; getting all the infrastructure, computers together,” said McCarthy, who declined to say how much he has invested in the new space. “It needed a lot of cleanup.”

McCarthy’s staff is also growing; it now has close to 10 employees. He expects to hire two additional people in the first quarter of next year.

 “Used car sales have been really strong and with the banks coming back, these are great signs that are showing us that we’re doing the right thing.”