By Steve Raymond
News Report Staff
Dan Hecht Chevrolet-Toyota will be celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2018.
And they will be doing it in style — inside a newly-remodeled and expanded dealership.
“There was a lot of upgrading we wanted to do,” said Jim Hecht, one of the four Hecht brothers that share ownership of the dealership.
“We had outgrown our showroom, plus our service and parts departments,” Bob Hecht noted.
“And when the factories announced new car owners would receive their first two oil changes free, that totally inundated our quick lube area,” Dan Hecht Jr. added. “After all that, we just decided it was time to add on.”
The thought process actually started about three years ago.
“The manufacturers (from Chevrolet and Toyota) had been talking to us and encouraging us to do this for quite awhile,” Jim explained. “Our goal was to keep our overhead down and still offer a state-of-the-art facility and please the manufacturers.”
The Hecht brothers had two choices – build a new separate dealership or expand their current facility. They decided on expansion.
Their first phase was meeting with architects. They selected Custom Facilities, out of Indianapolis. They are a specialized automotive architectural firm.
Once the architect was selected, the final plans were discussed, the design was finalized and the project was underway earlier this year in May. More than 20 local sub-contractors were used to build and complete the new facility.
There was some inconvenience, both for the customers and employees.
“We had to walk our customers back and forth to trailers that we brought in,” Dan said. “Some employees had to share offices and our restroom was even in a trailer.”
“But when we talked to our customers, they understood,” Jim added. “They were great about it.”
All total, 13,000 square feet has been added to the dealership – 8,000 in the showroom and another 5,000 square feet to the body shop.
There is a large customer waiting area, complete with a kids play area. There will also be a mural that features some of Effingham’s landmarks.
And the larger showroom will also provide a new customer experience.
“More and more customers are wanting an open experience,” Dan Jr. explained. “They would rather visit and negotiate right in the showroom rather than in a private office. Now they can do that.”
The project will also result in additional space for the accounting office; a new training room; a larger parts department; two additional oil and lube bays; four new bays in the detail area; and two new paint booths in the body shop.
“The goal is to provide total customer convenience,” Bob noted.
Dan Hecht Sr. opened the dealership in 1958 on Merchant Street, site of the Martin’s IGA parking lot today. It moved to its current location along South Route 45 in 1976. This project is the fourth expansion since that move, but by far the largest.
“No doubt this is looking great,” Jim said. “I think we utilized the space we had available very well.”
There is still a little work to be completed, but the bulk of the project is done and the dealership is pretty much in full use.
A ribbon cutting ceremony will be scheduled at a later date and a Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours is already set for April 5.
“We’re very pleased with how everything turned out,” Dan Jr. admitted. “This is going to be a benefit for both our customers and our employees.”