When Phil Bachman started selling Toyotas out of a modest Roan Street showroom in 1976, the Japanese automaker offered only three models and had yet to establish a stateside assembly factory.
But as Toyota grew to eventually dominate the global market, so too did Bachman’s dealership grow, moving from Roan Street to a larger facility on the Bristol Highway, where it’s been for 30 years.
On Tuesday, the longtime Tri-Cities businessman again added to his holdings on “the Motor Mile,” when cut the ribbon on a new 46,000-square-foot sales and service center, conveniently located just across the parking lot from the former building.
“It’s an honor to be here, thank you all for coming,” Bachman told most of his 65 employees and the representatives of Toyota’s North American subsidiary gathered to celebrate the opening.
Construction on the new dealership started two years ago, and took a $5 million investment to get it out of the ground, Bachman’s Vice President Jim Stouffer said.
“We will hopefully increase our sales by at least half or more,” Stouffer said. “Of course, we moved from a service department with 10 bays to the new service department that has 18 bays, so we’re primed for service for any make and model of car.”
In the old, cramped service quarters, Stouffer said there was often a tight schedule, and the mechanics had trouble moving the vehicles on which they were working in and out of the garage.
The new building also covers 20,000 square feet of sales floor and a larger parts department, as well, leaving more room for storage and a shorter waiting time for needed parts.
Local architecture firm Reedy & Sikes designed the new building, and Kingsport contractor Armstrong Construction made the designs a reality.
Stouffer said the former building, which still stands at 3200 Bristol Highway, will now be used to sell pre-owned vehicles.
In addition to the Toyota and Scion dealership in Johnson City, Bachman also owns Honda franchises in Kingsport and Morristown and a group of dealerships in Greeneville under the Bachman-Bernard Auto Mall name.