Toyota official Bob Carter had a special gift for Lewis Toyota President Jim Lewis on Tuesday.


     Toyota official Bob Carter had a special gift for Lewis Toyota President Jim Lewis on Tuesday.
     The group vice president and general manager gave Lewis a ceremonial Japanese sword, carrying on a longstanding tradition of presenting the sword from automaker to dealer. The gift symbolized the strength of the partnership between the Lewis family and Toyota.
     "I really want to thank you for the time you've put into the franchise and for what you've done with it," Carter said. "From Toyota's perspective, we really hold you in high regard. We appreciate everything that you and your family have done."
     Lewis told the Globe he had heard about the sword before, but he didn't know anything of its history until now.
"I was pretty honored," he said. "And then having Mr. Carter — the senior group vice president of Toyota — come all the way here from LA today was pretty special."
     Lewis Toyota celebrated its grand reopening after a monthslong renovation designed to make the dealership more appealing to customers. The 25,800-square-foot dealership includes an expanded showroom, a customer lounge and a service area featuring 16 high-tech service bays.
     The roughly $2.5 million renovation was modeled after other Toyota dealerships across the country and was part of the automaker's Image USA II campaign.
     "The project was something we needed to do to add more service capacity, more sales capacity," Lewis said. "The building's going to be more efficient today than our old building."
     Carter said Toyota was working with owners to upgrade their dealerships but left the interior decor up to them. He added that he was pleased with Lewis Toyota's new look.
     "This doesn't feel like an automotive waiting room," he said during an interview in the customer lounge. "It feel more like a high-end law firm or medical facility."

     Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or email him at eric.swanson@dodgeglobe.com.