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Morton Times-News - Morton, IL
  • Upgrades abound at Lighthouse Auto

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    • Uncovering history
      While construction has been going on at Lighthouse Automotive, a bit of history has been uncovered.


      An ad painted on the building by the original owner has been uncovered and can be seen...
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      Uncovering history
      While construction has been going on at Lighthouse Automotive, a bit of history has been uncovered.



      An ad painted on the building by the original owner has been uncovered and can be seen by drivers on Morton Avenue.



      “We had no idea it was there. When we took the siding off, there it was,” General Manager Bart Rinkenberger said.



      Owner Jeff Grimm said the sign was probably painted in the late 1960s or early 1970s.



      Rinkenberger added another interesting fact about the ad as well deals with the contractor for the project, Zobrist Construction.



      “Phil Zobrist, one of the owners, actually was the guy that covered that when he was a young kid,” he said. “Now, here his company is the one uncovering it and redoing it. It’s kind of a cool dynamic.”
  • Big changes are under way at Lighthouse Automotive.
     
    Both the interior and exterior are undergoing changes that both the staff and General Motors are glad to see happening.
     
    “The whole thing is driven by General Motors, but it’s a perfect scenario for us,” General Manager Bart Rinkenberger said. “We’ve been here 16 years and our facility had become a little bit outdated. Most importantly, it had run out of room.”
     
    The timing of the upgrades also let the additional space left from the moving of the service department be used.
     
    “Every facet of our place was tight. All departments were out of space,” owner Jeff Grimm said.
     
    One of the big additions to the inside of the building will be an actual showroom. Currently, that area is being used for offices.
     
    “Right now, we can’t get a car in our showroom,” Rinkenberger said. “We’re going to be able to have three cars inside so that if it’s a cold, rainy day, people will be able to look at vehicles inside again. It’s been quite awhile since we’ve been able to do that.”
     
    New office space will also be added, along with a second floor to allow room for future growth.
     
    The bathrooms will also be made handicap accessible, along with being able to be used as a storm shelter.
     
    Customers that need to bring their car in for service will now be able to avoid the elements as well before going to the larger waiting room.
     
    “When customers come with their vehicle, and they need to get their vehicle serviced, we’re going to have a place inside where they can park and talk to an advisor,” he said.
     
    On the outside, the look will become more modern with a format that fits other GM dealers.
     
    “GM has a standard format. It’s called the ‘Buick/GMC eyebrow,’” Grimm said.
     
    One thing that will stay the same on the outside is the trademark lighthouse. Rinkenberger said that getting rid of the lighthouse was not an option.
     
    While construction will continue until early next summer, everything should proceed inside as normal due to how the construction is being done.
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    “One of the interesting and unique parts of it is we’re doing it in phases,” Rinkenberger said. “It’s not easy to tell that, but a lot of dealerships are completely abandoning their building. They’ll get a tent or trailer and completely abandon it and work out of there. What we’re doing is staying in here and work while they’re doing it. It’s creating a bit more time, but it’s working.”
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