BOWLING GREEN, Mo. | Bobby Boland, the president of Tom Boland Ford of Hannibal, talked with lots of people during the process of expanding with Boland Chevrolet — consulting with family members, his CPA and mentors along the way.
He said the dealership will allow for expansion and diversification, in an industry with several more vehicle segments and nameplates than there were in 1968. That was the year his late father, Tom Boland, started his dealership. The options for Tom Boland were Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.
General Manager David Buddemeyer, worked at Tom Boland Ford through 2016. He managed Bowling Green Chevrolet before returning to Tom Boland Ford in 2019, and he will oversee the Hannibal and Bowling Green dealerships as a managing partner.
Bowling Green Chevrolet owner Michael Strakes closed the doors to the dealership at the time Buddemeyer departed. Boland knew Buddemeyer was a successful manager in Bowling Green, and they have since reached out to some of the former employees from the dealership.
“People are the biggest part of every equation I'm involved in,” Boland said, noting he plans to hire about 20 employees at the dealership. “If I have the right people, then we can get the job done, and if we don't, then it doesn't work out.”
Boland drives to St. Louis regularly, thinking about how the dealership was in “a great community” and served an ideal market. And its position between Hannibal and St. Louis would allow him to continue his “hands-on” approach.
After discussing his plans, Boland contacted Strakes and set the four-and-a-half month process in motion to obtain the Bowling Green dealership. General Motors set up a rigorous program including verbal contact, an application, two telephone interviews and an in-person interview to determine how everything would work out. The application process focused heavily on being involved in the community and assessing Boland's character, along with topics like financial stability.
Boland has a family connection to Bowling Green through his father-in-law, Gene Hall. Hall coached the 1962 Bowling Green High School basketball team to the state championship.
“I had lunch down there with him last week, and every place he walked in it was like 'Hi Coach, Hi Coach,'” Boland said.
From the moment the grass was mowed and the power was turned back on at the dealership, several residents shared positive and welcoming comments with Boland. He worked with Steve Walker of ABS Powerwashing, who used three power washers from 4:30 p.m. on a Friday until 2:30 a.m. the next morning on the building and concrete. Cleaning crews and painters will work in coming weeks to “give it a little TLC.”
Boland will close on the property in September and the franchise closing with GM will follow soon after. Factory shutdowns caused by the pandemic earlier in the year resulted in lower inventory for Ford and GM. So far, he plans a start date of Dec. 1 to get an array of new vehicles on the lot.
“They called me on a Thursday evening at 6:30 with the final GM approval and I said 'I'm really excited,'” Boland said. “And they said, 'Well we are too.”