The Dieffenbach GM Superstore on East Board Avenue in Rockingham held its grand opening Friday afternoon.
From 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., the dealership gave out free hot dogs and hamburgers and a clown painted faces and made balloon animals for the kids. There were games and a bounce house as well.
Classic Chevrolet cars as well as race cars lined the area in front of the dealership’s new facade.
Previous owner Russell Bennett sold the GM dealership to the Dieffenbach family more than 16 years ago. The GM Superstore is owned by Hank, Danette and Jeff Dieffenbach. Bennett built the dealership, located at 1209 E. Broad Ave. in Rockingham, in 1968 in order to expand his business, which was located in downtown Rockingham before that, Bennett said.
“This has been a fun day,” said Jeff Dieffenbach, store manager. “This has been a great event. Hundreds have come out and it really feels like the whole community is behind us 100 percent.”
Many elected officials and dignitaries came out to the ribbon cutting put on by the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce at 3 p.m., such as former dealership owner, Mr. Bennett, President of the Chamber of Commerce Emily Tucker, Rockingham Mayor Pro tem John Hutchinson and Terry Green, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce.
Ed Ferris of Chevrolet of the Charlotte region presented a plaque to the dealership owners from GM owner Dan Akerson. Upon receiving the plaque, Hank Dieffenbach said he and Danette had met with Akerson and said they felt he shared their visions and dreams for the future of the dealership.
Ferris said he has enjoyed the festivities the dealership put on.
“This is really a model dealership,” said Ferris. “The attention to detail sets it apart from others and I love the flag. As with all dealers, they invested family money into this. They took the vision from our basic idea and had a plan, and they really worked hard to make it come out.”
Danette Dieffenbach said a WWII veteran and an Afghanistan veteran hoisted their new flag up the newly-installed 80-foot flagpole.
Hutchinson spoke as well, and said, “This dealership is worthy of any city in the Carolinas and it’s right here in Rockingham. We’re delighted in this investment.”
Hutchinson, who is known as a history buff, said after some research he learned that next year will be the 75th year the dealership has been established in Rockingham.
Green presented the dealership with a new Chamber of Commerce plaque just before the ceremonial ribbon was cut.
Refreshments were passed out as guests toured the new dealership.
The celebration of the multi-million dollar upgrade to the dealership continues today from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
—Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.