TRIADELPHIA - Thanks to their moves a few years ago to The Highlands area, two car dealerships' sales have grown "tremendously."
Bob Robinson, president of the Robinson Auto Group, which includes Bob Robinson Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac and Jim Robinson Ford Lincoln and Jim Robinson Toyota Scion, said he loves the location because it allowed him to create an auto mall-type atmosphere.
"It has given us a couple surprises. Our service business has grown tremendously and our new and used car business has grown beyond our expectations," Robinson said. "It's neat. Before we were scattered; now, we have nine brands on 15 acres."
He noted the former downtown Wheeling location did not offer enough space to allow people to pull their cars inside during inclement weather.
"It's easy to come in and get off the interstate and we're right there. The new facility is very inviting - you don't have be in the cold," Robinson said. "The reason we built the service center is so people could pull inside and get out of the weather. We were trying to reward the people who were loyal to us downtown. ... We do get positive feedback about the facilities."
Robinson credited Ohio County Commissioners Randy Wharton and Tim McCormick and then-commissioner David Sims for helping make the move easy.
"The county commissioners were so instrumental in getting me to make the decision to come here. They were outstanding to deal with ... and (Administrator) Greg Stewart in particular," Robinson said. "Government gets blasted so much in Ohio County. I have to commend the commissioners on what a smooth transition they made for us."
Bryan Fato, executive manager of Straub Honda Hyundai, said business at his dealership also has improved since relocating to The Highlands area.
"Initially we relocated from downtown Wheeling at the request of the manufacturers. They wanted new and modern facilities near highways," Fato said. "Our sales have grown tremendously. Since we've located near The Highlands we've gone from being a localized car dealership to a regional car dealership with customers from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio," Fato said.
Fato noted he has been pleasantly surprised with the number of Pennsylvania customers Straub's has attracted. In its former downtown location, Straub's received few Pennsylvania buyers.
"We have had a lot more curiosity business translate into sales. And with our service center, we can take people over to The Highlands and they can go shopping while getting their car serviced," he said.