Auto dealers rebound to grow, expand throughout WV - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Auto dealers rebound to grow, expand throughout WV

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For the surest sign that the automotive industry in West Virginia is picking up, just look around – several dealers are adding on or moving to bigger spaces.

Ruth Lemmon, president of the West Virginia Automobile Dealers Association, said dealers have invested thousands of dollars into upgrading their facilities in the past two years.

"2012 was a very good year," Lemmon said. "We didn't have a big boom, but we are making a steady return from 2008."

And the results are scattered throughout the Mountain State.

At Harry Green Nissan, the dealership enlarged its footprint in Clarksburg with a new building and renovations that enhanced the customer experience.

Harry Green, which has been in business for 25 years, now features a customer lounge with flat-screen televisions and a children's play area as well as a more spacious showroom and even more service bays"for cars that need service work.

Lemmon said the most common upgrades for dealers throughout the state have bee along those lines – making showrooms cleaner and more family friendly.

At Superior Toyota Hyundai in Parkersburg, General Manager and co-owner T.R. Hathaway said they simply outgrew their old facility.

"It was time to invest in a new facility," he said. "And particularly in our service department and parts, we have over twice the service area than we had in our previous building."

Hathaway Superior is West Virginia's oldest Toyota dealer, having sold the brand since 1979, and Toyota cars and trucks have physically gotten bigger since then, requiring more showroom space to display them.

Hathaway said Superior owned its surrounding property, so it was able to build a new facility right next to the old one, which presented a little bit of a logistics challenge during construction, but now that the former facility is demolished, they have extra parking and a bigger, more appealing facility.

"Our customers and employees are very complimentary," he said. "They're loving our new facility."

Superior celebrated its grand re-opening in November.

Lemmon said the biggest threat to West Virginia's auto dealers right now is in Washington, D.C.

She said the coal issue spins out to other people and industries, such as the truck dealer who isn't selling as many because that town's miners have been laid off.

But, Lemmon said the boom in Marcellus Shale gas activity throughout the state has brought in new business. She said there have been 140 new franchise dealers open their doors within the state.