Van Horn employee owners (shown left to right): Brian Wieland (Used Car Director), Laura Pehler (Photographer), Hannah Vassar (HR Coordinator), Chuck Van Horn (Co-CEO), Tonya Stahl (Vice President, Wisconsin Consumer Credit), Ryan Thiel (Marketing Director), Tom Stocco (Chief Financial Officer)
Award demonstrates a strong commitment to employee ownership.
Wisconsin Dells, WI, March 15, 2019 – The Wisconsin Chapter of The ESOP Association recognized Van Horn Automotive Group as 2019 Company of the Year at its Annual Spring Conference in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. The ESOP Company of the Year award is presented to a company that demonstrates a commitment to employee ownership, as exhibited by involvement with the Association and its programs, communication with employees, and commitment to the Association’s vision.
Out of the 185 employee owned companies in Wisconsin, the ESOP Association considered 5 finalists and awarded 1 winner for this award. Each applicant was asked to provide examples of creating and supporting a working environment of employee ownership. “When we received word that we were getting the ESOP Company of the Year Award, we were ecstatic!” said co-CEO and ESOP Trustee Teresa Van Horn. “Since we started the ESOP in 2015, we’ve been diligently working to build awareness and value among our “employee owners”. It’s a long process, but it’s really starting to pay off in the mindset of how our employees treat each other and their customers. It really creates a forward-thinking attitude, and we are committed to building the strength of our ESOP for many years to come.”
Alicia Diekow, ESOP Chapter Administrator expressed, “The selection committee enjoyed reading about the various ways that Van Horn has worked to be recognized as an ESOP company with their ‘I OWN IT’ t-shirts and internal competitions as well as in their communities with a slogan of “Family Born. Employee Owned.” This recognition by the Wisconsin Chapter of the ESOP Association qualifies Van Horn Automotive Group to be considered for the National ESOP Company of the Year, which will be announced May 22, 2019 at the 42nd Annual ESOP Conference in Washington D.C.
Van Horn Automotive Group became the first partially employee-owned car dealership group in Wisconsin in 2015. The group’s 500 full-time employees own 30% of the company as part of the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). Due to growth and expansion of the Van Horn Automotive Group, full-time employees have increased by over 100 in the last year and turnover rate has decreased by 8%.
About the ESOP Association
The ESOP Association is America’s largest employer-sponsored advocacy and education association focused on employee stock ownership plans. For more information on the Association, visit www.esopassociation.org.
About Van Horn Automotive Group
Van Horn Automotive Group, Inc. is a family born, employee owned automotive group with headquarters in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Founded in 1966 by Joe Van Horn as a single Chevrolet dealership, and purchased by his children: Chuck, Teresa and JP Van Horn, Van Horn Automotive Group has grown to include 18 automotive dealerships, a finance company, a real estate business and several insurance companies. The group employs over 580 people throughout Wisconsin and Iowa. For employment opportunities visit the Careers page at Van Horn Careers.
On September 17, 2018, Van Horn Automotive Group purchased Nissan and Volkswagen dealerships in Sheboygan. In celebration of the new location, Van Horn Nissan Volkswagen of Sheboygan donated $100 from each unit sold in October and November to Safe Harbor of Sheboygan County. Established in 1990, Safe Harbor has provided assistance to individuals in Sheboygan County that have been affected by sexual assault and domestic abuse in their time of crisis.
Van Horn Nissan Volkswagen sold a total of 101 units in their first two months of operation, totaling a donation of $10,100. “This unique kind of fundraising promotion is a great way to increase awareness of our services. The funds we received help us provide the critical direct services victims of abuse need. Services include: emergency hotline, shelter services and supplies to provide immediate safety, victim accompaniment which helps victims navigate systems and other community services that can help people move toward a life without violence,” said Laura Roenitz, Executive Director of Safe Harbor.
Leading into the Holidays, Van Horn Automotive Group also collected items through a supply drive involving all Van Horn dealerships throughout Sheboygan County. The monetary donation, as well as the supplies, were presented to Roenitz and Safe Harbor on December 14, 2018. Supply drive items included: paper products, towels, cleaning supplies, and laundry necessities – items the shelter can always use.
Van Horn Automotive Group is proud to support the communities in which they operate, and will continue to give back time and talents to make them stronger.
If you or someone you know is in need of services provided by Safe Harbor, please call their helpline at 920-452-7640.
The celebration began at 4:00pm with a ceremonial ribbon cutting that included City Officials, State Representatives, Van Horn Executives, and the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce.
Van Horn President and COO, Richard Strong welcomed the 200 guests stating, “we’ve been growing a lot, internally, and externally. We have expanded into Oconomowoc and Stoughton, and up into Manitowoc, but we’re really happy to be able to invest in Sheboygan County again.”
At 4:30 the entertainment began in the Nissan showroom with a Karate Demonstration from black belt, Kevin Horne with his students Colby and Nick Grams followed by a special performance from the D’Werdenfelser Schuhplattlers in the Volkswagen Showroom. “As we planned this Grand Opening, I felt it was important to recognize the origin of each manufacturer brand by connecting entertainment and merchants from our local community that embrace these cultures” stated Crystal Dekker, Marketing Administrator for Van Horn Automotive Group.
Headquartered in Plymouth, Wisconsin, Van Horn Automotive Group has been present in Sheboygan County for over 52 years. The acquisition of Van Horn Nissan and Volkswagen of Sheboygan brings local ownership back to this dealership and adds two more brands to the Van Horn family, which also includes: Ford, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, FIAT, Hyundai and Mazda.
To continue the celebration, Van Horn Nissan and Volkswagen of Sheboygan is donating $100 for each unit sold during the months of October and November to Safe Harbor of Sheboygan. “The important part about when businesses like Van Horn invest in Safe Harbor, it is about spreading the word and really getting the people that need help,” added Laura Roenitz, Executive Director of Safe Harbor.
Expanding their presence in Iowa while connecting to their roots
Davenport, IA, October 18, 2018 – Van Horn Automotive Group has announced the purchase of Zimmerman Alfa Romeo-FIAT of the Quad Cities, located at 323 Research Parkway, Davenport, IA. The acquisition marks the 1st Alfa Romeo dealership for the Van Horn Automotive Group, which now has 17 total franchise and used car dealerships throughout Wisconsin and Iowa.
Van Horn Alfa Romeo-FIAT of Davenport intends to bring a larger selection of new and used inventory to the 6-acre property and further develop the service center. “We’re very excited to add the Alfa Romeo brand to the Van Horn family,” said Chuck Van Horn, co-CEO Van Horn Automotive Group. “We’ve been selling Alfas at our other FCA locations in Wisconsin, and they’ve always drawn high interest. They’re a unique design with a high attention to detail, backed by a rich heritage.”
Davenport marks the second Iowa location for the Wisconsin-based auto group, which recently opened Van Horn Ford Chevrolet of Newhall in November last year. “We’ve really enjoyed our time in Iowa,” said Teresa Van Horn, co-CEO Van Horn Automotive Group. “While it may seem distant from our headquarters in eastern Wisconsin, it holds a special place in Van Horn family history. My great grandparents immigrated from Ireland and settled in Ainsworth; and the family farm is still owned by our cousins.” Teresa added, “There are a number of reputable, higher learning institutions in the Quad Cities area. My father grew up in Rock Island and graduated from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, while my mother grew up in Moline and went to the historic Marycrest University.”
Jon Bell, General Manager of Van Horn Alfa Romeo-FIAT of Davenport said, “The Quad Cities is a lively area with a large, diverse population, and great people. We look forward to welcoming residents into our new location and showcasing our high level of customer service.”
“Zimmerman Honda, a 65-year old, locally-owned business, brought Alfa Romeo and FIAT to the Quad Cities, and is excited that the Van Horn Automotive Group will carry on the franchises,” said Mark Zimmerman, owner of Zimmerman Honda. “I’m confident the Van Horn Automotive Group will grow the business and continue to be involved with the Quad Cities community.” Zimmerman Honda, which opened 45 years ago, was the first Honda store in the Quad Cities, and will concentrate on growing and expanding their Moline, Illinois business.
The Van Horn Automotive Group is a family born, employee owned automotive group with headquarters in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Founded in 1966 by Joe Van Horn as a single Chevrolet dealership, and purchased by his children: Chuck, Teresa and JP Van Horn, the Van Horn Automotive Group has grown to include 17 automotive dealerships, a finance company, a real estate business and several insurance companies. The group employs over 550 people throughout Wisconsin and Iowa. For employment opportunities visit the Careers page at www.vhcars.com.
Employee Owned Auto Group expands their brand offering and selection in Sheboygan County
Sheboygan, WI, September 17, 2018 – Van Horn Automotive Group has purchased Russ Darrow Nissan of Sheboygan and Russ Darrow Volkswagen of Sheboygan, located at 5515 Racetrack Road, Sheboygan, WI, from the Russ Darrow Group. The acquisition marks the second Nissan dealership and first Volkswagen dealership for the Van Horn Automotive Group, which now has sixteen total dealerships throughout Wisconsin and Iowa.
“We’re very excited to now offer 10 manufacturer brands and a selection of over 1,500 new/used vehicles under the Van Horn name in Sheboygan County,” said Chuck Van Horn, co-CEO of Van Horn Automotive Group. The south-side Sheboygan location featuring Nissan and Volkswagen add to a lineup of Sheboygan County locations, including: Van Horn Chevrolet of Plymouth, Van Horn Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Fiat of Plymouth, Van Horn Truck Center of Plymouth, Van Horn Budget Auto of Plymouth, and Van Horn Hyundai Mazda of Sheboygan. Chuck adds, “Not only does this acquisition offer another location for purchasing a vehicle from Van Horn, but also another option for vehicle service and repairs.”
The first Van Horn Dealership (Joe Van Horn Chevrolet) opened in Plymouth in 1966. Dick Strong, COO Van Horn Automotive Group said, “We got our start in Sheboygan County over 52 years ago. We are very familiar with the area and the people, and are happy to bring local ownership back to this location.
With recent acquisitions in Oconomowoc, Lomira, Stevens Point and Newhall, Iowa, our organization has been expanding quite a bit; but nothing is more satisfying than growing in our own backyard. The automotive industry is rapidly changing in the way customers buy cars; with access to more information online than ever. As we’ve grown, we’ve worked hard to improve our processes to meet customer expectations. We became the first employee owned automotive group in Wisconsin in 2016; and our associates have a heightened sense of accountability for customer satisfaction. While we’ve been in this area a long time, we invite both new and previous customers to any of our locations to experience the difference.”
“As local owners, we feel it’s important to have a strong connection to our community,” said Teresa Van Horn, co-CEO Van Horn Automotive Group. “There are several meaningful organizations right here in Sheboygan County, and this store opening is a great opportunity to give back.” During the months of October and November, Van Horn will donate $100 to Safe Harbor of Sheboygan County, for every vehicle sold from the Van Horn Nissan and Volkswagen Sheboygan location. Safe Harbor of Sheboygan County, Inc. provides prevention, intervention, education and outreach services to empower individuals, families and the community to end domestic abuse and sexual assault. “Van Horn Automotive Group has always been a long-standing supporter of Safe Harbor and invests in this community; especially those most at risk. Safe Harbor relies on the support of organizations and individuals in this community to provide critical services to victims of sexual assault and domestic violence,” said Laura Roenitz, Executive Director of Safe Harbor. “Van Horn is a leader both in the community and with cars. We are so grateful to Van Horn and their customers who support the work of the Safe Harbor team through this fundraiser.”
Van Horn Automotive Group, Inc. is a family born, employee owned automotive group with headquarters in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Founded in 1966 by Joe Van Horn as a single Chevrolet dealership, and purchased by his children: Chuck, Teresa and JP Van Horn, Van Horn Automotive Group has grown to include 16 automotive dealerships, a finance company, a real estate business and several insurance companies. The group employs over 580 people throughout Wisconsin and Iowa. For employment opportunities visit the Careers page at www.vhcars.com.
On Wednesday, September 5, 2018, Van Horn Automotive Group celebrated the grand reopening of Van Horn Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Stoughton. Previously Dane County Auto, this remodel marked the official transition to a Van Horn dealership.
Over 600 square feet of space was added to the customer lounge for comfort and convenience. In addition, the location underwent an interior and exterior renovation including a new FCA compliant façade showcasing Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram logos.
In attendance were the Stoughton County Chamber of Commerce and Stoughton Mayor, Tim Swadley. Van Horn attendants included President and COO, Dick Strong, Executive Vice President of Dealership Operations, Adam Gaedke, Platform Directors Jeff Niesen and Justin Stanford, Marketing Director Ryan Thiel, and several other Van Horn associates. Representing Keller construction was Bob Poch, the project manager for this remodel, and Emily Foley, marketing associate.
Dee from Solid Rock 94.1 WJJO in Madison was live on location for the duration of the event giving away station merchandise. Last month, WJJO partnered with Van Horn Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Stoughton to collect school supplies for under privileged children. On August 22, 2018, Shayne Miller delivered an entire van load of school supplies to Dee’s Radiothon for the Kids.
Van Horn Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Stoughton is looking forward to a lasting relationship with the Dane County community.
Stoughton, WI, July 25, 2018 – The Van Horn Automotive Group is completing a remodel of their Dane County Auto location at 1411 Highway 51 North in Stoughton, WI. This will mark the official transition of Dane County Auto to Van Horn Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram and will comply with FCA dealership requirements.
While the overall footprint of the dealership will remain consistent, several spaces were reconfigured to provide more area for customer interaction. Over 600 additional square feet was dedicated to the showroom and a fully remodeled customer lounge now includes: new appliances, updated bathrooms with luxury countertops, an internet bar, and air conditioning to the service writer room for customer comfort. “We are happy to be providing our customers with the most comfort and efficiency while they are visiting our dealership. We have updated our overall look and have added modern amenities to provide outrageous service to each and every one of our loyal customers”, said Justin Stanford, Platform Director.
In addition to the 600+ square feet of showroom updates, the existing facility also underwent an interior and exterior renovation that includes a new façade prominently showcasing Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM logos, brand new, energy efficient LED lighting, new overhead doors, and a new air line for quick service on low tire pressure.
Construction of the new showroom, as well as the interior/exterior renovation will be complete mid-August, with a grand opening celebration scheduled for Wednesday, September 5, 2018. Keller, Inc. was the design/build general contractor.
The Van Horn Automotive Group is a family born, employee owned automotive group with headquarters in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Founded in 1966 by Joe Van Horn as a single Chevrolet dealership, and purchased by his children: Chuck, Teresa and JP Van Horn, the Van Horn Automotive Group has grown to include 13 automotive dealerships, a finance company, a real estate business and several insurance companies. The group employs over 500 people throughout Wisconsin and Iowa. For employment opportunities visit the Careers page at www.vanhornauto.com.
For more information on Keller, Inc., Top Metal Builder in the Nation as reported by “Metal Construction News” visit www.kellerbuilds.com.
Stevens Point, WI, July 2, 2018 – The Van Horn Automotive Group has announced the purchase of Stevens Point Nissan from Home Run Auto Group, located at 301 Green Avenue N, Stevens Point, WI. This marks the 13th dealership to be part of the Van Horn Automotive Group, and the 1st Nissan dealership.
With plans for a greater new and used inventory and further developing the service center, Van Horn aims to retain and increase the staff of employees. “We believe in investing in all the communities that we serve,” said Dick Strong, Chief Operating Officer of Van Horn Automotive Group. “The Stevens Point community is strong, with a diverse mix of business, education, culture and the arts. We’re humbled to operate in such a vibrant town.”
“Nissan is a brand we’ve wanted to sell for years, and Stevens Point is a great location; very accessible from every direction,” says Chuck Van Horn, CEO for Van Horn Automotive Group. “It took the right opportunity to make this possible, and we’re humbled to operate in such a vibrant town.”
This acquisition marks the thirteenth dealership location for Van Horn Automotive Group which operates in several areas across the state of Wisconsin, including: Plymouth, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Fond du Lac, Lomira, Stoughton, Milwaukee and Oconomowoc and Newhall, IA. This is the first Nissan dealership for the group which carries several manufacturers, including: Chevrolet, Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat, Hyundai and Mazda.
The Van Horn Automotive Group is a family born, employee owned automotive group with headquarters in Plymouth, Wisconsin. Founded in 1966 by Joe Van Horn as a single Chevrolet dealership, and purchased by his children: Chuck, Teresa and JP Van Horn, the Van Horn Automotive Group has grown to include 13 automotive dealerships, a finance company, a real estate business and several insurance companies. The group employs over 500 people throughout Wisconsin and Iowa. For employment opportunities visit the Careers page at www.vhcars.com.
Memorial Day Test Drive for Charity
On Memorial Day weekend, Van Horn Automotive Group took a different approach to customer test drives. For every test drive taken May 25, 26, and 28, 2018, Van Horn offered to donate $20 to Children of Fallen Patriots, a foundation that provides college scholarships and education to children who have lost a parent serving in the military. “We’ve been open on Memorial Day in the past,” said Marketing Director Ryan Thiel, “but we wanted to move away from a typical sales event and keep the focus on those who gave everything for our freedom and their families.”
Test Drive Results
After the event, the totals were combined from all 12 Van Horn locations throughout Wisconsin and Iowa equaling 221 test drives and a donation of $4,420. “We believe one of the best ways we can honor our fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country is to invest in the future of those they loved most in the world: their children,” notes David Kim, co-founder and CEO of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation. “Through their Memorial Day campaign, Van Horn Automotive Group has generated awareness for our mission and raised over $4,400 in funding for our Gold Star scholars. We couldn’t be more honored to receive Van Horn Automotive Group’s support.”
Thanks for Driving
Lastly, the Van Horn family would like to thank everyone that came out to test drive a vehicle. Whether it was a car someone was possibly interested in purchasing or a ride in a convertible, we appreciate everyone that came out.
A new structure provides defined leadership roles positioned for growth.
Teresa Van Horn has been promoted to co-Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and will share ownership duties with co-CEO and brother, Chuck Van Horn. Chuck states, “Teresa’s steady leadership and unwavering commitment to the Auto Group and the communities it serves propelled her into this role.” Her previous role was Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Van Horn Automotive Group.
Dick Strong will take over as Chief Operating Officer, adding to his role as Group President; a position he’s held since 2013. “With almost 40 years of experience in all areas of the auto business, there is no challenge that Dick hasn’t seen many times before,” says co-CEO Chuck Van Horn. “He is intimately connected to every detail of our complex business, and demands a high moral standard of himself, which is reflected by all those who work and deal with him.”
General Council Basil Buchko will accept the role of Executive VP – Legal and Compliance, and will continue to provide legal representation and direction for Van Horn Automotive Group. Chief Financial Officer Tom Stocco will also increase his role as Executive VP – Finance and Real Estate Operations. “As we expand our footprint to include more dealerships, retail finance and insurance as well as real estate development, it becomes more important to have strong legal and financial leadership for all Van Horn holdings,” says new COO Dick Strong. “In just the last three years, both Basil and Tom have been integral constituents in Van Horn’s growth.”
Adam Gaedke has escalated from his position of Platform Vice President to Executive Vice President of Dealership Operations. In this new role, Gaedke will optimize the efficiency of sales and service operations at all Van Horn dealerships. “Adam brings a clear, tenured vision of the culture; a transparent customer experience we want to impress upon anyone who deals with us,” says co-CEO Chuck Van Horn. “He is a positive leader, who treats everyone with respect and integrity, and instills the same values in his people.”
Mark Watson will serve as the Vice President of Operations for Wisconsin Dealer Services. “As a former Finance Director and Sales Vice President with a passion for training others, Mark’s energy and drive for continuous improvement made this appointment an easy decision,” says new co-CEO Teresa Van Horn.
Four Platform Directors have been assigned to oversee the performance of Van Horn dealerships; aligned by factory brand. They will be responsible for managing positive relationships with automobile manufacturers in executing program goals, and build strong teams to achieve profitability. Justin Stanford – Platform Director, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) dealerships. Kyle Fale – Platform Director, Hyundai dealerships, Brad Knight – Platform Director, Ford dealerships. Jeff Niesen – Platform Director, Chevrolet and Mazda dealerships as well as Van Horn Budget and Van Horn Latino used car dealerships.
Chuck Van Horn adds “This realignment of senior management will create a greater economy of scale for the entire organization. As we expand, we will be readily equipped to handle more business with a high rate of operational efficiency and expense control.”