BLOOMINGTON — After a “superb journey” that lasted 37 years, Brad Barker is promoting his Honda dealership in Bloomington to the O’Brien Auto Team.
The sale ends the Barker own family car dealership legacy that his grandfather, Alden F. Barker, started in Danville in 1915 and moved to downtown Bloomington extra than 70 years ago.
“It’s been a wonderful adventure … But I’m geared up to do something special,” said Barker, sixty-seven.
“It won’t be all golf,” delivered Barker, a famous fixture on the Twin City golfing scene. “I’m on charitable boards, and I may be more active in my church.”
“Will it’s a tough final couple of days? For positive,” Barker stated closing week as he prepared to transport out of his office in anticipation of the sale being finalized at the quit of enterprise on Thursday.
On Friday, the dealership will open below the new call of O’Brien Honda of Bloomington.
“We’re excited about the opportunity,” said Ryan Gremore, co-owner, with Joe O’Brien Jr., of the O’Brien Auto Team that owns four different dealerships inside the Twin Cities.
“The Honda logo is one of the maximum widespread manufacturers in all of car retail. And on the pinnacle of that, Brad has run a reliable business in town and has certainly accurate employees.”
At 1602 GE Road, Brad Barker Honda became established in 1982 on East Oakland Avenue as an offshoot of Barker Motor Co. Brad Barker’s father, Bill, and his uncle, Al, bought Barker Motor Co. From their father in 1956. In 1999, Bill and Al Barker sold Barker Motor Co. Dan Traeger and Tim Johnson saved the name to two longtime personnel, although no Barkers remained connected to the enterprise.
But Brad Barker, his father, and uncle retained ownership of the Honda dealership that moved in 1987 right into a newly-constructed facility at its cutting-edge region. That construction becomes made over in 2001.
“My dad passed ten years ago, and I inherited his stock. I bought Al out three years in the past, so I’ve been the sole owner when you consider that then,” said Brad Barker.
Telling his mother and his uncle that he turned into promoting the business was ” of the maximum hard conversations I’ve had,” however his uncle understood why he desired to retire, said Brad Barker.
“I suppose the long-variety plan changed into for my son, Matthew, to take over the shop to hold the legacy is going, but he’s most effective sixteen years antique, and realistically speaking, it’d be at the least seven years before he’s even equipped to do it. And it’s loads of stress on him to tell him this is something he has to do, and I didn’t want to attend until I am seventy-five years vintage to retire.”
The Honda brand made selling the dealership plenty easier, he stated.
“I ought to have offered it to all and sundry. However, I wanted to promote to anyone who had comparable business ethics that I had for both the customers and our employees,” said Barker, adding he located the “right client” inside the O’Brien organization.
“They are preserving all of my employees who want to live,” said Barker.
Barker’s clients will “see the equal smiling faces when they come in and get their oil-modified or need to buy a vehicle,” stated Gremore. “They may additionally see a few new ones because we plan on developing the enterprise.”
Counting the three years Brad Barker worked as a janitor in high faculty for his father and uncle, he has been in the vehicle enterprise for almost 50 years and selling motors for forty-four years.
“To be sincere with you, I had no purpose of going into the automobile enterprise,” he stated.
After graduating from Bloomington High School in 1970, he went to Illinois State University, where he performed four years on the guys’ golf crew.
Barker turned into running part-time at a bookstall in 1974, and he did not have a car.
“Ironically, Uncle Al leased me a 1974 Cutlass, which turned into the pleasant automobile Oldsmobile made at the time,” Barker recalled. “My payments had been like $three hundred a month, and I changed into handiest making $2 hundred a month. I needed to discover a full-time process, so I started promoting vehicles in 1975.”
By 1979, he’d become a favorite supervisor of the Barker dealership that had extended to 5 traces of vehicles. However, he decided to move to Florida, where he pursued his dream of playing professional golf for numerous years.
“I figured out it wasn’t supposed for me. I spent $50,000 and made $7,000,” he recalled.
After the lower back to Bloomington, Brad Barker Honda opened in 1982 with 12 personnel. It now has forty-five.
“The hardest component may be lacking the relationships with clients and employees,” stated Brad Barker. “I have a few personnel who’ve worked for me for forty or greater years. When I advised the employees … I became teary-eyed. It was tough.”
“I’m heartbroken,” stated mechanic Alex Matthews, who has worked for Barker for forty-two years. “When you have labored with somebody that lengthy, it is difficult to see them move. He’s been certainly properly to us.”
Barker said he could have done something he hasn’t carried out in 44 years — purchase a vehicle when he leaves.