GLENWOOD SPRINGS — It’s been several months’ worth of anticipation for Kat Blondin of New Castle as she drove her Honda CRV back and forth by the West Glenwood construction site for the new High Country Honda dealership.
“I literally couldn’t wait for them to open,” Blondin said Tuesday while sitting in the service department waiting room at the newly opened dealership.
“I haven’t had any major service needs, but even just for routine service I prefer to have someone from Honda looking at my car,” she said.
After purchasing her car from the former Vista Honda dealership, she was disappointed when Vista pulled out in 2011, leaving the only choices for dealer servicing in Grand Junction or the Denver area.
“I’ve been saving up my recall items until they opened,” added Fred Wooden of Missouri Heights, who said he would only go to Grand Junction “under duress.”
“I’m happy to see the dealership come back,” Wooden said. “I’ve had my car [a 2003 Honda Accord] for 10 years, so I’ll probably be looking around for another one soon.”
Although several finishing touches are still being completed, David and Kim McDavid, who purchased the local Honda franchise two years ago, decided to open just before the new year.
“We sold our first car on New Year’s Eve,” said David McDavid, son of the legendary Texas auto dealer by the same name and the third generation of car dealers in his family.
The McDavid family entered the automotive business in 1936, and the David McDavid Automotive Group was started in the 1960s. The dealership chain eventually grew to 17 franchises and more than 1,000 employees throughout Texas at its height.
McDavid tells the story of how his father became one of the first Honda dealers in the United States in 1971.
“The [Irving, Texas] mayor at the time was hounding him to go see the Cowboys in the Super Bowl at the New Orleans Superdome. “There, he met the guy who was hired by Honda to start the first 100 U.S. Honda dealerships.”
In the early years, the Civic was the primary Honda model in the U.S.
“When the gas crunch hit in the late ’70s, Honda just took off,” McDavid said.
In 1998, the Asbury Automotive Group purchased the McDavid Group, and the family stayed on for about five years, he said.
After he left the company in 2003, McDavid worked for period of time as an automotive consultant.
“We wanted to start a new dealership, and looked in other parts of the country … Florida, the Carolinas,” he said. “We had been coming to Glenwood Springs for about 30 years, and this was definitely one of the places we were looking.”
When he was advised that the Honda franchise was available, McDavid said he figured it was meant to be. With their son, Mason, in college, and their daughter, Mulvey, a senior in high school in Texas, they figured it was time to make the move to Colorado.
Located at 51429 Highway 6 in West Glenwood, next door to the new Mountain Chevrolet dealership, High Country Honda features a 23,500-square-foot building with a large, bright showroom.
The 2.1-acre lot has room for between 200 and 250 new and used cars, including the top-selling CRV, Odyssey and Accord. The Accord Hybrid, which touts 50 miles to the gallon and goes for around $30,000, is also popular.
“We always had a big connection to American Honda, and it offers a little bit of everything for me as a dealer,” McDavid said. “It’s a re-energized company that makes cars that really function for the people.”
The dealership features a high-tech service department with 14 stalls. The service department is run by operations manager Teri Walker, and Mack Covington is the resident certified Honda Master Technician.
Both are longtime local residents and veterans of the automotive trade in Glenwood Springs.
“We’re really excited to see Honda back, and I’ve been waiting since the old dealership closed to go back to work for them,” Walker said. “Once you’ve owned a Honda or worked for Honda, I think you always have a tie to them.”
McDavid said he eventually plans to become involved in the community, though he’s busy just getting settled in at this point.
“I do think it’s important for me to get to know the community, and for people to get to know who we are and that we are part of the community,” he said. “So far, I think I’ve shook hands with just about every customer who has walked through the door.”