Robinson Auto Group Offers Winning Combinations
By LINDA COMINS
Great people, great products and great service make a winning combination for the Robinson Auto Group, located at The Highlands in Triadelphia.
The Robinson Auto Group scored big this year with readers of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, capturing first-place honors for auto dealers, used cars and auto repair and winning second place for auto detailing and accessories in the newspapers’ annual Reader’s Choice awards.
The family-owned business, a longtime member of the Ohio Valley community, consists of three dealerships, all situated on a spacious campus at The Highlands, just off Interstate 70. Auto detailing is performed at The Highlands site, while the firm’s auto body shop remains in Center Wheeling.
The group sells seven brands of new vehicles — Ford, Lincoln, Toyota, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC — plus a wide range of used cars.
Jim Robinson is the dealer at Jim Robinson Ford-Lincoln and Jim Robinson Toyota. His sister, Roberta Olejasz, is the dealer at Bob Robinson Chevrolet-Cadillac-Buick-GMC. Their father, Bob Robinson, is president of the Robinson Auto Group. They are humbled to receive the Readers’ Choice again this year. Jim Robinson remarked,
“You come to work every day and try to do the right thing. You end up being in a great place, dealing with great people and working with great people. … It’s always humbling.”
The Robinson Auto Group has approximately 115-120 employees. Asked the key to the auto group’s success, Jim Robinson said, “We empower our employees to make decisions in helping our customers.”
In addition to selling new cars and trucks, he said, “We also certify a lot of used cars through the manufacturer.”
Providing many options in vehicle selection is beneficial for customers. “It gives a lot of variety,” Robinson said. “We work with great companies and that certainly helps.”
Through the group’s service lines, he said, “We have the value in the smaller car. When thinking of Lincoln and Cadillac, you have the best in the top-of-the-line vehicles. We have the best trucks in the world also with Toyota, Chevy, GMC and Ford.”
The GMC dealership opened at The Highlands in December 2008. Previously, it was located on 16th Street in downtown Wheeling.
The Toyota and Ford dealerships moved to the new location at The Highlands in June 2009. Previously, both dealerships were located on Bethany Pike in Wheeling’s Woodsdale section.
Regarding the big move, Jim Robinson said they didn’t know initially what the Cabela’s retail store would mean for the hilltop area. “Once we knew, this would be the place to come to,” he said. “We didn’t know how big Cabela’s was going to be. It’s now the Main Street of the Ohio Valley.”
The hilltop site’s visibility from Interstate 70 has proven beneficial for the auto dealers. Robinson said, “Hundreds of thousands of people drive by here on a daily basis.”
While the dealerships have always attracted many customers from West Virginia and Ohio, the new location near the Pennsylvania state line has added to the consumer base. “We’re drawing more customers from Pennsylvania,” Robinson said. “It’s surprising the number of people across the border who shop at Wal-Mart, Target and other stores at The Highlands. The exposure up here has been phenomenal.”
Selling vehicles in the Ohio Valley is a tradition for the Robinson family. “My grandfather started in Harrisville, W.Va. He moved to Wheeling in 1964,” Jim Robinson said. “The Ohio Valley has been our home for over 50 years. We love the valley. This is where my sister and I grew up and where we’re raising our kids.”
Regarding changes in the industry, he said, “Every day is different in the car business. That’s what makes it exciting to come to work every day. It’s always evolving.”
Technological innovations also have a big impact on auto repairs. Robinson said, “You really have to invest in training your people now. A mechanic is working a lot with computers. It’s not just turning wrenches like in the old days. It’s a high-demand skill that they need. We have the best in the business,” he added.