Local car leasing company closes

MARIETTA – The lot has been cleared and the doors have been closed for a longtime downtown Marietta business.

MKB Leasing, located at 118 Second St., closed Dec. 31 after more than 20 years of service. The company provided car leasing and rental options, said Paul Bertram III, who now co-owns the business with his brother.

“It was kind of fortuitous, the timing. Most of the leases have wrapped up,” he said.

Those leases that have time remaining are still being handled, he said.

Though the business has existed as a leasing and car rental company for just over 20 years, the company actually represents a Marietta car history much lengthier than just that, said Bertram.

The business started at its present location in the late 1970s as New Weihl Olds, an Oldsmobile dealership, he said.

The company recently sold off more than 30 cars and is now selling the building at 118 Second St.

The official last day of business was Dec. 31, though a handful of active leases are still being handled.

About a decade later, local businessmen Darrell Marshall, Bob Kelly and Bertram’s father, Paul Bertram Jr. expanded the business to include leasing options and named it MKB Leasing, named for their the first letter of each man’s last name.

Bertram’s father, who recently passed, had bought the business in its entirety in the mid-1990’s, he said.

“The basic reason MKB is closing is because of my dad’s passing,” said Bertram.

Bertram acts as Marietta’s city law director and runs a private law practice. His brother, an airline pilot, is in and out of the country.

“Really it’s too time consuming to run,” he said.

Though it marks the end of an era, the timing feels appropriate, said Bertram.

“I think it’s fitting that the business closed as my father’s life closed,” he said.

Over the past month, the company has sold and auctioned more than 30 vehicles that were previously used for leasing and car rental purposes.

“Each time we lose a business, it’s one less reason for somebody to come into the downtown area,” said Charlotte Keim, president and CEO of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce.