Grays Harbor Honda in Aberdeen
When John Csernotta talks about why he decided to buy the Honda dealership in Aberdeen and move here with his wife from California he can summarize his many reasons in two short words.

The people.

A veteran of the automotive industry – including leadership roles at both Ford Motor Company and JD Power and Associates – Csernotta decided to come out of retirement after a few months of traveling and remodeling his house.

“I missed the challenge of working and the opportunity to be a part of a community,” he noted. “I knew I was done with the brutal travel schedule but also knew I was ready for a new challenge.”

Moving to Aberdeen, however, almost didn’t happen.

“I’ve known the former owner for a few years,” Csernotta said. “He’s a great guy and I knew he wanted to spend more time on his farm and less time in his dealership. And Honda dealerships don’t come available very often.”

Csernotta explained that of approximately 1,100 Honda dealerships in the country, very few change hands in any given year. They are recognized in the auto industry as an incredibly valuable asset and Csernotta considered himself fortunate that the opportunity came up for him to consider purchasing the dealership in Aberdeen.

But when he first came to Aberdeen to visit the store and get a sense of the community, he initially hit pause on the idea.

“We drove in and were a bit concerned about the surface appearance of some parts of town,” Csernotta admitted. “If I’m being completely honest, we weren’t sure we could make the transition from sunny California to a town that looked like it needed some help. But I also knew that you can never judge a book by its cover, so we stayed in town for a week and in that time, the community captured our hearts.”

Csernotta was struck first by the way people embraced him and his wife. Everywhere they went people were kind, helpful, and considerate. It reminded them of the small towns they both grew up in as kids. Instead of seeing a town in need of repair, he began to see a town filled with opportunity and potential.

The deal was sealed in Csernotta’s mind when he called the local mayor’s office, just to introduce himself and explain that he was considering purchasing an undisclosed business in town. Leaving a message, he didn’t really think he’d hear back from the mayor. But to his surprise he got a call from the mayor the next day – even though he was traveling on city business in China.

“When that call came in from China, and considering the time difference, I knew that the town had leadership to realize its potential and my wife and I decided we wanted to be a part of it,” Csernotta said.

On October 4, he closed on the deal and since then has been working to revitalize the store and engrain himself in the community.

In the few months since Csernotta and his wife arrived, they have participated in the Grays Harbor Hospital Gala, the Greater Grays Harbor Awards Banquet, and joined the Rotary. Community members and business leaders have reached out and embraced them, welcoming the couple and helping them join the momentum that is building to revitalize Grays Harbor.

Csernotta noted the Aberdeen Revitalization Movement (ARM), the recent TimberWorks flood restoration plan that will save millions in flood insurance fees improving property values, as well as the Gateway Center as examples of momentum he sees contributing to the future of the region.

“I’m confident that in 10 years this community is going to be dramatically different,” Csernotta said. “People may not always give the town that extra week we did to learn about how great it is today, but there are things happening here that are going to help change that first impression so that they do. My wife and I can’t wait to be a part of the future of Grays Harbor.”