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Pioneer makes mark on Parkersburg dealership

New sites to be constructed this year

Grand opening signs announce the change of the former Larry Simmons Honda Mazda Volkswagen to Pioneer Honda Volkswagen Mazda at the dealership on 14th and Seventh streets in Parkersburg. With the change has come expansion as owner Dick Nourse purchased the former 7-Eleven building and plans to make it a used-car center. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

PARKERSBURG — New signs have gone up officially proclaiming the former Larry Simmons Honda Mazda Volkswagen is part of the Pioneer and Family Ford group of dealerships.

The change to Pioneer Honda Volkswagen Mazda happened on Feb. 1. It’s just the start, with two new sites and more than 40 employees expected to join the operation by the end of the year.

Dick Nourse, whose company has been operating the former Larry Simmons dealerships under a management agreement since November, said all of the approximately 42 employees working for Simmons have been retained.

“It’s all the same people, plus some new faces,” he said. “We’ve hired about eight more people at this point and (there are about) six more to be hired.”

Nourse expects to break ground by mid-summer on a new dealership location near the Traffic Circle.

“Honda will move into the new facility at Murdoch and Ohio (Avenue),” he said. “Mazda and Volkswagen will stay where they are, taking over the Honda showroom” at 14th and Seventh streets.

The new facility will be designed in conjunction with Honda.

“Honda will take the first crack at the architectural drawings of what the new Honda facility will look like,” he said.

The manufacturer will provide specs for about 80 percent of the facility, with the rest to be finished by Pioneer and put out to bid locally, Nourse said.

A used truck operation on Garfield Avenue, beside Lee Myles Transmission, should be ready to open by the fall, Nourse said.

“We’ll have to hire an additional 40 people between now and when all of that construction is completed,” he said.

While Nourse initially planned to sell most of the existing Simmons property and split operations between the two new sites, his experience over the last few months changed his mind. Instead, he purchased a former 7-Eleven nearby, and is having it remodeled.

“Hopefully by about March 1, we’ll be opening that building as a used car center,” Nourse said.

Parkersburg City Council this week approved the final reading of an ordinance vacating a portion of an alleyway between the new building and the former Simmons property to provide a contiguous lot for the business.

The used vehicle site across Seventh Street from the rest of the former Simmons property will be devoted exclusively to trucks and SUVs going forward, Nourse said.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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