PERRY TWP. ‒ “Little Detroit” will soon be managed by a family-owned car dealership based in western Pennsylvania.
Waikem Auto Family, with six dealerships along Lincoln Way E, is being sold to Diehl Automotive, based in Butler, Pennsylvania, according to unofficial reports.
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Neither company will comment on the reports, which have been circulating since last week.
Filings with the Ohio Secretary of State’s office show Diehl plans to open Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Kia dealerships as Diehl Automotive of Massillon. The six brands match those sold at Waikem locations.
While agreements have been reached, the deal is not expected to be finalized until October, according to sources.
The Waikem Auto Family got its start in 1957 when George Waikem Sr. purchased a Ford dealership in Massillon. The dealership opened a showroom at 4321 Lincoln Way E early in 1973 and eventually dubbed the location “Little Detroit” in its advertising.
Waikem’s three sons — George known as “Chip,” Doug and David — all worked with the company as it grew and added different auto brands. The dealerships operate from five locations along Lincoln Way E.
Diehl Automotive is based in Butler, Pennsylvania, where it operates Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volkswagen dealerships. Other locations are in McKees Rock, Grove City, Moon, and Hermitage, Pennsylvania. The company in 2018 acquired Diehl Automotive of Salem, which specializes in the Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram brands.