Antrim Way Honda to build new dealership building

March 11, 2005|y RICHARD F. BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Fifty years ago, Warren E. "Puff" Weaver opened a small used-car lot "with six cars and a building just big enough to write a deal in."

Today, Weaver, at 82, is the patriarch and CEO of Antrim Way Honda, a local automotive dealership that includes his son, Steve M. Weaver, 57, vice president; and grandson, Gregory E. Weaver, 37, vice president of operations.

Rounding out the venture is Isabelle Weaver, 13 months, Gregory's daughter. Her role in the business is posing on advertising billboards.


Later this spring, Antrim Way Honda at 224 S. Antrim Way will break ground for a $3 million modern dealership building behind the company's used-car lot, the same lot where Puff Weaver started the business.

He served as an Army tank driver in Europe in World War II. At war's end, he said, he returned to the area and took a job selling cars for Kohler Nash in Waynesboro and later for H.M. Hasse Ford, also in Waynesboro.

In 1955, he struck out on his own with a small used-car lot at 170 S. Antrim Way, the site of the dealership's current used-car lot. His partner at the time was Robert Mummert. "We did our own buying, mechanical work and cleaning up," Weaver said.

The business began to expand, first in 1958 with a showroom and single mechanics stall. It grew again in 1971 with a back shop.

Weaver became a Honda dealer in 1974 when the Japanese automaker offered two small models - a hatchback that sold for $1,599 new and a coupe that sold for $1,000 less, he said.

"That's how much taxes are (on some new cars) now," Gregory Weaver said.

A two-story building was added in 1976 and the dealership doubled in size with another addition in the mid-1980s. The whole shebang was remodeled in 1997.

Today the inventory includes about 90 used cars and 120 new models.

"We ran out of room," Gregory Weaver said in explaining why a new building is needed. The goal, besides space, is to "create a way to bring customers in even if they don't want to buy a car or have one repaired," Gregory Weaver said.

"It's going to have a festive, modern, park-type atmosphere," Gregory Weaver said.

Computers will be available to customers who want to go online while waiting for car repairs. A walking track will be available for customers to exercise. A cafe will be open and the front reception area will resemble a hotel lobby. The service department will have stations much like teller stations in a bank, Weaver said.

The expansion also will include a detailing center, car wash, express lube and a retail parts center. The company will rent cars as well as lease and sell them, he said.

Antrim Way Honda has 55 employees, mostly full time. Gregory Weaver said another 10 will be needed when the new building opens.

Construction will take nine months to a year to complete.

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