Columbus is welcoming a new auto dealer to the north side’s auto row.
Hubler Automotive Group will operate the Honda franchise in Columbus from the former Renner Motors building at 3055 Central Ave.
Hubler purchased both the Renner Motors building and Honda dealership from Lisa Renner, who will operate her Ford franchise from a new location.
Hubler Honda is the first Hubler dealership for Bartholomew County and Hubler’s 12th dealership in the state.
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“We have very, very large goals, along with what Honda Corporate has identified as the potential here in town,” said John Haines, general manager at Hubler Honda.
“We were excited to come to Columbus. The population, the type of people who live here, all the businesses located here … the future for Columbus seems very strong. It’s a growing town, a growing county. The town just has everything it needs for a car dealership to be successful.”
Continuous improvements will be made to the Central Avenue facility, both inside and out, Haines said.
The showroom will receive several upgrades along with the customer lounge and office spaces, he said.
Renovation has begun on the Hubler Honda service area, which is getting new equipment, including lifts, Haines said.
“Let’s say, 18 to 24 months out, we have plans for an even bigger, more large-scale renovation to make it a truly state-of-the art dealership,” Haines said.
Customers can find about 175 Honda vehicles on the lot, but Haines said the goal is to feature about 250 at any given time. The new 2018 Honda Odyssey is currently in stock with more 2018 Hondas scheduled to arrive within the next few months.
About a dozen employees from Renner Motors — including Honda technicians, Honda advisors, three sales associates, department managers and parts employees — remain with Hubler Honda, Haines said.
As Renner was considering potential buyers for the Honda franchise, her dealership employees were top of mind, Haines said.
“She wanted to make sure she was selling to someone who cared about her current employees and would do the best for both Honda and Columbus,” Haines said. “After that, we rose to the top and we’re very happy because of that.”
Terry Gilpin, a Honda sales associate, worked for Renner for five years before transferring to Hubler as part of the ownership change in July.
When Gilpin and the rest of the Renner Motors team was first notified of the transition, Gilpin said he was nervous.
“Lisa told me that the opportunity for me, by staying there, was going to be a lot better because I had a lot of customers,” Gilpin said. “Hubler is also really big on advertising, and they would be able to spend a little more on advertising money to build the dealership up to their expectations.”
Gilpin said his confidence has grown since.
“I think it’s going to be great. It’ll be really great for the community of Columbus,” Gilpin said.
Gilpin said the Hubler company is customer-oriented and gets involved in the communities where it operates.
Carrie Hess of Westport wrote in a Facebook review Monday that she had a “great experience” buying a new Honda from the dealership.
“The staff was very friendly, knowledgeable, and was very no-pressure,” Hess wrote. “If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, definitely check this dealership out.”
Location: 3055 Central Ave., Columbus