Dealer Spotlight

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BYRON HANSEN

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GM, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, GMC – Hansen Motor Co.

1175 S. Commerce Way Brigham City, UT 84302 (866)498-2616

First car: A new 1965 Red Chevrolet Corvair coupe. It was given to me to drive to college etc. by my parents (Dad was the dealer).

Current car: New Cadillac SRX.

Dream Car: New Corvette and new Cadillac Escalade.

First full-time job: Mechanical engineer in the nuclear energy field for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission.

How did you get into the car business? I started as a janitor, window washer, lot boy/wash boy during the summer at Dad’s dealership in Montpelier, Idaho. I was 12 years old at the time.

First job in the car industry: Car salesman beginning in December 1975. Previously had graduated from University of Utah and Stanford University with engineering degrees and had worked for the government nuclear industry for three years. Decided to return to the family business.

Best moment in a car: Picking up a new Corvette at the factory in Bowling Green, Ky., and driving it home with my wife.

Most important lesson you’ve learned in the car business: Life’s too short to not enjoy what you’re doing. If you’re not excited about going to work each day, then you need to look for another job!

If you were going to give advice to someone who just became a car dealer, what would that advice be? Set a high standard for fair and equitable treatment of both your employees and your customers. Treat your customers fairly and honestly and they will return to you for decades to come. Never enter the business without being adequately capitalized. Cash is king and one should do everything possible to preserve your ability to access it. There will always be occasional dark clouds on the horizon and you must constantly maintain a reserve to get you through the cyclical low points in the business.

Most important lesson you’ve learned in life: You are happiest when sharing your time, talents and material possessions with others. The person who thinks only of himself will never find happiness.

Funniest thing that ever happened to you in the car business: As a 16 year old working in the used car detail bay, we decided one day that it would be funny to get up on the roof of the dealership and pull a prank by pouring a bucket of water onto one of the technicians as he exited the building. We filled a 25-gallon drum full of water and got all set to dump it off the roof when the employee walked out the back door. You can imagine our excitement and the suspense as we waited for the grand prank to take place. Suddenly we heard the door opening and immediately started pouring out the water. To my shock and dismay, the water began to fall–not on our employee but upon my Dad and his customer as they walked out to the back of the dealership to look at a used car. Upon realizing that we’d hit the wrong target, we immediately began to jump off the roof and endeavored to hide before they realized that the boss’s kid was involved. It was not a good day. But I never did get caught and Dad never did figure out who was stupid enough to try such a stunt! Thank goodness.

If you weren’t working in the car industry, what would you be doing? I’d put my college degrees to use by working in the aerospace industry in a program management position.

In your opinion, what was the most technologically important advancement ever made in the automobile? Internal combustion engine and electric starter.

In your opinion, what was the worst idea that ever came to fruition in the design of any automobile? The Cadillac V-8/6/4 engine of the early 1980s. Computer technology wasn’t advanced enough at the time. When the engine was supposed to be delivering V8 power, it was working as a four cylinder and when you wanted four-cylinder mileage and efficiency, it was a gas-guzzling V8. An idea that was way, way ahead of its time.

If you were going to drive from Utah to California with a companion (other than spouse or relative), who would that person be and why? As an “over-the-hill,” 65-year-old geezer, I’d probably dream about going with one of those young Hollywood starlets! But in a practical sense, I’d wish that the late technology genius Steve Jobs were still alive and that I could travel with one of the greatest inventors and visionaries of the past century.

What’s your definition of success? Enjoying your place in life–knowing that the sun will always come up in the morning and being excited to find new challenges and opportunities.

How do you think the car industry has changed since you began compared with now? People today regard the automobile as a means to get from point A to point B. During the automotive golden years of the 1950s and 1960s, styling was king and the automobile wasn’t just transportation but also a fashion statement.

How do you relax when you’re not at work? Traveling, enjoying January through February in Maui, and occasional snowmobiling in the winter months. In my younger years, I enjoyed flying my own airplane–a Cessna 182 (it’s for sale–any takers?).

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