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EL PASO — Marty Rebbec was 12 when he got his first job. Hired by his father, Robert, Marty washed cars for Rebbec Motor Co. in downtown El Paso.

“This is the only business I’ve ever known,” Marty said.

Rebbec Motor Co. is celebrating 65 years this year and Marty said a lot of people have worked hard during that time, including family and employees.

“I’m grateful,” he said. “But looking back through the years, it just doesn’t seem all that long in some respects.”

In August 1952, Robert Rebbec was working at a farm implement store in El Paso when he learned that the local Buick dealership was up for sale. He never had a desire to be in car sales, but he did want to own his own business.

He bought the former Boyd Motor Co., changed the name to Rebbec Motor Co., and operated the dealership until he stepped back from daily operations in 1978. He died at the age of 96 on Jan. 31, 2016, at his home in Arizona.

But Marty and his brother, Bob, grew up in the dealership, washing and cleaning cars and then learning the business and sales end of it. Bob came into the business full time in 1971 after his release from the Army; Marty joined the business full time in 1976 after receiving his degree in accounting from the University of Illinois.

Bob purchased Wiley Pontiac Buick in Bloomington in 1980 and had a long career in Bloomington, retiring around 2005. Marty stayed at the El Paso store and added GMC Trucks in 1982. In 2000, Marty added a Chevrolet franchise, allowing Rebbec to have Chevrolet, Buick, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and GMC under one roof.

“At that time, there were over 100 different models that were offered between those five different franchises,” Marty said. “That made it interesting to know what models to stock in a small store with a limited inventory.”

Oldsmobile ended production in 2004; Pontiac followed in 2010.

“But we really haven’t changed much at all,” Marty said. “We are celebrating 65 years of a small-town, family-owned business that is still operating with the same philosophy as in the past, ‘Hometown friendly with a big city selection.’”

The official company name remains Rebbec Motor Co. but uses Rebbec Chevrolet Buick GMC for branding purposes.

Marty’s son and general manager, Jeff, played a big role in the decision to build an all-new 15,500-square-foot-dealership near Interstate 39, which was finished in 2014. The building includes a state-of-the-art service department and much better display space than the original facility.

The five-acre lot allowed the dealership to double its inventory to about 300 new and used vehicles. Rebbec also added staff members; about 30 people are employed at the business now. But a new building is only cosmetic, Marty said.

“Qualities such as personal, friendly, customer relations are as important today as they were 65 years ago,” he added. “But we have always been about family here and that’s important and something we are proud of.”

As for looking ahead, Marty thinks there are another 65 years left in the business.

“Our plan for the future is just more of the same,” he said. “We’re in this new building. It’s a great location. We have great people here and we are looking forward to the future.”

Follow Kevin Barlow on Twitter: @pg_barlow


Agriculture Reporter

Agriculture reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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