By Sharon Coy
Blade Staff Writer
A car salesman who has been serving the people of North Central Kansas for more than 28 years will soon be retiring.
Greg Fell, new car sales manager at Concordia Chevrolet/Buick, will work his last day March 29 when he retires and trades his selling career for a fishing pole and more time to spend with his family at his home on the Lake of the Ozarks near Osage Beach, Mo.
Fell, who was born and raised in Washington, began selling cars at Whitcomb Motors, the Ford dealership in his hometown, in 1972 following two tours of duty in Vietnam and working one year in Topeka as a station agent for Frontier Airlines.
Fell said in the 1970s new cars were selling from $6-$7,000. "The average person could afford to buy a new car, although they didn't trade as often," he said.
When the Ford dealership in Washington closed, Fell operated a used car lot until 1984. One of his most interesting sales during this venture was when he traded a car for two turkeys and a pig plus some cash.
At his Washington business, he also sold some new cars which he obtained through Ray Houser, owner of Babe Houser Motor Co. As they became better acquainted, Houser talked Fell into coming to work for him.
"I'll just come over for a while and see how it works," Fell told Houser thinking he would give it a test period of six months.
The six months went by and he and Houser never had another conversation about his employment. From 1985-1986 Fell drove back and forth from Washington before moving to Concordia.
When Fell began work at Babe Houser Motor Co., the dealership was selling Chevrolets, Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Pontiacs and Cadillacs. The first new car he sold was a 1991 Coupe De Ville purchased by a customer from Mankato.
The biggest changes Fell has seen in his working years stem from the introduction of computers and the Internet.
In earlier years, sales took a lot longer with everything being done through the mail and phone calls. "Now, with computers, a make and price can be found in the blink of an eye," Fell said. "Technology changed the way business is done."
Fell said the dealership was probably its busiest in the months following 9/11 in 2001. At this time General Motors introduced zero percent financing and offered rebates as a way to boost the economy.
"Mike Lamm and I probably sold more new cars in two or three months than we ever had," he said.
When Babe Houser Motor Co. was sold to Charlie and Elaine Bowers in January of 2011 and became Concordia Chevrolet/Buick, Fell continued to work for them.
Fell said the people are what he has enjoyed most about his job. "I've made a lot of friends," he said. "I'll miss visiting with customers, some of whom I've sold cars to three generations."
Fell said he also would miss his co-workers, noting that four men in the back shop were there when he came to work 28 years ago.
As for dislikes, he said as far as he is concerned, there really is no downside.
Fell attributes his success in salesmanship to being honest and truthful, saying that is how he built up his clientele. "Concordia's been a good town," he said of his years working here.
Fell's wife Diana, who worked in the parts department for Martin Tractor, retired in 2003. When they move to their home in the Ozarks, they will be near a daughter who lives only 40 miles away and their five other children will all be within a short driving distance. The couple have 13 grandchildren.
In addition, they will be living just two doors down from one of Greg's Army buddies. His future plans include enjoying fishing and spending a lot of time with his grandchildren.
Concordia Chevrolet/Buick is honoring Fell with a three-day reception from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., March 27-29. Everyone is invited to stop by the office at 1201 East 6th Street and wish Greg luck in his retirement.