Westfield resident Rex Gingerich learned from an early age the importance of developing relationships and providing excellent service. Today, as CEO of Chariot Automotive Group, he holds the same values he saw his father and uncle exhibit when he was a boy. Those lessons have enabled him to lead and grow Chariot Automotive Group, the parent company of McGonigal Buick GMC Cadillac in Kokomo, Button Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Kokomo, Academy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Tipton, Twin City Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Lafayette, and Chariot Buying Center in Kokomo.
“In the 1950s my dad, Ivan Gingerich, and my uncle, Fenton Gingerich, began working for Harry McGonigal at his Buick Cadillac dealership,” Gingerich says. “Later they became partners in the business. My uncle kept a card on every customer. He wrote down their name, birthday and family members’ birthdays. Then he sent cards to all. By the early ‘60s, he never waited on a stranger. For the rest of his career, it was all repeat business and referrals.”
While growing up, Gingerich loved hanging out and working at the McGonigal dealership. However, he didn’t get to drive around Kokomo showing off a new car. His grandfather was Amish and his dad brought him up the old-fashioned way. His first car was used.
“I’m thankful for my dad’s old-fashioned ways because it taught me a lot,” he says. “My first job was cleaning and detailing cars, so I took pride in my used one. I worked early to late, six days a week. Later, my uncle talked to my dad on my behalf to help me get a new car. I was touched that my uncle thought enough about me to do that. I definitely had to earn my way. In 1995 I became a partner in the McGonigal dealership by buying a non-family [member] out. I had to go to the bank plus use money I had earned to do it. I was given the opportunity, but I was ready for it. I’ll never forget how hard my dad worked and how he taught me there is nothing like a hard day’s work.”
In 2005, as a result of relationships that had been built through a number of years, Gingerich had the opportunity to become a partner at the Button location. In 2008 the company became a Chrysler dealer, and one year later it began selling Jeep and Ram vehicles. Recently the Button team celebrated its 90th anniversary. The milestone was possible due to the commitment that the leadership has continually sustained to its employees, customers and community.
The newest member of the Chariot family is Academy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Tipton. The leaders at the location are dedicated to taking excellent care of customers just like at this Montgomery County Dodge Dealership. One example is a concierge car service. The dealership’s close proximity to the north side of Indianapolis makes it attractive to many.
“From Westfield it’s just 14 minutes up U.S. 31, and it’s such an easy drive with very little traffic,” Gingerich says. “Chrysler wanted a dealership in our area and thought Tipton would be a good location. It’s great to drive around Westfield and see our logo on many cars.”
The logo was designed to reflect strength and confidence in the past, present and future. The word “Chariot” is a nod to Gingerich’s Amish roots. The script font of the Chariot logo is an homage to Ivan and Fenton, and the way they conducted business.
“The retail auto industry has changed a lot over the years,” Gingerich says. “Technology is huge, and you can’t work on a car today until you hook it up to a computer. Social media has changed how people buy cars. Someone can buy a car online by just the push of a button, without ever even seeing the car. But we feel people love relationships. People like to do business with people they like and trust. We put a strong emphasis on a personal touch. Our customers can talk to us in person or call us up. We feel a big value that we bring to our clients is how hard we work for them.”
Academy Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram is located at 6002 West Field Drive in Tipton. For more info, call 765-415-4101 or visit academyjeep.com. Learn more about Chariot Automotive Group at drivechariot.com.
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