Bernard's says thank you to community
About 1,000 customers and friends stopped by Bernard's Northtown Dec. 13 to help the local automobile dealership celebrate 75 years in business.
According to Sales Manager Mike Montello, the day was a perfect opportunity to thank previous customers for their loyalty and thank the community for its support.
"This wasn't a sales event," Montello said. "It was a way to interact with the community and say thank you. We have a lot to be thankful for."
Bernard's brought back their "North Pole" theme for the Saturday celebration. It's been a few years since the dealership went all out with a Santa visit, wagon rides, treats, crafts, cookie decorating and door prizes.
The newly remodeled sales floor helped make the North Pole's return possible.
"It worked out really well for us to bring it back this year," Montello said.
Renovations were completed in October and the celebration served as a re-grand opening as well.
"It was a good opportunity to officially re-open," Montello said.
A big part of the day was the presentation of a plaque by Chrysler District Manager Bob Dunn commemorating Bernard's Northtown's 75 years as a Chrysler dealer. The plaque was already on the wall last week, next to a silver engraved plate given to Bernard's for its 25-year anniversary with Plymouth-DeSoto in 1939 and a 50-year plaque from 1983.
"Seventy-five years in business is not extremely rare," Montello said, "but it's rare that anyone or the same family would own a dealership for that length of time."
In 1931, Bernard Olson began a one stall garage with $125 in his pocket and a toolbox. With the help of his family and friends, and a community that wanted to give him a chance, Olson was able to open Bernard's Super Service in downtown New Richmond.
Prior to obtaining the DeSoto-Plymouth franchise, he worked for Oscar Olien as a repairman. Five years later, Bernard started his own garage in a building behind the Lowrey Hotel that he rented from Walter Beebe for $25 a month.
As the years went by and the Bernard's business expanded, it became evident that the Olson's needed more room. So in 1974, he moved the business to the north side of town and renamed it Bernard's Northtown. That is where the dealership is today.
Bernard's son, Dave Olson, now operates the Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealership along side his son, B.J. Dave's daughter, Kris, in public relations, and his grandson Zach in the detail department.