Wednesday, September 25, 2013
DALLAS -- A new name will appear on the McMullin Motors building in downtown Dallas within the next few weeks.Salem-based Capitol Auto Group reached an agreement with Jerry McMullin, owner of McMullin Motors, Thursday for a one-year lease on the property with two three-year options.The announcement came as a surprise to many in Dallas that the family-owned business would be handing over the location to an outside company.For McMullin, the decision was not hastily made as the past five years have not been particularly kind to the business, with sales on an almost continuous decline.After 30 years, McMullin decided it was time to bow out of the car business."This year had been financially difficult, so I thought it was probably about time I needed to do something different," McMullin said. "I'm retirement age -- I'm turning 63 -- but I'll probably want to work, I don't think I can sit still too much."When the economic downturn fully took root in 2008 with the automotive industry crisis, family-owned businesses were hit the hardest, with many never fully recovering.The first sign of just how hard it was for McMullin came in 2010, when Chevrolet, after the bankruptcy of its parent company, General Motors, ended its 50-year affiliation with the dealership."Ever since the economy tanked in 2008, everybody dropped in business," McMullin said. "We just tried to recover and it's just been a long road. It's just now starting to pick up but I don't think I can weather it."McMullin's doors officially closed Sept. 30 with the deal all but set.Work on converting the dealership to accommodate its new owners began immediately after the deal was reached.The most tedious task for McMullin and his employees has been disposing of 30 years worth of confidential customer information."We have a lot of shredding to do. We will be sharing recent customers so they can be serviced and kept up with," McMullin said. "Thirty years of paper buildup -- I'm kind of wishing we would have cleaned out earlier."Though Capitol Auto is based in Salem and is a much larger company than McMullin Motors, it is a family-owned business and already has ties to Dallas and Polk County.Company president Scott Casebeer and his wife, Carrie, live just outside of Monmouth and Carrie is a member of the West Valley Hospital Foundation's board of directors.Scott Casebeer is hoping to open Capitol Auto West Valley, which will sell preowned vehicles and have an 11-bay service center, by mid-November once minor renovations are complete.Capitol Auto is also looking to retain several McMullin Motors employees after the transition."Jerry and I have known each other 25 or 30 years. I would stop by occasionally and say `hi' to him on my way to work," Casebeer said. "This sounded like a great opportunity, so we decided to put some effort into the Dallas and west valley community."