Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Jamie Sangar
Monica Peck and Courtney Cole — the “sisters of savings” — were six generation owners of the Hare Chevrolet dealership. It’s quite a history when you consider the family started out in the horse and buggy business back in 1847.
Several years ago, however, Cole was diagnosed with lung cancer and has since been engaged in a valiant fight for her life. Thankfully, her condition has improved in recent months. Nevertheless, when an offer came in from Asbury Automotive in January to purchase the dealership, she decided that the timing was right as the transfer of ownership would enable her to focus her energies on her health and family. So, in January she and Peck sold the dealership to Asbury Automotive.
“The great thing is that Asbury Automotive has the same core value system that we have — putting the same emphasis on the customer,” says Jason Horack, general manager of Hare Chevrolet for the past 19 years. “As a result, we have not changed our operations at all.”
That starts with the employees, and 99 percent of their 250 employees remain. In fact, Peck and Cole still do the marketing. They’re just not part of the day-to-day operations. Though Asbury Automotive owns 82 dealerships, mostly across the southeast, the owners aren’t interested in transforming their purchases into a corporate dealership in any way. Rather, they like to keep things running the way they always have.
“They didn’t want to interrupt our flow, so we are still Hare Chevrolet, through and through, offering the same value system, the same employees and the same goal of serving the customer base that we always have,” Horack says.
For 15 years running, Hare Chevrolet has been the number one GM dealership in the state of Indiana and that has not changed. Another aspect that has remained unchanged is the dealership’s ongoing commitment to community service.
For years Hare Chevrolet has partnered closely with the Noblesville Boys & Girls Club, regularly donating money to the organization. For instance, Hare Chevrolet sponsored the Boys & Girls Club in the Noblesville Mini Marathon, which runs every spring. This year, the 4th annual event raised $7,500 for the organization. The dealership also has developed a relationship with Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Hare Chevrolet earned $1,000 to donate to the charity of their choice, and they chose to give it to the Boys & Girls Club.
Hare Chevrolet is also the title sponsor for Prevail, an organization that serves victims of crime and abuse in a confidential, supportive, non-judgmental environment.
“It’s an important issue because men, women and children are all victims of domestic abuse,” Horack says.
This month Prevail will host a big fundraising gala, and Hare Chevrolet will give $10,000 to help raise awareness about domestic abuse.
Customers not only appreciate the dealership’s community support but they also are pleased by the seamless shift in ownership because they identify with the people in the building rather than the name on the building.
“Our customers trust the front line people,” says Horack. “They have relationships with our sales people, our service advisers, our technicians. People want to do business with those they trust so the fact that those same faces and names are in still place makes a big difference.”
Carrying that same sense of community and customer service on to the next generation is the dealership’s top priority.
“At the end of the day, the more things change, the more they stay the same,” Horack says. “Our mission hasn’t changed. Our philosophies haven’t changed. We consider ourselves the seventh generation of Hare Chevrolet. Our goal is to be the greatest generation.”