McCormick Motors History
G. Gordon “Short” McCormick, founder of McCormick Motors, began his automotive career selling Pontiac cars and International trucks. After spending five years as a salesman, Short was able to purchase the Nappanee Chevrolet dealership on December 13, 1953, from Ray Shank. Originally located in a storefront at 200 South Main Street in Nappanee, McCormick Motors had a one-car showroom, a three-stall service area, and a used car lot for ten vehicles.
Four years later in November 1957, McCormick Motors moved to its current location on 1,000 front feet of U.S. Highway 6 West. The original building was a 12,500 square foot structure that housed sales, a showroom, business office, parts and service departments, and a car and truck lot. Short added the body shop at the east end of the property in 1959, and completed expansions to the original service building structure in 1965 and 1970, doubling the size of the service and parts department. In 1974, McCormick Motors completed a separate 10,000 square foot showroom on the west end of the property to display the expanding lines of new cars and trucks.
For the next 20 years, McCormick Motors focused on integrating the latest innovations in technology into customer and business practices. During the ’70s and ’80s, it was the integration of increasingly more complex automotive diagnostic devices to make the repair and service more precise. In the early ’90s, the addition of computer systems to tie together all of the business processes of McCormick Motors service orders, parts, invoicing, and accounting was the latest application of new technology.
In June 1997, Short, Bernie Beer, and Gordon Moore entered into a buy/sell agreement to facilitate the smooth transfer of the dealership to the next generation of Chevy dealers. Control of the dealership passed on to Bernie Beer who became the Chevrolet franchise dealer and President of McCormick Motors while Gordon became the Vice President of the company.
Recognizing the limitations of a strictly retail operation Bernie and Gordon focused on growing the fleet and commercial end of the business. Fortunately, this coincided with the introduction of new Chevrolet light duty and medium duty commercial truck products. The opportunities these vehicles created, coupled with the talents of dealership personnel allowed McCormick’s to rapidly grow a market presence in the ambulance, shuttle bus and recreational vehicle markets.
In the decade following the transfer of the dealership in 1997, the company grew from a very strong regional dealership to a nationally recognized fleet and commercial operation. The dealership was recognized as one of Chevrolet’s leading experts in the ambulance, shuttle bus and recreational vehicle markets with the sale of products in all fifty states. There were also two building expansions in 2001 and 2004 that increased the size of the service building by over 10,000 square feet and updated the building infrastructure.
From 2003 until the GM bankruptcy the dealership was nationally ranked in the top five percent of all dealers in the sale of medium duty trucks, light duty commercial vehicles and in overall sales performance. McCormick’s was ranked in the top five GM medium-duty truck dealerships from 2003 to 2009 with annual sales of medium-duty trucks of over 1,500 trucks in each of those years.
On June 1, 2009, following the GM bankruptcy, the dealership had to quickly readjust to a new reality. The following week on June 8th GM announced the closure of the Chevrolet Medium Duty Truck business. Without a medium duty truck to sell the immediate impact on the dealership was the loss of two-thirds of its overall sales volume. McCormick’s acquired the Hino Truck franchise within a month of the closure of GM Medium Duty Truck and by the end of the year had acquired the Isuzu Truck franchise. While increasing the complexity of the operation by having to work with three manufacturers instead of just one, the dealership was able to provide a similar portfolio of products to their commercial customer base.
In late 2009, McCormick Motors purchased the Buick and GMC franchises. With the acquisition of these two franchises, McCormick’s was in a position to sell every product in the GM lineup with the exception of Cadillac. In 2013, the dealership completed the renovation of the showroom at a cost of $1M so that the facility met the GM franchise requirements. In 2014, this investment was followed by an expansion of the body shop operation into a new and larger facility.
All the expansions over the past decade have included the requirement to make sustainability an integral part of the building projects. This culminated in the installation of the first bank of solar panels in February 2009. The solar plant has grown to a 61 kW system made up of over 250 solar panels, one of the largest small business solar plants in Indiana. Between 2000 and 2013, the dealership increased the building square footage by 80%, while at the same time cutting gas consumption by 70% and trimming electric consumption by 25%. In June 2014, McCormick Motors was selected by GM to be one of thirteen pilot program dealerships for the GM Green Dealer Recognition Program.
In March 2019, Bernie and Gordon entered into a buy/sell agreement with Tom Nunemaker, Susan Zeiger, and Josh George to facilitate the smooth transfer of the dealership to the next generation of Chevy dealers. The objective of the buy-sell was to ensure the continued prosperity of the dealership while minimizing the disruption to employees and customers. Control of the dealership passed on to Tom Nunemaker who became the Chevrolet franchise dealer and President of McCormick Motors while Susan and Josh became Vice Presidents of the company.