BELFAST, Maine — It was almost a century ago that Greg Dutch’s grandfather started a Chevrolet dealership in downtown Belfast.
Since that time, the family-owned company has sold a lot of vehicles to Mainers. Last week, though, was a momentous one for the family business. After 94 years, the Dutches sold the dealership to Ellsworth-based Stanley Subaru.
“It’s a huge change,” said owner Greg Dutch, 63, who will stay on as comptroller of the newly renamed Stanley Chevrolet Buick dealership.
The deal closed on Tuesday. Details of the sell weren’t disclosed, but Dutch said he believes it will be a good move.
His two children, who work as a Portland restaurateur and a teacher, have chosen different career paths. The business would not be able to remain family-owned for the long term. But Stanley Subaru shares the same values, Dutch said, and when he reached out last year to that dealership’s owner, Mark Politte, it was because he knew the company would honor and maintain the Dutch family’s long legacy of customer service, commitment to the community and more.
“Mark understands family and certainly understands community,” Dutch said. “You’ve got to find the right fit for the dealership and my employees. My father, [Bryant Dutch], is still alive, and I thought it would be important for him to see that the dealership would be in good hands.”
For customers — some of whom have bought their cars at Dutch for 60 years — not much should change other than the name on the sign. Its 32 employees are still working there, and new cars on the lot will still be made by Chevrolet and Buick. But Belfast and Ellsworth dealerships will share used car inventories, Dutch said, and be able to access a wider range of vehicles.
Politte said he is excited about the transition.
“It is the commonalities in our beliefs, our focus and our approach that will make it successful for the next 94 years,” he said.
Dutch — who began working at the family business when he was just 12 years old — said it might take some time to master answering the phone with the dealership’s new name. But he’s glad that the dealership’s next chapter is off to a good start.
“We’re about helping people,” he said. “When we’ve done our job and found someone the vehicle they want, that’s why we stay in business.”