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Old 04-18-2012, 12:14 PM   #1
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Tom Henry New Dealership

I thought it might be fun to document a ground up build of a new Chevrolet Dealership. The first photo is of the lot with cars in it, which will be where the new building goes.
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Old 04-18-2012, 02:05 PM   #2
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Groundbreaking, with my daughter Kate and Neil Walker Pittsburgh Pirate.
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Old 04-18-2012, 02:23 PM   #3
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I can only imagine how you feel, congrats .
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Old 04-18-2012, 02:29 PM   #4
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A new building addition, or new showroom and whole 9 yards? Maybe you can get it done before I get around to ordering my convertible ZL1...
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Old 04-18-2012, 02:35 PM   #5
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Cannot wait to visit you in your new digs!

It would be really cool for you to document the odd things you find stuck in the corners of the current building as it is coming down. Love to know what you guys find.
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Old 04-18-2012, 03:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by el ess X View Post
A new building addition, or new showroom and whole 9 yards? Maybe you can get it done before I get around to ordering my convertible ZL1...
It is a complete new dealership. The old one will get demolished. Rumor has it the Fbodfather is going to O D on Iced Tea and drive an old Toyota into the walls.
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Old 04-19-2012, 08:40 AM   #7
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Congrats Tom . . Best wishes to you on the construction!
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Old 04-19-2012, 08:50 AM   #8
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It is a complete new dealership. The old one will get demolished. Rumor has it the Fbodfather is going to O D on Iced Tea and drive an old Toyota into the walls.
Congrats on the new dealership , I know going to cost some serious benjamin's to bring to life and wish you continual success.



Your staff and you personally treated me likey family when I had to stop for truck repair on the way upto the Camaro Homecoming in Canada last year!
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:13 AM   #9
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Progress Shots.
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Old 04-19-2012, 06:53 PM   #10
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Awesome Tom !!

Keep on posting. This will be a great documentary on the birth of a dealership right alongside the birth of the THR Camaros !!!

Congratulations
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:03 PM   #11
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Tom, I know how you must feel, paying (building) it forward. It's got to be bittersweet in some ways, but how great it is!

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Old 04-19-2012, 10:39 PM   #12
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Great idea, Tom!

I've seen the newly-designed buildings around here...Tom Henry Chevrolet will have never looked better!
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:47 PM   #13
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Wow. Will be fun watching this. Enjoyed my trip up there.
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Old 04-19-2012, 11:10 PM   #14
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definitely going to be watching this
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Old 04-26-2012, 10:59 AM   #15
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The new Dealership Building is progressing slowly but surely –

and it will be magnificent!!

– it will be something that our family will be so very proud of – just as we are so very proud of the job that Tom and Sue have done over the past many years…….

But – once the new building goes up – the old building must come down….there simply isn’t the room to turn even a small portion of it into a museum – as much as we’d love to do that…….

And watching the old building as it’s demolished isn’t going to be an easy thing for any of us to watch…………

Oh the many, many memories of 50+ years……

(this might be a good time to get a cup of coffee……you know how I can ramble on……….)

A building is ‘alive’ in many respects – it has its own sounds, smells, tastes, and sights – and as I sit back and reminisce, these ‘senses’ come flooding back……

As children way back in 1961, Tom and Sue and I watched as the present day building took shape -- The original building that housed the dealership down in the town of Bakerstown was old and very inefficient. And - -as the business grew and grew, a decision was made to move up onto Route 8. We watched each ‘addition’ as it was constructed and then moved into. My father did quite a bit of the plumbing in the original portions. In fact, Tom has found many of the invoices from “Tom and Dale Plumbing and Heating” from the spring and summer of 1961… My father was very particular about the quality of workmanship – and the appearance of the finished product.

I can still hear his voice: “…DO NOT LET THE SOLDER DRIP, buddy, – clean it up nicely—It’ll show pride in your workmanship!”

So – when the building comes down, a lot of ‘perfect’ solder joints will come down with it….and on those joints, my father’s finger-prints……..


The very first part of the present-day building was finished in the fall of 1961 - -just in time for “New Car Announcement Weekend” where the 1962 Chevrolets were unveiled.

(“Introducing the 1962 Chevrolets! A World of Worth!” )

I have very clear memories of a brand-spanking new 1962 Tuxedo Black Impala 4-door hardtop on display in the showroom windows – also a Twilight Blue Nova Convertible that our Grandparents received that weekend as their demo. Mom Settlemire received an Ermine White Impala Convertible with a Red interior – I can still smell the aroma of my father lighting up a Lucky Strike as we’d drive on a cold winter’s night in that convertible……..

Shortly thereafter, my father and Uncle Tom bought a Jeep Franchise – and my father became a silent partner in his plumbing business that he’d formed a few years before. He loved cars – and thus wanted to enter the automobile business full-time.

Uncle Tom was very successful in his new Chevrolet dealership -- and a new showroom was added in the late winter- early spring of 1963…..I still remember the thrill of the “Travelling Chevy Show” as it arrived with the magic of a cut-away Corvette……..

Another addition was put on to the back of the building sometime in 1964 – that addition gave the shop another 6 stalls.

In 1966, the Jeep franchise was moved into the present-day building from a rented facility nearby. My father and a partner bought a Chevy dealership in Blairsville at that time- - but because he had a wife and children that wanted no part of moving away from Mars, he’d end up selling his half to his partner in the summer of 1968…..and he’d come back to Bakerstown…..

The ‘old’ Chevy building down in the main part of Bakerstown – which by this time was primarily used for storage -- was sold sometime around 1966 or early 1967 – and became a furniture store.

The used car lot (the site where the new 21st century building will be constructed) was added in 1967 -- it’s hard to believe that so many Chevrolets were sold out of such a small tract of land up to that point–

In late 1969, I believe, the new Parts Department wing was added – and an old carport was removed.

In late 1970 or early 1971, a new Body Shop was added to the main property and the old body shop down in Bakerstown was sold. The old shop still stands today – it’s been added on to and houses a few small businesses. The new body shop has been added onto twice – and frankly, it’s still not big enough!

The remodel in the late 80s and early 90s changed the appearance inside and outside - but I'll always remember the way it was in the late 60s—those were the “glory” years to us north of 50 years old….. I’ll never forget walking into the showroom one day in 1964 – and there on the wall was a clock – and on the clock it read “Someone buys a new Chevrolet every 6 seconds!” That number and its implications simply astounded me! Cousin Tom still has that clock in his THC memorabilia collection…….

I can still hear the sounds of many of the doors opening and closing (and Uncle Tom's office door slamming!) I can still hear my father yelling "I’ll take it on Line 28" when he was being paged for a phone call. Dad had an office upstairs and one downstairs – I can still hear him running up and down the stairs. And frankly, he had much more nervous energy than I do. (….I know some of you may find that hard to believe…..)

I can still hear the jingle of my father’s set of keys – keys that opened every door in the place – his key ring should have been registered as a lethal weapon simply because of the sheer number of keys…..and when I was laid off at GM in 1980, Uncle Tom gave me a project to have a lock-smith come in and switch out many locks – getting the set of keys down to a manageable level……….

In the recesses of my mind, I can still can hear the music of radio station WJKF -- -and later WKOI -- playing thru the intercom system both inside and outside of the dealership -- Every time I hear the song “A Summer Place” by Percy Faith and his Orchestra, in my mind I’m immediately transported back to the mid-sixties – into a showroom of Chevelles and Chevy IIs; Impalas and Corvettes……….

I can still hear the laugh of "Mr. B" - our new car prep-guy who followed Uncle Tom from Coyne & Evans Chevy when Tom Henry Chevrolet opened its doors in February of 1958...........Bob would make his rounds in the morning to see who had sold what the night before - so he could put his prep-schedule together – and no round was complete without his comments about his beloved Pirates or Steelers. He and uncle Oscar would get into arguments and Bob would laugh and laugh -- Bob Bennett was a great guy and we trusted him with our lives.........he’s in that ‘Great Chevy Showroom in the Sky” with my Dad and Uncle Tom these days……….

The interiors of the cars back in the 50s and 60s had interesting fragrances - the stuff that you were breathing probably wasn’t an elixir for your health, but it sure put you in the mood to buy a new Car!.... I can still smell the various scents.... especially the rubberized floorcovering of the Biscayne and the base Chevy II models….

I can still hear the 'Ta-chink ....Ta chink….Ta chink' of the lube machine as a technician would be lubing the chassis of a customer's car -- or the screeching of the high-speed wheel balancer --

In my mind, I can still taste the 'explosion of cold bubbles' from a bottle of Coca-Cola -- we sold them for a dime until OSHA made us retire the old Coke machines..........

The sound of an SS-396 starting in the showroom as it was being made ready for an excited customer – that amazing echo of muscle coming awake – with the acrid odor of the exhaust…….how can I forget that?

I think I still have scars on my hands from installing set after set of wheel covers using a rubber mallet – if you didn’t cut yourself on the inside edges of the wheel cover, then you probably smashed your thumb at least once or twice a week………

There was always the distinctive sound of a car carrier as it downshifted coming down the hill on Route 8 – and then parking in front of the dealership to unload brand new Chevrolets from factories located all over North America…..I’d rush to see which cars would be ‘ours’ versus the ones heading to the next dealership………to this day, I marvel at how they manage to tuck so many vehicles onto one trailer – and how it’s almost a ‘ballet’ as the driver works the hydraulics in order to get each vehicle off the carrier without damaging anything or anyone!

I loved Aunt E.J’s “Prophecy” perfume – she is Aunt Marion’s sister and she worked in the office for many years until retirement….the office always smelled so good and clean……

Each fall was exciting because the next model year’s cars and trucks would be introduced to the public in late September – no one got to see the new models until then! And what a celebration it was each year! Uncle Tom was a great fan of the ‘Big Band’ sound – and thus, for several years, he’d hire a local band to entertain the customers on Friday and Saturday night of Announcement Weekend – I can still hear John Harris – a family friend – hitting high notes with his trumpet in the shop – a shop which had been transformed into a second showroom for the occasion -- with draped walls and freshly scrubbed floors…….

Benny Neubauer --– I can hear his distinctive whistle all throughout the building – he called everyone “Pal”……….I swear that Benny could overhaul a Power-Glide Transmission blindfolded……….. He did a lot of the electrical work and repair on the building-- and had a distinctive way of determining whether a wire was ‘hot.’

He’d simply tap it with his finger! ( “….YUP!.........that’s the HOT ONE……Pal!......)

And the cars!

Our first ’67 Camaro -- a Bolero Red RS Convertible…

...an “Evening Orchid” ’65 Impala SS – the most beautiful car I’d ever seen – (until, of course the first Camaro came along….)

A gaggle of mid-sixties Corvairs –

….. a truck-load of ’70 Chevelle SS-396s coming from the company car garage in Detroit…

…..a couple dozen ’63 Impala Convertibles – they landed mid-winter and we stored them ……until the snow melted…

…the elegance of the ’71 full-sized Chevrolets –

…..the ’68 Corvette which stopped traffic as it was unloaded from the carrier– literally!

……..The ’73 Monte Carlo – a huge personal luxury automobile that handled like a sports-car……

..the ‘right-sized’ ’77 Chevrolets……

…for whatever reason, the rightsizing of the Malibu and Monte Carlo didn’t go as well in ’78……

…..the tail-fins of the ’59 and ’60 Chevrolets……

….the first vinyl roof covers…….

….and the names of the many colors over the years! Aztec Bronze – Ivy Green – Azure Turquoise – Palomar Red – Ash Gold – Nassau Blue – Crocus Yellow – Glacier Gray – Aegean Brown – Palomino Ivory……….so descriptive and yet some so exotic……..

So many good memories……….



Yes – the new building will be magnificent –

…….and it’s going to make a difference to everyone associated with Tom Henry Chevrolet –

….and most importantly, it’s going to make a much better experience for the person who matters most: The Customer!

……..but when the wrecking ball takes its last swing – and the old building is but a memory…….it’s going to be tough for Tom-- and for Sue --and for me --and for the rest of the family…

…the echoes will die……

..and an era will come to an end……

….and yet I just know that Uncle Tom and my father and our Grandparents will be looking down expectantly – and they’ll be proud to see that Tom and Sue continue the Henry family tradition………

We’re proud – and blessed – to be a ‘Chevrolet Family’ --

and I hear that the next chapter of the Henry saga is gonna be GREAT!.... as a new era comes into being………….

Thanks for listening to another one of my ramblings…………
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Old 04-26-2012, 11:00 AM   #16
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pictorial history here:


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Old 04-26-2012, 11:06 AM   #17
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Nice read! Thanks for sharing. We just helped to remodel our local Chevy dealership, and the one down the road is also in the same process. Looks like GM is trying making them all have the same look so even the buildings show brand Identity which is a good thing.
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Old 04-26-2012, 12:16 PM   #18
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Congratulations Tom and my very best wishes for your continued great success.

"……..but when the wrecking ball takes its last swing – and the old building is but a memory…….it’s going to be tough for Tom-- and for Sue --and for me --and for the rest of the family…

…the echoes will die……

..and an era will come to an end……

….and yet I just know that Uncle Tom and my father and our Grandparents will be looking down expectantly – and they’ll be proud to see that Tom and Sue continue the Henry family tradition………

We’re proud – and blessed – to be a ‘Chevrolet Family’ --

and I hear that the next chapter of the Henry saga is gonna be GREAT!.... as a new era comes into being………….

Thanks for listening to another one of my ramblings………… "

Scott, I believe those echoes will still be quietly reverberating with little whispers from your family members residing in that Great Chevy Showroom. As you say just a new chapter of a very great book...and speaking of books, this has to be one of those chapters. So please...is this chapter #1 of the Saga of The Fbodfather?

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Old 04-26-2012, 01:24 PM   #19
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That is a great history of the Tom Henry dealership and the sights, sounds and memories it holds.

You always have such a way with words. I hope someday when (if...) you ever retire you write a book of Chevrolet memoirs.

Thank You so much for sharing Scott.
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Old 04-26-2012, 02:11 PM   #20
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That is a great history of the Tom Henry dealership and the sights, sounds and memories it holds.

You always have such a way with words. I hope someday when (if...) you ever retire you write a book of Chevrolet memoirs.

Thank You so much for sharing Scott.
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Old 04-26-2012, 03:05 PM   #21
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congrats Tom.........Can't wait to see it
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:06 PM   #22
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I am proud to have received my Camaro from the Old dealership...and was able to add my own "exhaust music" to the old showroom floor. And I cannot wait to pick up the next car I buy from there from the NEW location. Oh, Henry - I will be back!
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:19 PM   #23
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Congrats Tom, this will be fun to watch!!
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Old 04-26-2012, 04:40 PM   #24
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That was a great read, Scott.... so Tom's daughter will make it a 3rd generation GM dealership? That says a lot right there
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:07 PM   #25
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Scott....that took me back....and I wasn't even there. But I feel as though I was...tears in the eyes and what-not...

I think the best thing Tom can do -- is to keep just a few fragments of the old building...and after that story - I highly suggest a soldered joint from the plumbing be preserved ...And let the "echoes" reverberate within the new building.

When I first heard Tom Henry Chevrolet was remodeling - I'll be honest, I'd hoped it would be finished in time for my delivery, so I could have really good pictures at a the brand-spanking-new building....

....But now.....now I feel truly blessed and fortunate to have had my ZL1 pulled out of the current building...to see it sitting in the tight showroom next to a Corvette, and a Malibu...It feels even more special to me, now...Perhaps it picked up a few of those "echoes" of the past while sitting there waiting for me...and I just needed you to tell that story so I could understand.

Long live Tom Henry Chevy....
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