Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Erdkamp Motors Celebrates 75 years in Business

Ron Koch, Chrysler LLC sales manager for Omaha and Kansas City area pictured on the far left, presents George (middle) and Adam (right) Erdkamp an award recognizing their 75 consecutive years as a Dodge brand dealership.

Erdkamp Motors in Exeter has survived thirteen presidents, multiple wars, several recessions and a major closing of Dodge dealers nationwide. The dealership recently celebrated its 75th anniversary as a Dodge dealer.

As part of the celebration, the Chrysler LLC sales manager for Omaha and Kansas City area, Ron Koch, presented George and Adam Erdkamp an award recognizing their 75 consecutive years as a Dodge brand dealership.

It all began when R. D. Erdkamp started with a franchise for Dodge and Plymouth vehicles in June of 1934 in downtown Exeter. In 1946 after World War II, R.D. moved the business to the current location into buildings he built on East Seneca Street in the 1930’s.

The business has always been in the family with R.D.’s sons, Don, Robert and Leonard joining the dealership in 1946. During that year they also added their current shop on the west end of the building.
In 1964 two of R.D.’s sons, Robert and Leonard, left the business to pursue other ventures and R.D. and Don ran the business alone until Don’s son George joined the dealership. “At that time there were five new car dealerships in Fillmore County,” recalls George, “In 1960 the Dodge corporation split everything up and we were just Dodge.”

The three generations working together was short lived as R.D. passed away at the age of 86 in 1971. In 1982 Don retired and sold the dealership to George and his with Kathy who own and operate the business today.

In 1977 the Chrysler franchise was added with Plymouth back on in 1991 and Jeep and Eagle in 1992. George’s son Adam noted they were at one time “a six line dealership. We had Dodge trucks, Dodge, Jeep, Eagle, Plymouth and Chrysler.” Eagle and Plymouth were phased out in 1998 and 2001 and currently the dealership sells and services Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.

In early 2004 the dealership again became multigenerational as George and Kathy’s son, Adam and his wife Becky, returned to Exeter and Adam joined the family business. He is the fourth generation to be involved in the dealership.

The closing of nearly 800 Chrysler dealerships nationwide this summer definitely made for some tense moments in the dealership, “It was interesting with all the closing. We had some doubts and were hoping it wouldn’t happen. No one knew the formula,” said George.

It may have to do with their motto; “Our goal continues to be to make each customer’s experience as pleasurable and simple as possible. We also strive to provide excellent service after a sale.”

As the lone new car dealership in Fillmore County and one of the few remaining Dodge dealers in the area Erdkamp Motors plans to be around for at least 75 more years. They will host an open house to celebrate their 75 years in dealership on Friday December 4th from 3 - 8 p.m.

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