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New truck dealership to open in Belmont County

T-L Photo/ ROBERT A. DEFRANK A Hill International Trucks dealership is under construction west of St. Clairsville and may be open in fall.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Drivers on U.S. 40 just west of St. Clairsville may have noticed a sizable new building being constructed by Hill International Trucks. By this fall, the dealership will have a major presence in Belmont County.

Nicholas Frantzis, marketing manager at Hill International, said the expected completion date for construction could be in September.

“After that’s done, it’ll take us probably a few weeks or a month to move in and get it all up and running,” he said. “That is a $10 million project, that site there in St. Clairsville. It’s all state-of-the-art. … That location, once it’s up and running, immediately that’s going to create up to 40 jobs right off the bat.”

Frantzis said when Hill International opened a new location in Pennsylvania in 2007, it led to the creation of close to 80 jobs, with 40 initially.

“We’re anticipating seeing the same pattern in St. Clairsville,” he said. “Within the next two to three years, if the economy and transportation industry remain strong, we’ll probably see an additional 30 to 40 local jobs.”

Frantzis said the company will be on the lookout for diesel technicians and diesel mechanics.

“One way we’re going to do that, and something we already do around our other locations is building relationships with local high schools, career centers, job placement service centers, and through those places we’re able to find up-and-coming diesel technicians,” he said.

When completed, the company expects to see considerable activity.

“It’s a full-service dealership. What that means is we, of course, do service,” he said. “We’re also going to have a full parts department there. Between those two, we’ll have parts and service for all medium and heavy-duty trucks. We’re an international dealership but we provide parts and service for all makes and models. In addition to parts and service, we also have our roadside assistance team. We have on-site maintenance and we sell new and used trucks and trailers.”

Frantzis said they found a need for services in the area.

“One of the biggest reasons we’re excited about this location is because it’s right there, located along Interstate 70, which is going to allow easy access to the dealership for customers that are traveling on that highway,” he said.

“This is the first Hill International Trucks dealership in Belmont County, but we do have other sister companies in Belmont County that have been established there,” he said.

Frantzis said Hill International is no stranger to Belmont County. He mentioned the Hill Idealease in Martins Ferry, which provides commercial truck and trailer leasing, since 1997, as well as a Napa modern truck and auto parts store that has been in St. Clairsville since 2017. He said the company looks forward to continuing to grow and serve the community.

“We’ve seen some great success with both of those,” Frantzis said. “We have some connections and a small presence in Belmont County, but introducing the Hill International Trucks dealership is really the full weight of our company.”

“Hill International Trucks had their eye on Belmont County for some years,” he said. “We had this in the works. We were planning on moving in on this timeframe.”

Work has been ongoing for close to two years. The pandemic has had an impact on this and other projects.

“I think that’s part of why our construction timeline is a little bit hazy, because I think the construction companies that we’re working with are feeling the impact of that, which is being passed along to us.”

“We’re fortunate to be serving the transportation industry. The transportation industry has been critical through this pandemic and keeps the country on its feet, and so because of how critical the transportation industry has been, we’ve been able to serve that industry. We’ve been able to weather the pandemic to a certain extent. We certainly felt it.”

Port Authority Director Larry Merry said the county has worked with the company toward this project. He is excited about the investment in Belmont County.

“There’s going to be job growth as the operation gets up and running,” he said. “It’s a great project for the community and opens up an area where maybe a couple other projects can happen next to them.”

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