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Tonkin Gresham Honda grows into new digs

Dealership moves into bigger space to help meet customers' needs
by: John Klicker, General Manager Scott Sidell says the new Tonkin Gresham Honda has plenty of amenities for customers, including wireless Internet and a viewing station so patrons can see the progress on their vehicles.

Inside the bustling new Tonkin Gresham Honda, people kick the tires on prospective purchases, employees scramble to help customers and a mom and daughter try out the toys in the children's section.

There's a lot to take in inside the 44,000-square-foot 'New Image' facility, but General Manager Scott Sidell said the emphasis remains on ensuring that the vehicle-shopping experience remains fun and friendly.

After 20 years on Burnside Road, the new dealership opened April 2 in a former cabbage-patch field on Stark Street, across from Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center. The operation includes sales, parts, services and a detailing department spread out across 7 acres.

Sidell said the dealership employs around 75 people. The need for a new location became apparent about four years ago as Honda's product line continued to expand and the business started handling more customers.

'The demand needed a facility like this,' Sidell said.

The land for the new site was purchased two years ago and construction of the state-of-the-art facility lasted a year, he said during a tour. The spot is closer to Interstate 84 and Mt. Hood Community College, he noted.

New, used and certified cars, mini-vans and SUVs, including gas-saving hybrids, are on sale inside and out, and the dealership also has an indoor service-receiving area so customers can avoid the elements.

Sidell said he believes the sprawling service area is the largest of any dealer in the Portland-metro area. Technicians working on vehicles have computer access to national personnel who are able to answer questions about service and parts instantaneously.

And while other dealerships also have detailing areas, Sidell pointed out the huge bay doors that allow Tonkin Gresham Honda to detail RVs and even boats.

The dealership, designated by Honda executives as a 'jewel of the Northwest,' offers prospective car buyers plenty of amenities. Fresh coffee, flat-screen televisions and wireless Internet availability are all on site, in addition to the children's area.

Sidell said there is also a large conference room upstairs that may be offered to community groups who could take advantage of the dealership's hours of operation, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

'I think the amenities are important,' he said. 'The goal is fast, fun and easy service.'