Revamped Honda dealership opens
by Kellen Short
The revamped Honda dealership held its grand opening Thursday in Boone under a new name: Friendship Honda.
Formerly called High Country Honda, the building on Blowing Rock Road has undergone a complete transformation in the last year.
The old blue-and-white office has been replaced with an expanded structure fashioned in earth tones, stone and clear glass -- a renovation that took place even as the dealership remained open for service and sales.
Leaders of the dealership, along with their partners in banking, construction and the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, gathered Thursday on the lot to celebrate the fresh start.
"This is not your grandfather's Honda dealer, is it?" said Chamber president Dan Meyer.
Planning for the makeover began about 18 months ago, and construction commenced around August or September 2012, said contractor Jim Street of J.A. Street & Associates in Blountville, Tenn.
"I was so ashamed of the building we had ... but look what (the new building) does for the corridor on Blowing Rock Road," said Mitch Walters, president of the Friendship family of dealerships, which operates nine locations in Bristol, Johnson City, Boone and Granite Falls.
While the Boone dealership has been Friendship-owned since 1998, it only recently took on the same name.
The service department is the only part of the old building that remains. The dealership now has 15 service bays where it used to have five.
Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson, who helped cut the ribbon, said she already had brought her Honda in for an oil change and praised the service.
"You guys can become a part of that elite group, too, like Loretta," said General Manager Dan Halsey to the crowd in attendance.
Friendship Honda of Boone currently employs 28 people and has about 100 new and 70 used vehicles on the lot, Halsey said. But with any luck, those vehicles won't stay parked long.
"Just remember one thing," Walters said. "We're dealin'!"