Employees at an Orillia car dealership are in for a warmer winter.
After spending parts of last year working out of a trailer, Dalt’s Honda Orillia staffers can now enjoy the warmth of their completely renovated workspace.
The long-time dealership officially kicked off its next chapter Thursday afternoon with a grand reopening to celebrate its new digs.
“We did a huge renovation both inside and out,” Dalt’s general manager Michael Ouderkirk said, noting the renovation was originally planned to be purely aesthetic, but they decided to go with a complete rebuild.
“Everything’s nice and shiny and new. We’re also celebrating 50 years of Honda in Canada. Dalt’s was one of the first Honda dealerships in Canada.”
Originally started by Ouderkirk’s grandfather, Dalton Ouderkirk in Toronto, the Orillia dealership was added in 1978 on a lot near where the Orillia Bakery now stands. It is now the only Dalt’s Honda in Canada.
History is important to the company, according to Ouderkirk, who pointed out the first 1973 Honda Civic sold in Canada sits proudly in the Memorial Avenue showroom.
The small vehicle was first sold by Dalt's Honda in Toronto. It was traded in a few years later and then kept in storage before being displayed at the Toronto store and eventually finding its way up Highway 11 to its current home.
“It was the smallest vehicle on the road at the time,” Ouderkirk said, noting it came out at a time when giant gas guzzlers were the norm. “It was a shock to see it. Now, the Honda Civic is the number one seller in Canada for 21 straight years.”
But the '73 Civic still gets around. In 2011, it spent the spring, summer and fall in Ottawa on display at the Canadian Museum of Civilization for their ‘Japan: Tradition. Innovation’ exhibition.
The renovations, meanwhile, began last November and were largely finished by early July. The dealership now features a spacious, well-appointed showroom with huge picture windows that allow lots of natural light. The service bays and office space have also been revamped.
Besides the new physical space, Ouderkirk said he appreciates his many long-time staff members, many of whom have been with Dalt’s for more than 15 years.
“I started out as a wash boy,” he said. “It’s handy because you know about the trials and tribulations (in any position).”
Besides Orillia, the dealership services the surrounding communities of Oro-Medonte, Gravenhurst, Severn as well as other parts of Simcoe County.