Agency still going sans Chrysler

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

GRIDLEY — Kim Beyer intends to celebrate 60 years of Beyer Motor Company in Gridley this year, but it won’t be quite the same as it would have been.
Earlier this month Beyer learned his agency was one of hundreds throughout the nation to lose its franchise association with Chrysler.
Chrysler, on the brink of bankruptcy and recipient of a substantial federal bailout, is shedding itself of franchises in efforts to make the bottom line more favorable.
Beyer wasn’t surprised that he got “one of the letters.”
His is a small agency in a small town on K-57, a highway that “doesn’t go anywhere.” Gridley is 16 miles by highway southwest of Burlington and 22 miles northwest of Yates Center.
“We average selling about 50 new cars and 150 used cars a year,” Beyer said, a ratio that Chrysler would prefer to have been reversed. Of the used cars, 75 percent have been Chrysler products.
Beyer noted his potential drive-by customers were much fewer than in a large city. But many of his customers are repeat buyers who live nearby or drive to Gridley as a destination.
Shields Motor Co. in Chanute will remain a Chrysler dealership; that was no surprise to Beyer. That a dealer in Lawrence, “a town of 100,000,” was dismissed by Chrysler, was.
“I didn’t see that coming,” he said.
Beyer said he would sell his remaining stock of new vehicles and continue to sell used cars and trucks. He will mix in program cars with those on the lot.
“We will also continue to operate our service department,” he said. “We have three very good people. Our body man has been here 30 years. We have a master technician who has been with us 29 years and a certified mechanic who has been here 10 years. They know what they’re doing and are eager to help our customers.”

BEYER’S father, Willis Beyer, and uncles Vernon and Ivan Beyer, purchased the Gridley car company from Fred Jones in 1949, when it was known as a source of Chrysler, Plymouth and DeSoto automobiles.
“I grew up in it,” Beyer said of the agency. “I liked to clean up cars, tear them apart and then, hopefully, put them back together.”
After graduatiing from Allen County Community College, Beyer spent a couple of years away from Gridley before returning and joining the dealership in 1974; in 1979, he assumed management. He has been at the helm of Beyer Motor Company half of its 60 years.