BY RICH JONES
ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR
A $2 million investment at the renovated Honda Morristown dealership owned by Phil Bachman was celebrated last Thursday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Newly-added space at the renovated Morristown dealership, located at 4190 W. Andrew Johnson Hwy., will allow a 33 percent additional allocation of vehicles from Honda, said General Manager Dominick Minotti.
Dirk Niemeyer, zone sales manager with American Honda, said the happiness on the faces gathered for the celebration represented what Honda means in the community, according to an article in the Morristown Citizen Tribune.
"What I have learned about Phil Bachman ... has thoroughly impressed me," Niemeyer told the Morristown newspaper.
"We're very proud .. of having [them] represent Honda," he added.
'HONDA IMAGE PROGRAM'
In addition to being the owner of Honda Morristown, Bachman has extensive automotive interests in Greeneville.
He is co-owner, along with Myron Bernard, of Bachman-Bernard Chevrolet-Buick-GMC-Cadillac, as well as Bachman-Bernard Chrysler Dodge Jeep Inc. and Bachman-Bernard Nissan.
The renovation at Honda Morristown is a part of the Honda Image program, a Honda-wide initiative to renovate buildings, keeping them uniform in design as well as improving the Honda experience.
According to information Honda provided on the program, and which was reported in the Citizen Tribune, "well designed and well planned dealership facilities provide benefits to everyone concerned; the dealer, the customer and Honda ...
"From the outside, the dealership has been designed to create a consistent, bold, and recognizable image for Honda Dealers across the country.
"On the inside, the design features a relaxed, unintimidating environment that fosters the creation of long-lasting relationships."
The renovation in Morristown included demolishing an old house on the property, gutting and completely remodeling the main building, and constructing a new administration building with a training center and conference room and five new express service bays, the Citizen Tribune reported.
'A GOOD MOVE FOR US'
In an interview with The Greeneville Sun on Tuesday, Bachman laughed when he was asked his thoughts on making the $2 million investment to dramatically renovate the dealership.
"It takes a leap of faith!" he said.
But, he continued, "We feel like Morristown has a good solid economic base, and we can expand upon it.
"We were so fortunate to be able to do it, and start all over with a new image and a new approach...
"We're going to build on [the Morristown economy] by reaching out to Knoxville, Rogersville, Newport and Greeneville, and pull our customers from a wider area. We have a bigger showroom; we have more cars.
"This seems to be a good move for us. Morristown is vibrant. We've got a good team behind us. I feel it's a step in the right direction.
"Honda is going strong and doesn't show any signs of slowing up. They're adding a larger allocation of cars for us.
"It was a very big investment for a small dealership. But we feel that over the next 10 years it will definitely pay off."
In the interview on Tuesday, Bachman recalled that the business from which the Honda dealership grew began in 1969 as Wheels, Inc., a Yamaha motorcycle shop located across from Greeneville High School at the property that had previously been Reynolds Ice Cream.
In 1973, when Bachman-Bernard Motors moved to its current location on Bachman Drive, adjacent to East Andrew Johnson Highway (the U.S. 11E Bypass), Wheels, Inc., moved to a building near the main dealership building, on the same property.
Three years later, in 1976, he said, Wheels, Inc., became a Honda automobile dealership and joined the other Bachman-Bernard automotive dealerships at the Bachman Drive location.
Since it was the only Honda dealership between Knoxville and Bristol, he said, it was both a sales location and a service location for Honda.
In 1986, he continued, he moved Wheels, Inc., the Honda dealership, to Morristown, and it began doing business as Honda Morristown.
-- Sun Editor John M. Jones Jr. contributed to this article.