Wallace helps celebrate Toyota dealership’s ribbon cutting
NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace holds the bow as dealership General Manager Greg VonCannon cuts the ribbon Wednesday, celebrating the renovation of Rusty Wallace Toyota. The Chamber of Commerce sponsored event featured representatives from Toyota, local suppliers, dealership employees and chamber volunteers.
Normally a crowd as large as the one gathered at Rusty Wallace Toyota on Wednesday would have salesmen going into a frenzy, but the atmosphere was instead casual and celebratory.
The dealership hosted a grand re-opening and ribbon cutting in fine fashion with the Morristown Chamber of Commerce, fellow Toyota employees and its customers, celebrating the end of an 18-month remodel.
“Our goal is to be the No. 1 dealer in the area and we try do that because we want to be the very best in serving our customers and community and we try very hard to do that every day,” Dealership General Manager Greg VonCannon said. “We’ve got some of the best employees, who I’m very proud of and they are the ones who have endured this 18-month odyssey.”
The remodel cost about $3 million and was a part of the Toyota franchise Image II program that began for all facilities in 2006.
With the remodel, the dealership has more than doubled the space of its showroom and service area from 14,000 square-feet to more than 28,000 square-feet.
VonCannon thanked contractors with Burke-Ailey Construction and architect firm Blankenship and Partners for their work on the remodel. He said choosing those partners helped keep the job localized.
He also thanked Brian Hickey, the Toyota dealership facilities manager, for all his input into the new design of the building and showroom.
VonCannon said the biggest change other than space in the building has been the addition of the Scion brand to the dealership’s already strong Toyota fleet.
Opening the ceremony, Chamber chair Roni Snyder noted that when people support the dealership they are also supporting the community because of the several supplier industries that work with Toyota Motor Company.
Some of the largest local facilities with Toyota contracts include JTEKT Automotive Tennessee-Morristown, Inc., DTR Tennessee Inc., OTICS USA, Inc., Kawasaki Tennessee, Inc. and MAHLE Engine Components USA, Inc.
VonCannon said mere appreciation is not enough to show the value of the partnership between the dealership and those industries.
“We’ve made a real investment in the community and we’re proud to be a part of this community. We’re proud to be partners with our suppliers we have in this community over in the industrial park and they buy a lot of cars from us,” he said.
Morristown Mayor Danny Thomas said the commitment (the dealership) made to its customers to expand its services is an important part to buying a car.
“You don’t buy a car and not have it serviced, so the expansion there says you’re making that commitment. We hope that you have many more years of success. We appreciate what you’ve done to the building to bring more people in because when you do buy a Toyota, you support Morristown businesses,” Thomas said.
While the building did shine, one of the main attractions of the ceremony was the namesake of the building, NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace.
Wallace congratulated VonCannon and the dealership team on withstanding the remodel to have a new and improved building.
He said he’s showed off pictures of the remodel to impress friends as he traveled because he’s so proud of how the building looks.
“We’ve been in Morristown a long time and I’m excited that this dealership is finished and how it looks. We’re uptown and we’re going to sell more cars. I realize all the hard work that’s been put into it by the staff and I appreciate all the customers who come in and check us out,” Wallace said.
Both VonCannon and Wallace acknowledged Jim Phillips, in the crowd, who worked with the Motor Racing Network and was instrumental in getting Wallace on board with the car dealership several years ago.
Commenting on the upcoming Bristol race this weekend, the nine time track winner said he got into the car business after winning a Bristol race.
Toyota Dealership partner Ray Huffaker took him to an autograph signing and talked him into joining in the car business. From there the business has grown to encompass seven dealerships throughout East Tennessee.
Also on hand was Toyota Motor Sales Cincinnati regional manager Scott Ratchell.
Ratchell said once again the dealership is up double digits and outpacing its competition in sales.
He presented VonCannon and Wallace with a Katana Samurai sword, which in Japanese custom is treated as a symbol for respect and integrity as a token of congratulations and appreciation.
For more information on the dealership, visit www.rustywallacetoyota.com.
-By Chris Phipps, Tribune Staff Writer