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New Honda dealership nearly ready

By Paris Goodnight
Salisbury Post
Gerry Wood took some time out between meetings on the final details of his new Honda showplace to point out the latest technology going into the first new auto dealership Salisbury has seen in more than a decade.
A lot of the effort is focused on being more efficient and environmentally friendly. Toward that goal, Wood showed off a central control room that will monitor heating, air conditioning and lighting for the complex that represents a more than $5 million investment. He said lights inside the building are on motion detectors, turning on without flipping a switch when someone walks into a room. The large lights outside are also on timers, but they include detectors to sense the amount of sunlight, so they turn off when it’s bright enough that lights aren’t needed.
While some ideas for the project came from the local folks, the corporation set other parameters.
“Honda requires some things, just like if you build a McDonald’s it has to look like a McDonald’s,” he said Wednesday during a walk-through of the facility. He pointed out a retaining wall in the service area that Honda requires as a safety factor.
Workers were still marking off white lines leading into the service area while a separate crew was lining up where the Honda letters would go on the outside of the building.
Inside, a monitor measured the humidity in the service bays and drill holes marked where the concrete was tested to make sure it was properly cured before a final epoxy coating goes on.
Wood showed tanks where new oil is stored and others that will hold used motor oil for recycling. The car wash at the back end of the facility will use recycled water.
C.S. Bradshaw Construction is general contractor for the building across Jake Alexander Boulevard from the current Honda location, which opened July 14, 1997. It comes nearly a year after ground was broken for the project. Planning for the move goes back for years.
“We brought some cars over to let people know we’re close” to moving in, said Wood, who came to Salisbury from Toronto in 1994.
Other vehicles will be moved in April before a later grand opening celebration.
The new building and 5.2 acres of property will basically double the size of the existing operation: it has parking space for 400 vehicles (up from 200), room for four service adviser desks (up from two) and 16 bays for servicing vehicles (up from eight). Wood said he also bought an additional 2.4 acres across Martin Luther King Avenue from next-door neighbor Team Chevrolet in case he needs more space.
A 130-foot culvert carries water from a stream across the back parking lot, where 27,000 cubic yards of dirt went in to level it out. One specially constructed tower was put in at the corner to handle lines that carry 47,000 volts of power over the lot. Cars can be parked underneath the lines, which had to be rerouted to maintain a 34-foot clearance on either side.
Wood’s original plans listed a 24,477-square-foot building, but he said it will actually house about 29,000 square feet of space in all.
All of the tool boxes in the air conditioned service area will be uniform, in Honda’s colors. Benches on wheels will make it easier for technicians to maneuver under cars raised from in-ground hoists. Wood said the hoists are housed in something like a cocoon to capture any leaks. High-output T5 fluorescent bulbs will light the area without producing as much heat as other types of bulbs.
Wood’s Kia dealership will take the place of the current Honda operation and will get its own updating as soon as construction is finished on the Honda project. Wood also owns the Chrysler/Dodge/ Jeep dealership.
Sue Carter, the receptionist since 1988, will still be answering the main Honda number at 704-637-9090. She’s among a number of longtime employees who will be making the move across the boulevard. Wood said about 70 employees work for the Honda dealership now; the number will jump to near 100 with the new building.
Contact Paris Goodnight at 704-797-4255 or pgoodnight@ salisburypost.com.

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