ST. CLAIRSVILLE - With a larger and more visible location, Thomas Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram begins the final push to the holiday season in prime position to expand its business.
The family-owned dealership officially opened its doors at its new location inside the former Roomful Express Furniture at 67791 Mall Road on Thursday.
It marks the third time the Thomas dealership has moved locations from its original home on 301 S. Market St. in St. Clairsville, 95 years ago.
Robert Thomas, left, and his brother, Brian Thomas, both of Thomas Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram cut the ribbon during the grand opening of the car dealership’s new location near the Ohio Valley Mall and Interstate 70 on Thursday.
Each moved has been in upgrade in size and scope, a trend that speaks volumes about the longevity and success of the Thomas' family's business model.
"This building is more than 40,000 square feet. The old building was 23,000 and the first was probably around 10,000," said Robert Thomas, co-owner of Thomas Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram. "Brian (Thomas) and I won't be retiring anytime soon.
"We're really excited, but if it wasn't for our mom and dad and grandparents, we wouldn't have this opportunity."
That opportunity came about with the closure of Roomful Express and the Thomas family knowing a golden opportunity when they saw one.
St. Clairsville has been good to Thomas, a fact he pointed out. He and his family love the town and its residents.
But the opportunity to forge ahead with a larger scale operation with the visibility and potential customer base passing by on Interstate 70 was too good to pass up.
"We'd have 30,000 some odd cars pass by our dealership, but they were the same ones every day," Robert Thomas said of the former location in downtown St. Clairsville. "Now it will be different cards every day. There really aren't that many dealerships in town any more. They are by malls, by the interstate. This was a good opportunity to expand and further enhance the experience for our customers.
"About everything we did was customer related."
That mantra is evident with a quick look at the service garage.
The service portion of the facility features 12 large bays for customers to pull their vehicles into. There, they are met by the service manager, who escorts the customer/s into a lounge area with plenty of entertainment, for both young and old, while they wait.
Should the customers choose to wish to shop or dine, they can be shuttled by Thomas' employees across the roadway to the mall.
But the amenities aren't just for the customers.
There are male and female bathrooms, complete with showers, in the service department for the staff of seven technicians, two advisors and a service manager.
There are two lift bays per tech, doubling the available work space of the previous location.
"That's important to the techs because that is where they make their money," Thomas said. "They can work on two cars at once. If they are waiting on parts for one, they can work on the other and aren't sitting around with nothing to do.
"We have breakrooms for the techs and sales people, a fridge, microwave ... everyone got new furniture, new computers, new phones and we installed a really nice security system with 32 cameras. There's even an AED machine in case anyone needs one.
Thomas wished to thank Walters Construction and M&G Architects for their work in renovating and designing the facility, a process that took approximately 18 months from start to finish.
Thomas explained he chose Walters, aside from its reputation, because the sub-contractors it hired to assist on the job were all local workers.
"That's what I wanted, to keep local people working and they all did a fantastic job."