George E. “Chip” Wychem Jr.
A good friend asked me what it was like to see my last name on the back of so many cars in Stark County.
it was cool. But starting next year, fewer and fewer cars will see the Wychem name. In time it will disappear. It’s a bittersweet time for our family and it might be helpful to let other family businesses know how we got to this point.
When I was 19, my father called me into his cramped office and asked me one question.
I told him I want to sell cars like his.
He turned to the man behind the desk and said, “Well, Terry, here’s your answer.” I knew that My future was cast in a Ford Blue.
Only 13% of all family businesses are handed down to three generations. Fewer than 3% of her reach number four. Now I know why. Financial reasons are rarely the reason successful family businesses are sold. But it’s very rare that the next generation shares the same passion.
Other guest comments:Do nothing while your neighbor is bleeding
“I… fell in love with the art of selling cars.”
My dad started Wychem Motors because he loved Wheels and Deals and hated the idea of working in a factory. These were the only options available to anyone in his generation whose parents were immigrants and uneducated.
On the other hand, I fell in love with the art of selling cars. Ever since I started sweeping floors at age 13, I’ve loved everything. It was there that I met her wife, Cindy, and we often spent Sundays washing the car while we were dating.
It wasn’t romantic, but after closing tens of thousands of deals in her lifetime, Cindy is still the best.
My brothers had their own reasons for joining the family business. For nearly half a century, we worked together to name one of his four cars sold in Stark County with Wychem’s name. A few years ago, we tried to buy a dealership in Irvine, Texas, and were beaten by a GM employee.
We then turned all our attention to the stretch of land between Canton and Massillon.
Waikem Motors has grown to 14 brands and over 300 employees.
Waikem Motors has grown to represent 14 automotive brands with over 300 employees. One salesman robbed a Harter Bank branch during a dinner break and enjoyed his dinner at Imperial’s house restaurant with a celebratory steak, and almost all were wonderful people. He saw his face on local TV, along with his two highway patrolmen eating across the room.
I think they were more surprised than we were when they found out why he hadn’t returned from his break. Stories like this are enough to last his three generations.
It has had its ups and downs over the years. I remember the bank arguing with my father until his father threw the dealer’s key across the desk and told him to take it. They didn’t, but we got out of the way and became the largest auto company in Stark County.
The last three years have been our most successful years yet. But business was changing in ways that sapped the passion from an already out-of-control family.
Once upon a time, I knew every manufacturer’s dealer reps and they knew me. We have worked together and built a relationship over the years. Now they’re coming and going so fast that I don’t even know who to call in a pinch.
Manufacturers themselves are changing their relationship with dealers. Owning a dealer meant representing all automotive products. Some manufacturers are now considering splitting their dealerships into a group that sells electric cars and a group that sells conventional cars.
The future competes with the past.
As a family, we agreed it was time to sell.
At the same time, my siblings and the next generation were developing their own special passion. My brother David loves to fish, almost sucks water, and he has already opened two successful Fisherman’s Central stores.
Everyone else’s mind was beginning to wander. As a family we agreed it was time to sell. I love my brothers dearly, but I can honestly say that it was a rare moment when I fully agreed.
Dealer Broker found another family business with the same passion for the car business. The Deal family are sharp, honest, and good people. Soon their name replaces Wychem’s on the backs of cars all over Stark County.
I hope they do well.
My father was a street smart man who loved life and business.I learned many lessons from him. Most importantly, thank the people who provided their services.
Thank you Stark County. For years we have been selling our automotive dreams and thousands of customers have made our family’s dreams come true.
We leave the debt of our auto business to just one group. You are.
George E. “Chip” Waikem Jr. is President and Chairman of Waikem Motors Inc. The company is acquired by He Diehl Automotive of Butler, Pennsylvania.