City Times Staff
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Wheelers Chevrolet of Wisconsin Rapids opened their new store to the public with a Grand Opening celebration in Wisconsin Rapids on Thursday, April 12.
Elite General Motors (GM) leadership was be on hand to help celebrate, including Detroit based Maurice Williams, who took on the critical role as General Manager for sales support with GM. He oversees teams throughout the United States responsible for order fulfillment, dealer business development, dealer diversity initiatives and operations support for Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac.
The Wheeler Family’s initiative has been “putting Rapids back together” by acquiring the two GM brands in September 2015, first purchasing Neuville Buick from former owner Dick Neuville. Next, Ann Wheeler reached out to Lenny and Larry Ironside to purchase Ironside GMC. This brought the two franchises together for the first time in Wisconsin Rapids, creating an alignment with the market for General Motors and paving the way for the return of the third
GM brand, Chevrolet.
Chevrolet was actually acquired from Wehrs in Bangor, Wisconsin. The Wehrs family had decided to focus their business on trailer sales rather than Chevrolet. Ann Wheeler and her children met with Mr. Wehrs and decided to move the franchise to Wisconsin Rapids, happily and strategically bringing the Chevrolet brand back to the city. With the down turn of the economy in 2008, Wisconsin Rapids is a market Chevy had left behind.
Because of logistics and GM requesting two separate dealerships to serve the different clientele with each brand in Wisconsin Rapids, separate Chevrolet and Buick GMC facilities were born. In order to build two completely autonomous stores to operate and a new state-of-the-art auto collision repair center, the Wheeler Family’s plans would indeed require a large area of land.
The west side of Wisconsin Rapids seemed to be the perfect fit. Ann Wheeler and her children purchased Hank’s Auto Repair next to Ironside GMC, both formerly located on West Grand Avenue, across from Kwik Trip, in 2016.
The completion of the Chevrolet store in Wisconsin Rapids is the first phase of three for the west side of Wisconsin Rapids. Phase two, the deconstruction of the current auto collision center (currently sitting between the two dealerships) is anticipated to begin in spring of 2019. The new auto body repair shop will be located on the far east side of the nine-acre property, giving body shop manager Kim McCarthy and his expert team a beautiful place to fix and repair vehicles.
After the completion of the collision center, Wheelers plans to begin phase three. Wheelers Buick GMC currently sits in the formerly known Ironside GMC building. A remodel is to be expected, giving the store a fresh, new, updated look to better serve our Wisconsin Rapids community.
In the middle of the current Chevrolet project, the Wheeler family suffered the loss of their matriarch. A huge blow for the family, Ann Wheeler passed unexpectedly in March of 2017. Unfortunately, Ann was not able to see her dream come true. She was undoubtedly a visionary and an automotive pioneer. She had a dream for the Wisconsin Rapids community, and her children and employees have made it their mission to fulfill that dream, even if it would have to be without her.
Mary Jo Wheeler-Schueller, daughter of Ann Wheeler and President for Wheelers Family Auto Group:
“Our mother’s vision for Wisconsin Rapids is truly cherished and we are happy and excited to bring Chevrolet back to this community.”
“Chevrolet is recognized as the most awarded, fastest growing brand over the last four years. To have this brand here locally for consumers to enjoy is wonderful!” says Daniel Wheeler, VP and son of Ann Wheeler.
For more information about The Wheelers Family Auto Group please visit www.wheelergm.com