GOSS MARKS 80 YEARS IN CAR BUSINESS
By Ray Linker
Observer Staff Writer
M.J. Goss Motor Co. has made a Chevrolet dealership work in the small La Grande and Union County market because it learned long ago that the key to success is good service to the customer.
"With the small population base here, service has been the key to this business," said Mark Goss, who officially became the Adams Avenue franchise owner in March 1997.
His grandfather, M.J. Goss, started the business a couple of blocks away, where Wells Fargo Bank now stands, in 1922. Mark's father, also M.J. but known as Bill, took over the business from his father. Bill, 78, still comes to work every day.
Reiterating the service aspect, Mark said, "We put a lot of focus on our service department. And in sales, we get good repeat business. We've built up loyalty of our customers in this small market. We've done a pretty good job of that," Mark said.
"That's why we've survived 80 years," he said. "We've grown our parts inventory more in the last 10 years, too."
The company has held a month-long celebration of marking that milestone. The company held an open house Saturday, featuring the usual hot dogs, beverage, door prizes.
"We've had month-long sales, and now with all the incentives, such as zero interest and huge rebates, our inventory is getting low. We've had a really good summer,'' he said.
Mark Goss said family members haven't been able to find out the exact month the company was started although they know it was in 1922. He doesn't know how many employees it had in the early days.
"The mainstay of the early days was the Studebaker until about 1953, when they dropped Studebaker and added Oldsmobile. Early on, they also had DeSoto, Buick, Pontiac and Plymouth."
It became a Chevrolet dealership in 1940 while retaining Studebaker, he said.
Sales have been steady over the years.
"In La Grande we don't get the highs and lows like you do in a lot of places. Sales are pretty constant," Goss said.
In this rural and agricultural area, truck sales top the list, with sports utility vehicles being good sellers, too.
"Trucks make up the bulk of our sales, about 75 percent to 80 percent," he said.
The dealership was moved to its present location at 1415 Adams Ave. in 1932. In recent months, the company bought the Dolven's Appliances Inc. building when that company went out of business across the street from Goss' main showroom and offices. It now houses such accessories as golf carts.
"We're getting into the accessory business a little heavier now," Goss said.
The company also removed a small sales office on the lot next to that building and paved the lot, where it has some vehicles on display.
Goss figures the company now occupies 28,000 square feet of space. It has 38 employees, including three in sales, others in the body shop, service department and office.
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