Celebrating With Tom Denecker And Denecker Chevrolet
By Cookie Steponaitis
photo by WCAX
photo by Cookie StepTom Denecker in front of the new building.
On Friday, April 21st a group of officials from General Motors and selected customers of Denecker Chevrolet will gather in Middlebury for a ribbon cutting ceremony twenty-six years in the making.
In 1991, Tom Denecker began his Vermont career with a small dealership on a dirt lot with the words Miller’s Chevrolet printed on it, fixed it up and paved the lot and as the business grew he outgrew the space. Even after several renovations the growth led to the purchase of a parcel of land on Rt.7 and a plan to move the dealership. Unfortunately for many parties, the State of Vermont did not approve the project and Denecker found himself in need of another location. He purchased a corner lot at the Vergennes business interchange at Route 7 and Route 22A. Again, the State of Vermont turned down the proposal because of Act 250.
Offered the chance by General Motors to move to Middlebury and take over the dealership from Shea Motors, Denecker found himself in new quarters but with the same perplexing issues as before. The building needed intense renovation and Denecker needed more space. The result was not only a facility upgrade but a ground up, state of the art dealership offering customers the latest in trucks, cars, service and parts. When Denecker and the visiting officials cut the ribbon, Tom Denecker will have achieved a dream and promise he made to himself 40 years ago. “I am indeed a happy man,” explained Tom Denecker. “I have the Denecker 'Vermont Truck Center' in Vergennes where my roots are and the new facility in Middlebury. I am seeing second and approaching three generations of customers who still come to see us because of our professional courteous service and the ability to see the owner on a daily basis. Now we can offer state of the art facilities and service.”
Amidst the celebration of the new facility there will be a special fundraising event on Saturday, April 22nd at both the Middlebury and Vergennes locations. Rotary Club members will be on hand to assist people demo drive vehicles. For each vehicle that is driven Denecker Chevrolet will make a $20.00 donation to the Vergennes Boys & Girls Club. “It is important for the everyone to understand that the Rotarians will be handling this event,” explained Tom Denecker. “No sales staff will be there and there is no pressure to buy. There will be line of brand new Chevrolet’s out front. For each test drive I will donate $20.00 to the Boys & Girls Club.” In addition to the combined efforts of Denecker and the Vergennes Rotary the dealership will have hot dogs, balloons and a visit from Miss Vermont 2017 from 11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
When asked why expand your dealership at a time when trends and world events seem to be shaky at best, Tom Denecker learned back and thought for a moment and then responded. “In business it is a balance of how aggressive you are and how much service and consistency you put into it. Many people would not conceive that there are many weeks I am at the dealership 70-90 hours a week and many a night when I am the last one out, but it never gets old when you see a person enjoying their new car or coming back for a second, third, fourth time or bringing their children to look at their first car.”
One thing will never change for Tom Denecker. He is more than the name on the building and person signing the checks. He is literally involved in all phases of the project and was filling in as sales manager when this interview took place. Chuckling at a memory, Denecker concluded by sharing that just this year he was out getting a car ready for a customer and washed it, filled it with gas, put on the new plates and walked into the showroom and handed the keys over. ‘Enjoy your new car,’ remarked Denecker and moved off to his next project. Just as he was leaving earshot he heard the customer comment, ‘Who was that?’ ‘The owner’ replied the salesperson. Denecker said he turned around in time to see the man’s mouth fall open and his face take on a look of pure disbelief. ‘Are you kidding me?’ queried the customer. ‘No,’ replied the salesperson. ‘When you buy here you are certain to meet the owner one way or another.’
While many are impressed with the fact that despite all the construction and creation of the new facility Tom Denecker and his staff never closed or stopped providing quality service to their customers. The real celebration going on April 21st and April 22nd is simpler than that. It is a celebration of how drive, tenacity, commitment and above all service can translate dreams into reality. So stop in on Saturday, April 23rd for a test drive, have a hot dog and shake hands with the man with the biggest grin in the crowd. That will be Tom Denecker.