Longtime Urbana auto dealer sold to SVG Motors

A growing chain of car dealerships recently stepped in to buy one of the longest-running family owned businesses in Urbana, with plans to add additional employees and renovate the business.

SVG Motors, an auto dealer with locations in Dayton, Eaton and Greenville, has purchased Trenor Motors for an undisclosed price.

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The Urbana company started when Clement Trenor and his two brothers purchased a Chevy business in 1926 and started the operation on West Court Street. Roger Tehan, the company’s former owner, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Steve VanGorder, president of SVG Group, said the deal has been in the works for two years. He said he plans to add about 15 employees and remodel the lot and showroom.

“I’m excited about investing some dollars in a large inventory and we’re going to spend some serious dollars in advertising,” VanGorder said. “What was once spent in a year, we’ll spend every month. I’m serious about having a Chevrolet store in the market and I think GM’s products right now are as good as they’ve ever been.”

The Internet has changed the way people shop for vehicles, he said, and prices will be competitive in Urbana.

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“Most of our customers, they’re not shopping like they once did where they drive through the lot and look at cars,” VanGorder said. “They’re shopping at home in their pajamas on their computer. In order to be successful in today’s market, your prices have to be competitive otherwise they’re not going to bother calling you.”

Even though the deal was just recently finalized, work has already begun to remodel. Workers are already seal-coating the lot and the showroom will be remodeled, including adding a new floor.

“Thirty days from now you might not recognize the place,” VanGorder said. “We’re going to invest some money making it more something you might see in a dealership in the 2000s. There’s some appeal to the look of the place but GM is holding all their dealers to a higher standard and we want this to be a comfortable experience for everybody that comes into the dealership.”

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The former Trenor Motors has been at its current location at 1100 Scioto St. since 1967, according to the business’ website. Roger Tehan Sr. took over the family business from his father-in-law and it eventually passed on to his son.

Its location was one of the keys to the transaction, VanGorder said.

“I would argue where this property lies was strategically positioned intentionally because it’s the most valuable piece of real estate in Champaign County,” Van Gorder said. “Both of the highly traveled roads that go in and out of Urbana pass right by on either side of us. It’s a nice big lot and it allows for expansion if the economy or the market calls for it.”

VanGorder has a long history in the auto industry himself. He started as a salesman and worked for the Jeff Schmitt Auto Group for about 20 years.

He said he didn’t plan on being in the car business growing up. Instead, he wanted to be an oceanographer. But he’s since fallen in love with the auto industry.

“This is a fun business,” VanGorder said. “We get to meet new people. Buying a car is a fun experience for most people and we get to be a part of that.”

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