But that era will come to a close on Aug. 31.
“It is at this time and with deep regret that the Henry Oberling Motor Company announces a significant restructuring in the family-owned operation,” Henry Oberling III said on Tuesday. “We will be discontinuing all new vehicle product sales.”
Besides the new car dealership, the company also is closing Superior Rental Car and the Ford and Chrysler service centers.
The dealership still will sell used cars and operate the Yamaha motorcycle franchise, however.
“We are not changing locations,” Oberling said. “I want to be clear on that.”
He said 20 jobs will be lost with the restructuring and 10 employees will be retained.
Oberling said the suffering local and national economies were the reasons for the restructuring. He said the influx of foreign automotive products, record-high fuel prices, volatile economic conditions and ever-changing interest rates have hurt the automotive industry.
Oberling said no decision has been made on what to do with the new car showroom.
Portsmouth Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Huff said the closing will cause an economic blow to the area.
“I hate to see it and I hate to hear about it,” he said. “We need all the dealerships to stay competitive and I hate to lose one. The dealership and the Oberling family have been a fixture in our area for many years.”
Huff said he hopes another Ford or Chrysler dealership takes over for Oberling. He also suggested that maybe Glockner General Motors could take the franchises.
“They already have Chevrolet, Toyota and Honda, so why not Ford,” Huff said.
He said the closing is worse because it comes just after M & J Industries in Lucasville last week said it will terminate 253 employees.
“That's not good news, that's for sure,” Huff said of the twin announcements. “I think M & J will bounce back and get some of their contracts back. But it's a blow in the meantime.”
JEFF BARRON can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.