Hancock Auto ready to go

NEWELL – Walking around the gleaming new home of Hancock County Auto on Thursday, Sales Manager Sean Broadbent couldn't help but think about his years with Basil Mangano's Newell Central Service car dealership. He started there in 1992 and stayed with the dealership through a change in ownership, bankruptcy, a couple lean years and a fresh start with a new building just a few blocks away. “It's amazing what's happened in such a short amount of time,” Broadbent said with a smile about as bright as his surroundings. Article Photos GETTING READY — Hancock County Auto Sales Manager Sean Broadbent and sales associate Tracey Hall, second from right, look at a cellphone picture with some friends during Thursday’s open house of the new Chrysler dealership. The dealership, 845 Washington St., Newell, plans to reopen at its new location on Monday. — Stephen Huba   Broadbent is in charge of a sales staff that will begin working at their new location on Monday. Dealership personnel plan to move their offices and their inventory from the current location at 400 Washington St. – former site of Newell Central Service and C. Hackett Chrysler – to their new home at 845 Washington St. – site of the former Newell Memorial Field – over the weekend. On Thursday, employees, project managers, Hancock County politicians and local business leaders gathered for an invitation-only open house at the Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram dealership. Sales associate Tracey Hall of Newell was among those giving tours. She pointed to a big-screen TV in the lobby that shows all parts of the 3.7-acre lot. “There should be no customer unattended,” she said. That emphasis on customer service is evident throughout the state-of-the-art, 23,000-square-foot building, she said. There's the service drive-through that customers will pull into when they arrive to have their car serviced, and there's a brushless car wash that will put the finishing touches on their car when it's done, said General Manager Rob Cellini. Everything is designed to flow in one direction. “You can tell a lot of thought and heart went into this,” Cellini said. Hancock County Auto sits on a football field that first got Chrysler executives' attention two years ago, when Beaver County Auto owner P.J. Latsko gave them a tour of Newell Memorial Field. The property owner, the Business Development Corp. of the Northern Panhandle, had been deeded the site by the Hancock County commissioners, who bought it in December 2012, and was looking for a buyer. Officials announced the sale in April 2014 but did not identify Latsko as the buyer until he had been awarded the franchise by Chrysler in July of that year. Latsko opened in the former Hackett building and started making plans for the construction of a new dealership. Ground was broken in June 2015. “I've known about this dealership since (Basil) Mangano was in business. We just saw the potential there for sales volume,” Latsko said. “Chrysler contacted us (around the time of the Hackett bankruptcy), and we were awarded the franchise with the understanding that we would build a new building.” The BDC showed him a nearby property of approximately 4 acres that was right in the middle of town, on the main drag and level. “It was perfect for us,” he said. The project, under the direction of general contractor JD&E of Wheeling, represents a $5.25 million investment in Hancock County – $250,000 for the purchase, $5 million for construction and $20,000 for “soft costs” such as legal fees, appraisals and environmental assessments, he said. “The thing came in on time and on budget,” Latsko said. “The quality is fantastic.” Latsko said he and JD&E officials toured a new Chrysler dealership in Virginia and received a template for how to design the one in Newell. The new building has tinted storefront windows and an LED lighting system, as well as the latest Chrysler branding and design characteristics, he said. “P.J. and Rob knew how they wanted it built,” said Jason Costello, JD&E project manager. “When you have an owner who knows what he wants, you can keep it on time and on budget.” The size is based on projected sales volume. How many cars can be sold in a year translates into the appropriate square footage for sales, parts and service, Latsko said. “The more money we generate, I'm sure there's going to be a tax benefit (for Hancock County),” he said. “It's just nice to grow the business. It's going to help all the businesses in the area.” Hancock County Auto expects to have an inventory of 200 to 300 new and used cars and an eventual workforce of 40 full-time and part-time staffers, he said. The dealership currently employs 29 people, Cellini said.- See more at: http://weirtondailytimes.com/page/content.detail/id/657025/Hancock-Auto-ready-to-go.html#sthash.dfmSJU41.dpuf