BOWLING GREEN—Bobby Boland was taken aback when he learned Bowling Green Chevy closed so abruptly. Back in February, the dealership seemed to be running along just fine, and the next day, car carriers arrived to load up the inventory and the doors slammed shut leaving a lot of the staff stunned.
“I didn’t think it could shutter it that way,” Boland said during a phone interview last week. “They proved me wrong.” It was the previous owner’s prerogative, but that’s not how you should treat a community; to go out in the middle of the night like that, he said.
Boland owns the Ford dealership in the Hannibal market—Tom Boland Ford. That dealership is named after his father, Tom. It has been in the family for 53 years. Bobby has been associated with the business for about 30 years.
Boland said he’s been interested in the Bowling Green property, which sits out by the highway just off of E. Champ Clark Drive, for a while. It will take a few more months before the dealership’s doors can open again. Before that can happen, Boland explained, his company has to close on the property first and shortly after that, close the deal with General Motors. Bobby lost his father in 2018, so when he was going through the process of acquiring the Bowling Green dealership he would ask himself, “What would Tom say, would he approve or disapprove. And I think he would have approved of this.”
“We are going to close on the property at the end of this month,” he said, “and then we will close with General Motors a few days after that. Then it will be a 60 to 90 process. I’m hoping to be open and in business by Dec. 1.”
He noted that he is not allowed to order inventory from GM until after he has secured the property.
“Inventory is really scarce right now,” he added, “because of the pandemic and factories closing down.”
Selling GM cars and trucks, he noted, would give his company more product diversity.
Even though the process takes a while, Boland said he’s really excited about opening a dealership in Bowling Green. He’s wanted to expand south for some time, but not so far from his current base of operations that he couldn’t drive and visit all the dealerships in one day.
“I’m a real hands-on dealer, and this way I could be in both stores daily,” he said. “I’ve been to Bowling Green several times, and everyone there has been so nice to me,” he added. People have welcomed him and thanked him for making this move, he added.
He’s hoping to staff the dealership with people who had worked there before.
“It’s an interesting scenario,” Boland said. “David Buddemeyer, the general manager of the Chevy dealership when it closed earlier this year, had been general manager at Boland’s Hannibal dealership a few years before that.
“He was my general sales manager from 2011 to 2016, when he became the general manager of Bowling Green Chevrolet,” Boland said. “And in 2019, I rehired him as general manager of Tom Boland Ford. He will be my managing partner of Boland Chevrolet” when it opens later this year. He would also continue to oversee the operation in Hannibal, too.
“My goal is to hire everyone that I can from Bowling Green,” he said. For people who have waited for Chevy and GM to come back to this town, they will probably see a lot of familiar faces once the doors open again.
“A lot of previous employees have reached out to us already,” he said.
“I really want to be part of the community there,” he added. “I don’t want be known as the dealer from Hannibal.
He’s done business in Pike County for a while, but this is the first time he’ll be selling new Chevy and GM vehicles and products.