Bob Luegers Motors celebrates 50 years

Photo courtesy Bob Luegers Motors

Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — Bob Luegers Motors is celebrating 50 years in business as a family-owned car dealership.

Bob Luegers, who died in 1981, got his start in the automobile business in 1946 when he began working at Hoffman Brothers in Jasper. He left that company and in 1952 began a partnership with Jack Sternberg — called Luegers-Sternberg, on the southeast side of town where Sternberg’s Collision Center is now. Bob sold his interest in the company to Sternberg in 1961 and went on to acquire the Buick franchise from John Eckert and the Pontiac, GMC and Rambler franchises from Ed Fritch. He combined the four to become Bob Luegers Motors in 1962.

The company’s 50th year was actually in 2012, but the celebration of the anniversary was postponed until the completion of several renovations.

The company is now owned by four of Bob’s five children: Robert, Jeryl, Dave and Mike. A fifth son, 65-year-old Larron, retired in April 2012 after 43 years in sales with the company.

Robert, 70, and Jeryl, 64, take care of the financial management of the company. Dave, 61, is the sales manager, and Mike, 57, is the service director.

All the sons began their work at the dealership washing cars.

“I think when we were kids we were kind of what I would call garage rats,” Jeryl said. “We sort of hung out at the old building downtown and cleaned up cars and helped mechanics. ... We’ve been around the business all our lives.”

The boys’ mother, Lucille, who died in 2003, was never involved in the business, but Jeryl said she often stopped by if she needed to talk with any of them because they all were always there.

After the dealership outgrew its first location at Fifth and Newton streets, it moved to its current
location on Wernsing Road. It has continued to grow over the years, with the addition of a used-car center in the late 1980s as well as enlargements to the service department and body shop. Its most recent change was the renovation of the showroom and the parts and service department at the end of last year.

Jeryl and Dave said the automobile industry has changed a lot over the years. Not only is product quality vastly superior to what it was, but changing technology has forced the business to stay up to date.

“Starting in about the early 1980s we started seeing computers just really transform the business,” Jeryl said. “From the front to the back, from sales to service, just about everything we do is computerized.”

Dave said the internet has had a big effect on how cars are sold.

“You can sell cars far away now, which you couldn’t do before,” Dave said. “We’ve had people come in from very far away because of Internet searches, some as far as Colorado and the East Coast.”

This means the dealership has to keep its website updated at all times. Dave said the business takes about 15 to 20 photographs of each car to post online for potential customers to view.

The dealership is now in its third generation, as three of Dave’s children have joined the team. The brothers said they hope to see the dealership continue and said the future looks bright. They think working together has helped the business stay open for the past 50 years.

“I think a lot of it is our relationships that we formed,” Jeryl said. “Our relationships with one another, our working relationships with our employees and our customers. Dubois County is a great place to have a business like this. We feel very fortunate to be here.”

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