TONASKET – Emphasizing a desire to bring more business to Tonasket as well as increasing community involvement, a new management team is hoping to bring some of the old spark to OK Chevrolet.
The auto dealership has been sporting an “under new management” sign on its facade since early March, and that won’t be the end of changes customers will notice.
“We’re going to do some remodel work in the showroom,” says new General Manager Wes Heinsma. We plan to expand our lot. We’ve got some stuff in the works. We’ll bulk up on some inventory so there’s better selection.”
Heinsma has been working at Sunrise Chevrolet in Omak since 2009, but saw an opportunity in Tonasket.
“It’s still owned by the same ownership,” he says. “(Tony Booth) still owns it out of Colville; Jason’s a partner, too. I’m hoping to become a partner here in the future. that’s one of the reasons I made the move north.”
Heinsma made a number of moves right away, including fellow Sunrise employee Angie Gavin, a lifelong Tonasket resident, to make the business move with him as his sales and finance manager, and hiring former GM Rich Fewkes to his sales staff. Katy Duchow is also a new face in the front room, handling internet support and sales.
“We want to get established with the community, support the community and keep as much as we can local,” Heinsma says. “We support the rodeo. We want to get more involved with the schools and their programs. We want to be in with the community in general. Joining the Chamber, trying to figure out what’s actually going on in town all the time.”
Heinsma, currently a single dad with four daughters high school age and older, is planning on making the move to Tonasket permanent.
“My daughters are at a good age for me to do something like this,” Heinsma says. “so my main energy is going to be focused here.”
Gavin, who formerly managed Omak’s Koala Bar and Grill and had been at Sunrise for about a year and a half, said that making the move “home” was an easy choice for her.
“I’ve been making that commute for eight years,” Gavin says. “When Wes brought the idea to me, it was like, ‘Boom, yes I’ll go.’
“My parents have done so much for me the past eight years, driving back and forth. They were taking the kids to practices, cooking them dinner. They were seeing them more than me. Now can see them an hour and a half more a day, and actually be their mom again.”
Gavin says she shares Heinsma’s business philosophy.
“Coming home, working in the home town, just bringing business back home again is our main goal,” she says. “There are cars that we just don’t get in these stores. So if we don’t have it, we’ll find it for you. Whether it be at one of our sister stores, in Tacoma, in Montana, we’ll go get it for you.”
Fewkes has been mostly retired since the the sale of the former Hedlund Chevrolet to Booth in 2009, but was eager to return to the shop at which he was general manager for 26 years.
“Wes looks at the local community the way we used to,” Fewkes says. “It just seemed like a good time, because he’s for real. To me, he is a great guy and that’s why I came back.”