Throwback to 1987: Kearney Gets Chevy Dealer
Originally published in the Kearney Hub Saturday, January 17, 1987
Kearney gets Chevy dealer
By Steve Chatelain
KEARNEY – The Chevrolet logo will be seen above a Kearney automobile dealership for the first time in more than two years when Midway Chevrolet Mazda opens at the site of the present Volkswagen of Kearney dealership.
The new Kearney dealership is scheduled to open Feb. 2 according to Brian Hamilton, co-owner with his wife, Carey of Hamilton Chevrolet Cadillac BMW of Grand Island.
The Hamiltons’ expansion into the Kearney new-car market, a move rumored for several months, was confirmed Friday afternoon. Hamilton, 36, said they finalized details in December with Dale Schuppan, owner of Volkswagen of Kearney, to lease the existing building and lot located at 1115 Second Ave. The lease is for three years.
Hamilton recently received approval of the purchase of the Mazda franchise, which is owned by Volkswagen of Kearney. Volkswagens will not be sold at the new dealership.
The new firm also will sell Chevrolets. Midway Chevrolet will not handle BMW’s, although Hamilton said the dealership will shuttle BMW’s to Grand Island for service. Midway will not sell Cadillac’s because of the existing Cadillac franchise owned by Kearney Buick Cadillac Inc.
Since Kizzier’s closed about two years ago, Kearney had been without a Chevrolet dealership. Hamilton said that void was an important attraction.
“We’ve been trying to do this for over a year,” said Hamilton. “The key was finding a suitable facility. We feel this is a fantastic dealership, the building and personnel.”
Volkswagen of Kearnye had six employees and Hamilton said they have all been offered jobs. He said he hopes to have employment at the Kearney dealership up to 10-15 within a month.
Hamilton said the economic strength of Kearney was also a plus.
“Kearney has shown such growth with Cabela’s, Perkins, the new mall, the downtown beautification project, the increase in students at Kearney State, and the growth out toward the interstate. It’s the fourth largest retail city in the state. It’s ridiculous that there wasn’t a Chevrolet dealership,” he said.
Hamilton said the return of a Chevrolet dealership also is a plus for the area.
“When Chevy closed a guy, say up in Riverdale, would go to Lincoln or even Grand Island, so that he could look at all the car lines. Now that car shopper will be able to find a new Chevy line in Kearney as well as other major car lines,” Hamilton said.
By drawing more people to town to shop for cars, “hopefully it will improve all the dealers’ business.”
Gene Koepke, chairman of the Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce, echoed Hamilton’s comments.
“This is certainly good fortune for Kearney.” Koepke said, “A community the size of Kearney should have all major brands of automobiles.”
“It should have a positive impact on other dealerships.” he said “When people go to make a major purchase, like an automobile, they’re likely to look at all major brands. If someone has to leave Kearney to find a Chevrolet dealership, they’ll look at other brands when they do.”
Hamilton said maintaining the Mazda dealership also is important because it is the only import franchise in Kearney. He said Midway will honor warranty work on Mazdas sold under the old ownership.
Schuppan said his age was a factor in selling out to Hamilton.
“I feel at age 60, I ought to start trimming it down.” he said.
Schuppan who opened the Kearney store in the early 1970s, said he will continue to sell Volkswagens out of his Grand Island dealership. He added that the Grand Island dealership will honor warranty work on Volkswagens sold through Volkswagen of Kearney.
Hamilton said he and his wife have also purchased four acres of land south of the Perkins restaurant at 609 S. Second Ave. which is due to open later this winter. They plan to build a new building on the site in three years to house the Chevrolet dealership. He said the Mazda dealership will remain in the present location at that time.
Hamilton credited Koepke and former chamber board chairman, Brad Kernick, for their assistance during the past year.
“They made a lot of long distance phone calls helping work out the details, he said. “They’re real promoters of the community.”
Hamilton and his wife purchased Hamilton Chevrolet Cadillac BMW five years ago. Prior to that, we was in the trucking business in Bellevue.
Carey Hamilton, the former Carey Lundeen, has roots in this area. Hamilton said her mother, Pat Lundeen formerly lived in Kearney and she is the niece of Max and Barb Burroughs of Kearney.
Brian will be the general manager of Midway Chevrolet Mazda and he said he will be commuting frequently between Grand Island and Kearney.
Jerry King who has sold cars for 15 years at Auto Villa at Holdrege will be moving to Kearney to serve as sales manager Hamilton said.
As of February 2017, Midway employs over 100 employees at three locations. Midway houses eight new car franchises including Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram. Midway Auto Dealerships recently opened Midway Auto Outlet & Collision Center in May 2015 located at the prior Killion Motors dealership.
Midway will like to thank the Kearney community and Central Nebraska for their success over the last 30 years and look forward to serving you in the future!