Eagle Chevrolet Buick GMC-lighter.jpg

Danny Purdy, left, and general manager Paul Cleaver in the showroom of the Eagle Chevrolet, Buick, GMC dealership formerly known as Fannin’s. (Photo by Stephanie Ockerman)

There are big changes coming for Eagle Chevrolet, Buick, GMC.

Formerly owned by and known as Larry Fannin’s dealership, the longtime business was officially purchased by Marty and Theresa Johnson of Lexington on Feb. 28.

Fannin, 76, who retired after operating the business for more than 50 years and his father for years before that, will still have a presence onsite.

Paul Cleaver, new general manager, says one of the biggest changes will be an abundance of new stock.

“We really want to bring the store back to life with a lot of inventory,” he said.

Cleaver has kept up with Morehead and has been involved in the Morehead State community since he attended MSU.

He is a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and lived on the top floor of Cartmell Hall, which he can see from the dealership at 329 East Main Street.

He has personal relationships with ex-MSU coaches Wayne Martin, Kyle Macy and Donnie Tyndall and always attends MSU’s annual fundraising gala.

But it his business acumen in the motor vehicle industry that brings him back to Morehead.

Cleaver has more than 40 years of management experience. He ran Freedom Dodge in Lexington for 22 years and managed an eight-franchise automall in Florida.

Cleaver says the Johnsons knew of the success of the local Tim Short dealership and wanted to expand their interests here.

Eagle will focus on local buyers, according to Cleaver.

“We’re not going to go after the Lexington market,” he said. “We’re going to take care of Morehead and the surrounding areas such as Olive Hill, Grayson, West Liberty, Owingsville,” he said.

Eagle is keeping the budget lot and will have up to 300 new and used vehicles on the main lot when the business gets up and going.

There are plans to move the service department parking lot, offer more finance options, invest in computers for the maintenance shop, purchase a new front end alignment machine and add a tool room.

Employees are working on the company’s website and internet services so online inquiries might not be answered right away.

Cleaver insists the renovations will not be reflected in customer costs.

“We will stay within our budget so we can offer good deals to customers,” he said.

All the technicians and parts people are still employed at Eagle, but attrition over the last six months has created the need for hiring new salespersons.

“We want to let everyone know we’re open for business,” Cleaver said.

He squashed the rumor of the east end truck lot becoming home to an Applebee’s after an off-the-cuff remark from Martin Johnson that the site would make a great location for the restaurant.

The Johnsons own several hotels/motels, 23 Applebee’s and a security company, among other investments. But the parking lot will be dedicated to showcasing some of that new inventory, to be seen while driving along the US 60 bypass or near Dairy Queen.

“We’re going to be a car dealership,” Cleaver said.

Stephanie Ockerman can be reached at sockerman@themoreheadnews.com or by