Thomas Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram officially opened its new location Thursday near the Ohio Valley Mall and Interstate70, and St. Clairsville officials are confident another business - or businesses - could move into the dealership's former downtown building.
Thomas Chrysler is now located at 67791 Mall Road, and co-owner Robert Thomas said the process of turning the former Roomful Express Furniture building into a place to service and sell cars took about 18 months. Thomas said it is actually the third location for the dealership, which has been in business 95 years. It originally opened at 301 S. Market St. in downtown St. Clairsville, which is now home to Jeff's Auto Body.
Most recently, Thomas Chrysler was located at 252 E. Main St. along National Road leading into downtown St. Clairsville.
Photo by Joselyn King
Brian Thomas, left, of Thomas Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram shows St. Clairsville Mayor Robert Vincenzo a truck during the grand opening of the car dealership’s new location near the Ohio Valley Mall and Interstate 70 on Thursday.
"A lot of people thought we moved out of the city (to the newest location) to avoid the city income tax - but no way," Thomas said. "We always support the city of St. Clairsville."
He said about 30,000 cars each day passed Thomas Chrysler at its building on National Road.
"But they were the same cars," Thomas noted. "We'll probably still see 30,000 cars, but they'll be different ones."
In total, Thomas Chrysler employs about 30 people, according to Thomas. He expects as many as five additional employees could be hired for the new facility.
The emphasis at the new location is on customer service, he continued. There are 12 lifts available for auto service and seven technicians, he said. This means technicians often will be able to work on two vehicles at a time.
A shower has been installed for the technicians' use, so they can clean up before heading home if needed, Thomas added.
Thomas also serves as a firefighter and paramedic. He noted a defibrillator is on hand at the auto dealership, and that employees are trained to perform CPR.
About 200 vehicles were moved over the past week from the National Road building to the new Thomas site, and Thomas said about 80 more are on order. The new building has 47,000 square feet of indoor space, while the National Road location had about 23,000 square feet, he said.
Members of the St. Clairsville Area Chamber of Commerce attending the grand opening expressed optimism that the ample space and parking at the National Road building could make it an attractive location for a business wanting to locate in St. Clairsville. And St. Clairsville Mayor Robert Vincenzo was among them.
The Thomases "deserve this," he said. "Things will come there" to their former National Road location.
"They are a great family, and I'm excited they've come this far," he added.
Thomas Chrysler co-owner Brian Thomas confirmed others have expressed interest in the dealership's former location.
"But we still have stuff in there," he said. "We will have an auction when we're through."