by Shaun Tilghman
Last Thursday, Shepherd’s Chevrolet, Inc., located at 1002 SR 114W in North Manchester, hosted an open house to celebrate both the dealership’s grand re-opening and its 45th anniversary.
Just under nine months ago, the North Manchester branch of the Shepherd’s Family Auto Group, which also has locations in Kendallville and Rochester, began a two-phase remodeling project. The first phase included building a 10,000-square-foot facility for the new service department, while the second phase involved renovations to the existing retail facility.
“We started the remodel inside after we moved to the new service department, which was around the second or third week of April,” said Tim Shepherd, President of the North Manchester Shepherd’s dealership, “and we finished during the first week of September, so this phase took about five months. We converted the old service department into a drive-thru service lane, a new lounge, a new conference room, a new GM (General Motors) accessories room, a new car delivery area, and an expanded showroom with additional sales offices.
“I think our finish date came at a very special time because it was September of 1968 when my father started this store, so it was really neat to be able to combine our grand re-opening with our 45th anniversary as a Chevrolet dealership in the community. We had close to 300 people come out and share their appreciation with us; it was definitely nice to see all of our loyal customers and it was a very special night.”
The renovations to the local dealership were part of a GM program called Essential Brand Elements, through which Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac dealerships were encouraged to voluntarily participate in an initiative to improve the image of their facilities, according to Shepherd.
Dealers that opted to participate in the program were expected to follow design guidelines for their respective brand, as set forth by GM. Those guidelines generally included designs for new exterior entrances with updated signage, a bright showroom with a customer greeting station, a modern customer lounge with free Wi-Fi, and even the floor tiles and paint schemes were mandated.
“We also totally gutted the inside – as far as lights, ceiling tiles, flooring, furniture, carpet, and paint – so that they all would align with the Essential Brand Elements for Chevrolet,” Shepherd explained. “GM wants every store to be similar, so that when you drive by a Chevrolet dealership you know it’s a Chevy dealer. So, they have a whole book that tells you the changes you need to make, and even the colors you need to use, in order to be compliant.
“It wasn’t a must that we do these things, but as a Chevy dealer, we felt that it was necessary to be a part of Chevrolet’s vision for the future, which includes having a facility that would best serve our guests as they come in. We’re trying to make the whole experience more comfortable for them by offering such amenities as being out of the elements when they drop their car off for service or when they’re picking up their new vehicle for delivery. I think it also helps to show that we’re not only committed to Chevrolet, but also to continuing to serve our loyal customers in North Manchester and throughout Wabash County and surrounding counties.”
Back in April, just before the second phase began, Shepherd highlighted the importance of viewing this project as not just a means for improving their business, but as a means for helping the community their business serves, which is why they used local companies for all aspects of work.
“When we sat down to look at the project, we wanted to make sure that we used as many local companies/businesses as possible,” he continued, “and at the same time, all of those companies we used have been Shepherd’s customers in the past. Overall, we would really like to thank the following companies: D & C Construction, Troy Eads Excavating, D/T Construction, Eads & Son Bulldozing, Gaunt & Son Asphalt, Ruppel Electric, Fahs-Brown Plumbing, Poston Plumbing Services, Van Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning, L.A.W. & Son, BIT Computers, Intersect Technologies, Hire’s Gifts & Electronics, and Harting Furniture. Also, we want to thank the Main View Inn for preparing most of the food during the open house.”
In the end, Shepherd stated that they participated in the improvement initiative in order to better satisfy the needs of their customers and to provide an enhanced customer experience overall. “For us, it was just the right time and it made a lot of sense to get onboard with a program like this,” he added.
“It was a long process,” Shepherd concluded, “but it’s pretty rewarding to get up in the morning and know that we’re coming to work in such a quality facility. I just want to thank the employees for their hard work and patience throughout all of the construction, and I also want to thank our loyal customers for their patience during our remodel as well. We feel very blessed to have a facility of this caliber, and a business that’s been successful in Wabash County and the surrounding areas for 45 years now.”
For more on the new design of the local Shepherd’s Chevrolet, visit www.shepherdsgm.com and click on Shepherd’s North Manchester.