“It’s all been good,” shared Joe LaClair in a phone interview on Wednesday, Aug. 12. He was referencing his 60 years in the car business – 45 of those years at LaClair. He recently sold his longtime Chesaning area Chevrolet and Buick dealership to Dick Garber of Garber Automotive Group, headquartered in Saginaw. LaClair stated, “Dick is a friend and a gentleman that I hold in the highest regard.” He feels very confident about the sale to Garber.
“As I was looking to sell our dealership, I was looking for a person who would serve our customer base in a way they are used to. As well as, someone our staff would respect as much as they have myself,” LaClair expressed in a brief letter.
When LaClair first became involved in the automobile business, some of the more popular cars of the time were the Chevy Bel Airs, Impalas and Chevelles – all quality classics, much like LaClair, himself. What does he have planned now?
“Lots of fun,” he said. He hopes to have more time for golfing, hunting, fishing and “travelling with my bride.” The couple hopes to eventually spend more time at their place in Florida, too.
LaClair was born and raised on a farm, graduating from Hemlock High School in 1960. At 17, he was cultivating in a field one day, when he observed a new car on the dirt road pull into his yard. He didn’t often see many new vehicles in the area he lived. As it turned out, the car belonged to Lowell Martin, a reputable Saginaw area auto dealer, who approached LaClair because he wanted a new bookkeeper. “His sister was getting married and he knew of me, knew I had good grades,” shared LaClair. At 17, LaClair went to work for Martin as a bookkeeper, eventually deciding he wanted to sell cars and working his way up to a sales manager position. In 1975, he began LaClair Sales, after purchasing the Jim Stuart dealership in downtown Chesaning.
“Over the last few months, I have met many of the Garber Management Team. From car sales to service … they truly have a great staff of talented people.” LaClair was clear that his employees are staying on with Garber. Garber does have plans to increase the new and used car inventory, “as well as other new features our customers have asked for. I am excited to see the Chesaning Chevy Buick business grow in the future.”
LaClair Sales, now officially Garber Chevrolet Buick, is located at 12709 W. Brady Rd., Chesaning. Juan Bush of Garber, has stepped in as the new dealership manager. “Bush is a good fit for us,” stated LaClair. Bush lives just north in St. Charles, so he already knows the area very well.