Charlie Wright, who co-owns Jack O'Diamonds with his half brother John Dimond, ceremoniously broke ground with others involved in the project.
Jack O'Diamonds, 2500 WSW Loop 323, carries two new car lines — Honda and Lincoln. Dirt work on the new Honda dealership next door, at 2600 WSW Loop 323, began last week, Wright said. He hopes to move into the more than 31,000-square-foot, $3.3 million facility before Christmas.
Wright said when they started the project about two years ago, Honda stopped them from going ahead with the construction because they were launching a new design plan. “It brought everything to a stop,” he said. “We redesigned it. Frankly, we're excited about that.”
He said the new design will be more modern and energy efficient. The customer experience will change because of the way the new facility is designed — from the show room to the service waiting area. The employees also will have a more comfortable experience, with an air conditioned shop, he added.
The new full-service dealership will offer an increased inventory of new Hondas, as well as certified pre-owned Hondas. The existing 30,000-square-foot facility will be a pre-owned super center, along with selling new Lincolns. Wright said most of his 52 employees will move over to the new facility when it opens and they will hire about six more.
“We're off to a very strong start,” Wright said of Honda sales this year. The most popular seems to be the 2013 Honda Accord Sport, he added.
Wright and Dimond own the family business that was started by their late mother, Doris, and Wright's stepfather, Jack Dimond III. The elder Dimond was president of a steel-casing company in Shreveport when he and his wife moved to Tyler in 1969 and bought what was then Tyler Lincoln Mercury, acquiring the Honda franchise to add to the dealership in the late 1970s.
Mrs. Dimond worked at the dealership every day, greeting customers, acting as cashier and working in the office, Wright said. His mother passed away in 1997 and after his stepfather died in 2004, Wright and his brother took over the business.
Dimond has worked in the business for more than 30 years, starting out at his parent's dealership when he was a teenager.
Wright had a much different background. He was raised in Louisiana while Dimond spent most of his childhood in Tyler. Other than working at Jack O'Diamonds for a couple of months in the late 1980s, Wright had limited experience in the car business. Wright was an ordained Southern Baptist minister, spending 24 years in ministry, 12 as a pastor. He changed careers, working in sales training for American Airlines for more than 10 years. When his stepfather died, he started coming to Tyler from Dallas once a week to help Dimond, but ended up taking an early retirement from American Airlines to work at the dealership full-time, he said.