Matheny Motors looks to continue its decade of growth - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Matheny Motors looks to continue its decade of growth

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Mike Matheny, left, and Tim Matheny recall how Matheny Motors began in 1922 in Parkersburg and has expanded in the past 10 years. Mike Matheny, left, and Tim Matheny recall how Matheny Motors began in 1922 in Parkersburg and has expanded in the past 10 years.
Mike Matheny, left, and Tim Matheny stand in the showroom of Matheny Motors. Mike Matheny, left, and Tim Matheny stand in the showroom of Matheny Motors.

It's been a decade of growth for Matheny Motors, and more is coming.

The company has opened or acquired operations in the Washington, D.C., Nitro and Kenova areas since 2007, and company President Tim Matheny has his eyes on more markets both in state and out.

"Since I've been in it since 1991, we've had steady growth every year," Matheny said.

That was true even during the recent recession, he said.

Some niches within the business did well, and the company managed to avoid having lay anyone off, he said.

91 years

What is now Matheny Motors started in 1922 as a business selling trucks and farm equipment, said Mike Matheny, Tim's father and company CEO. At the time, the farm equipment was a bigger seller, as many roads in the area were not good. Matheny said a former state secretary of transportation told him that up past World War II, the road from Ravenswood to Parkersburg was still gravel.

But roadbuilding picked up in the 1950s just as the farm equipment business was declining, so Matheny Motors dropped the farm machinery and went all in with trucks.

There were a few diversions. In the early 1950s, the business sold Hudson and Kaiser cars for a while.

"We just weren't car people. We were truck people," Mike Matheny said. "We actually didn't get back in the car business until 1998 when we took on Buick. It's been a good marriage ever since."

After Matheny Motors began selling Buicks, it added the Pontiac, Suzuki and Daewoo lines for a while, but those are all gone. Today the location in downtown Parkersburg sells new Buick cars and GMC trucks.

Unlike some other cities in West Virginia, Parkersburg's car dealers have stayed in the downtown area rather than leaving for new locations along a four-lane highway.

"All the car dealers in the Parkersburg area stayed where they are. They all have rebuilt and put new places where they were," Mike Matheny said.

That works out well for car buyers because one dealer cannot have a sale without other dealers noticing and having to respond, he said.

Four Generations

Mike Matheny said he is the third generation of the family in the business, and Tim and his sister, Marni Kepple, are the fourth.

"I'm just an employee now. I cut my hours from 12 a day to 11. That's part of my retirement package," Mike Matheny said.

Mike Matheny said he had a talk with his son and daughter several years ago saying he understood if they didn't want to join the family business right away, but they would always be welcome to come back.

Tim Matheny didn't start out looking for a spot in the company. He was thinking about a career in the financial services industry while he was attending the University of Indiana. While there, he got a job at the Carpenter school bus manufacturing company.

At the time, school boards in West Virginia could bid the school bus bodies and chassis separately and have a winning bidder assemble them, Mike Matheny said. Matheny Motors sold GMC chassis, and with Tim's input it decided to add Carpenter bodies. But GM got out of the bus chassis business, and Carpenter went out of the school bus business. So Matheny sold Blue Bird buses until 2003, when it switched to Thomas Built, a division of Freightliner.

Along the way, Tim's job in Indiana persuaded him to join the family business.

The fifth generation might join the company someday, but that's not certain, Tim and Mike Matheny said.

Future Plans


Matheny Motors added an operation at the Kanawha County community of Nitro, just off Interstate 64, last March. In December, it acquired the assets of McCoy Freightliner, along U.S. 52 near the Wayne County town of Kenova.

Tim Matheny said hopes the Kenova site can take advantage of the rail-truck cargo container transfer facility being built along Norfolk Southern tracks near the Wayne County community of Prichard. The site is along Norfolk Southern's Heartland Corridor, which is used by container trains traveling from Norfolk through Roanoke, Va., Prichard and Columbus, Ohio, to Chicago.

Matheny's Freightliner operation at Kenova is the closest heavy truck sales and service facility to Prichard.

"Obviously with hundreds of trucks going in and out, there should be some of our services needed to keep those trucks going," Tim Matheny said.

Tim Matheny also sees expansion opportunities in the coal and gas industries, especially shale gas in the northern part of the state. That can be seen by the water tanker trucks sitting on the company's heavy truck lot at Mineral Wells, along Interstate 77 just south of Parkersburg. The trucks are used to haul fresh water to well sites and used, contaminated water out.

Matheny Motors expects to open a new operation in the next 12 to 18 months. It could be in the Clarksburg area to service the gas drilling industry, or it could in the Beckley-Bluefield area to service the coal industry, Tim Matheny said.

"Obviously coal is a challenge, but oil and gas is holding its own right now. But for us it's growing," he said.

Clarksburg is only 70 miles from Parkersburg, and it's a natural fit for the business, he said.

"We have a lot of customers over there and a lot of employees over there selling parts," he said.

The company has a strong presence on interstates 77 and 64. Being in Clarksburg would open more opportunities on the Interstate 79 corridor, Tim Matheny said.

And in the next year or tow, Matheny Motors would like to add a towing recovery equipment operation in the Cincinnati area, he said.