By C.V. Moore
OAK HILL —
After deliberation over whether to move to a bigger location on U.S. 19, King Coal Chevrolet is staying put.
The dealership, which has served Oak Hill and surrounding areas since 1938, will instead expand and upgrade at its current location on East Main Street, where it has done business since approximately 1975.
“This store has been here for a long time and people are used to what it offers — the great service. We just want to continue that great service,” says the facility’s co-manager, Rick Lewis.
“But we’re looking for bigger things to happen.”
A remarkable expansion of inventory over the past year prompted the discussion of moving the business to the four-lane.
Last July, the lot held about 50 vehicles, according to Lewis. Now, it’s grown to 450 new Chevrolets and 150 pre-owned vehicles of every make and model.
More traffic on the heavily-traveled U.S. 19 was another reason to consider a move.
“We thought the traffic on 19 would be beneficial to us, but this store has been here so long and we actually have additional property beside the store that we’ve renovated and cleared to make more room,” says Lewis.
The dealership is expanding into a 3-acre lot next door, which also includes a house.
Lewis says there are no plans to tear down the house. On the contrary — the owners will renovate it and move all the central offices there while the main building is being upgraded.
The main building will get a new showroom, exterior, parts department, and service department.
“It’s not going to look even close to what it does now,” says Lewis. “It’s getting a complete makeover.”
The substantial capital investment will be made over the course of this year. Lewis hopes it will all be complete by year’s end.
In July of 2012, Ernie and Lori Davis purchased the business from the Brown family. It is now part of a network of dealerships that they own, including Hometown Subaru, Hometown Kia, Hometown Hyundai, and Beckley Auto Mall.
They immediately began increasing inventory to attract shoppers from surrounding counties. Customers come from Wyoming, Nicholas, Webster, and Greenbrier counties, as well as Fayette and Raleigh.
“If you have it, they will come. And we have it,” says Lewis.
They’ve also expanded their financing options from five lenders to close to 20.
Sales have quadruped since August.
Lewis says the business is renowned for its service and parts department. The dealership has a number of service contracts with companies like Suddenlink, Frontier, and area coal companies.
King Coal Chevrolet has high hopes for its future in Oak Hill.
“I think with the Boy Scouts coming in, our county is going to be growing tremendously, and we’re right in the heart of it,” says Lewis.
“And when we get the facility redone and everything cranking, it’ll offer more jobs for our community as well.”
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