The year was 1907 and many thought that the horse and buggy would continue to be the way to travel. One notable exception was a young farm implement salesman of exceptional ability and bold vision. His name was Guy S. Garber, and he saw the automobile as the vehicle to the future.
Growing up in the Lansing area, his reputation as a salesman brought him to the attention of William C. Durant, founder of General Motors. At his urging, Guy Garber became a factory representative for Buick Motor Division. During his first six months he established one dealership, in Battle Creek Michigan. His responsibility was the management of the day to day operations.
His success there brought him to take on a greater challenge, coming to Saginaw, Michigan in 1910 representing Buick. This was to become the key to his success with Buick and General Motors.... lasting a lifetime. Guy Garber shared the vision of the GM founder. America was headed for a golden automotive era.
Guy Garber's long and productive affiliation with GM lasted nearly 60 years, through the great depression and two world wars. During that time Garber married Hazel Denyes and began a family which would eventually number four sons and two daughters; Jack, Maxine, Richard, Guy Jr. (Ike), Jane and Robert.
As the oldest family-owned Buick dealership in the United States, the Garbers have always conducted a unique relationship with GM's Buick Motor Division. In its early years Garber Buick Company became a GM model for salesmanship, efficiency and service to the customer.
Years ago it was written that Guy S. Garber has but one hobby and that is service. "He lives service, breathes service and practices service. His predominant business policy is to render such uniformly satisfying service that there shall not be a single dissatisfied Buick owner in the 30 counties comprising his territory." Said Guy S. Garber,
"Service does not mean something for nothing, but it does mean prompt, efficient and courteous attention at a fair price." This founding business philosophy thrives today in the mission statement for the organization.
When automotive pioneer Guy S. Garber died on December 5, 1965 at the age of 81, Michigan's first Buick distributorship became the nation's last Buick distributorship. An important piece of automotive history had passed away.
Richard Garber, Sr., son of Guy Garber, who had been actively managing Garber Buick Company, became president and owner until his death in 1972. Like his father, Richard was a civic leader in every sense of the word.
Richard Garber was succeeded by Norman F. Geyer as president. Norm Geyer was married to Maxine Garber and was a son-in-law to Guy Garber. He was a dedicated, honest, and respected individual with high values. With over 25 years of experience with the organization, the majority as service director, Norm was knowledgeable in all aspects of the dealership operation. As president, he successfully guided the Buick store for eight years, during the trying times of the 1970's, until he passed the torch to Richard J. Garber Jr., in 1980.
Richard J. Garber, Jr., was the third generation to take the helm of the company in its 73rd year of operation. When he became president, he was the youngest Buick dealer for a dealership of its size in the nation. Since that time the organization has grown to 13 dealerships located in four states, Michigan, Florida, Illinois and New York. Additional growth in the organization includes Garber Management Group, RightWay Automotive Credit, Gateway Financial Solutions, and Saginaw Spirit.
The organization today is a long way from the 1907 version, but important traditions live on: dedication to service, a loyal staff and a forward-looking vision. One that echoes in the spirit of a young farm implement salesman who took thousands of mid-Michigan area residents out of the buggy and put them behind the wheel.