Garrettsville – In celebration of its 60th anniversary, the Charles Auto Family invites the community to join them for a day of fun, food and prizes. Deejay Jason Adkins will oversee the festivities from 10 am to 4pm on Saturday, September 16 at the dealership, located at 10851 North Street in Garrettsville. The Portage County Dog Warden, Jungle Terry Show, The Bob Golic Live Radio Show (WNIR), Mark Angelo Balloon Art, and hourly Cash Cube Drawings will round out the schedule, as visitors reminisce with the Charles Auto Family over hot dogs, brownies and beverages.
The year was 1957. Amherst native Charles Abraham, one of 12 siblings from a poor immigrant family, had just worked his way up to being one of the top car salesmen in northeast Ohio. His decision to purchase his own dealership in Garrettsville eventually ushered in a new era of development in this small rural community, helping to build and develop the Garfield Plaza.
Charles didn’t stop there. His entrepreneurial and philanthropic efforts brought many benefits to the community. Among his many outreach efforts were the contribution of the family meeting room at then Robinson Memorial Hospital; supporting the Garrettsville Police and Fire Departments; and donating the Holy Family Shrine to St. Ambrose Church.
Charles instilled his sense of service into his son, Bruce; the current owner of the dealership. Bruce has continued his father’s work by supporting local youth sports leagues and education programs throughout Portage County and surrounding areas. He also has continued to support several programs his father helped establish, like the Hattie Larlham Golf Classic that takes place annually at Sugar Bush Golf Course.
If you were standing in front of the current Art & Flowers, a local downtown flower shop, during the late summer of 1957, you would be looking into the original showroom of Charles Chevrolet-Oldsmobile. It was Charles’s first big venture, having left his brother’s dealership to establish his own. Commuting more than an hour from Amherst, “My dad didn’t plan on staying long in Garrettsville,” Bruce recalls. “He nearly moved the dealership back to Amherst, but he realized he loved this town too much to leave it. He drove 70 miles each way every day. He was so dedicated to this community, he held every office in town except mayor.”
The dealership stayed at that location for eight years before moving to the current site in 1965. “This was just a mix of residential land, swamp and fields before we broke ground here,” Bruce remembers. The plaza went in around the same time, with the hardware store as the anchor.
Over the years, the dealership has grown and undergone many changes, including renovations and the addition of new brands. However, one thing has stayed the same… the sense of family throughout the business. It was always vitally important to Charles — and still is to Bruce today — to ensure that everyone is treated like family…customers and employees alike. Charles passed away in 2011, but Bruce and his family are proud to carry Charles’s legacy forward. The family business Charles started 60 years ago now has reached its third generation, with Jimmy in finance and Tommy in detailing.
The most recent changes at the dealership include the establishment last year of the detailing shop at the former Mark’s Automotive service center down the street, and the 2014 renovation that updated the look, feel, and technology in the dealership, equipping Charles Auto to ensure serving the area for many years to come.
“Even though this 60th anniversary means I’m getting old, I’m looking forward to spending time with families who have been Charles Auto customers for four to five generations now,” Bruce grins. “So please join us at the dealership on Saturday, September 16th as we celebrate our the customers… We know that without our customers’ patronage, we would not have been able to successfully reach this great milestone of 60 years in business.”
Charles Auto can be reached at www.charlesautofamily.com or by calling (866) 419-9971 or (330) 527-2101.