JOHNSON CITY - A vinyl "Champion Chevrolet" sign hung over the name "Grindstaff" at Johnson City's Chevrolet-Cadillac dealership Friday, marking the official ownership change from Steve Grindstaff to two local sales managers and a Kingsport physician.
Co-owner Tim Copenhaver said he and partner Andy Dietrich will be at the business, located at 3606 Bristol Highway, on a daily basis, and the atmosphere will be one of "low pressure" sales with a knowledgeable staff.
"We're not here for the one-time sale," Copenhaver said. "We're here to have a long-lasting relationship with our customers and our employees."
Copenhaver spent the past 15 years at Courtesy Chevrolet in Kingsport, and Dietrich comes from Ramey Ford in Johnson City, where he was the new car sales manager.
Dietrich said the new owners got all cars that remained on the lot in the deal, and they expect to get about 100 new cars in over the weekend.
Copenhaver said about two dozen of the 50 or so Grindstaff employees kept their jobs, mostly in the parts and service department. He added that Champion will have about 50 employees when it is fully staffed.
Dietrich and Copenhaver had been negotiating with Grindstaff since August and take over a 10-year-old building that has been home to the top Chevrolet sales numbers regionally for three of the past five years.
"This is a great facility and a great location, and we're anticipating increasing those sales numbers," said Copenhaver.