An Ohio village’s only new-car dealership entered a revival era after an ownership change in October.

Bill Harris Dealerships on Oct. 31 purchased Cal Hans Ford in Loudonville, Ohio, a dealership that in recent years only operated a sales department, Bill Harris Dealerships President Aaron Harris said.

Seller Linda Hans, the longtime owner, purchased the store with her late husband Cal Hans and took it over after he died in 1997.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought challenges for Hans, including inventory shortages, Harris told Automotive News. And in the past few years, only her son Kevin Hans worked full time at the dealership, while she and another employee worked part time, Harris said.

Harris said he hopes the dealership’s revitalization brings a lift to the surrounding area. Rural Loudonville is between Cleveland and Columbus.

“We’re the resource for a big piece of the community’s needs when it comes to transportation,” Harris said.

Staffing at the renamed Bill Harris Ford has tripled, Harris said, with the hopes of adding at least five more employees this year. Kevin Hans stayed on in sales, Harris said.

Harris said the acquisition almost felt like opening a new point since they’ve expanded inventory with more new cars, brought back used car sales and added parts and service.

“We’re a fully functioning dealership now,” Harris said.

Harris, along with his father, Scott, and brother David, own the auto group that his grandfather Bill Harris started in 1981.

Aaron Harris is general manager and dealer principal at the family’s three stores, including the Ford dealership and stores selling Chevrolet and Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Ashland, Ohio.

Harris said all three dealerships are about 20 miles apart, so he’s able to visit each of them multiple times a week.

“That was a huge attraction for us,” Harris said.

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