Thursday, January 26, 2006

Blair, Nebraska

If you come visit me, you might well travel thru Blair, Nebraska. It's a small town of 7500 people. It's located about 25 miles from my house. Blair is 20 minutes from Omaha and so, is a bedroom community for Omaha, but it has a couple of noteworthy businesses.
Cargill built a plant there several years ago that continues to grow.
Most of Marilyn's boarding and grooming business comes from Blair.
But the most incredible business is the Woodhouse Auto Group. They employ 680 people. They have Ford, and Chrysler products in their Blair location. They actively sell and deliver cars to all states except Hawaii. And I don't know but maybe there too. Wherever you live in the U.S. you can call them up, order a car, and have it delivered to your door. And they'll probably beat the best price you can find. Their dealerships in Blair are in a valley, and as you drive by, and if you are observant, you start to notice cars. Cars EVERYWHERE. On the hilltops, hillsides, car lots here and there. Get This! (This is why I posted this) They have over 5500 cars in stock at their Blair stores.
If you've found the car you want, but it doesn't meet your specification because of options or color, they'll get it for you. In about 5 minutes. It you want a fleet of cars or trucks, in a certain color... they probably have them in stock.
They've been very, very, hard on the small dealers around the region. Just as Cargill was hard on the small elevators. But good business people, are good business people because they know how to adjust to the circumstances. Local, personal service, still wins in the auto business. The locals do their best to please. The competition from the big guys, only served to strengthen the resolve of the small dealers to do better. Local elevators who can take your corn at harvest, without delay, will win over a conglomerate with 4 hour truck lines. The small elevators now fill up at harvest and hold the grain until one of the big processors are ready for it. Most have remained open and are doing well in spite of predictions to the contrary.
I guess we all have to be able to adjust to our circumstances to survive and prosper. At what ever we do. Game on.


Miki said...

Hi, Cliff, thanks for stopping by my blog, I used one of your quotes in a new entry. I appreciate all that you said and continue to say to me, we are keeping a stiff upper lip, I promise! Anyhow, you are so right, with the advent of big business and big malls, the little guy has it rough. If you look at my hometown, it used to be the, I mean THE business community of the south shore of Suffolk County Long Island. Now, many of the family stores have not faired so well, but the ones that have and continue to do so, have focused and changed their styles and have continued to keep at least some of their customer base. Hopefully, there will come a "trendy" "new" idea, and small town business will become fashionable once again, Lord knows this country's value system needs an infusion of hometown service and knowledge!

Jamie Dawn said...

5500 cars seems like a LOT of cars. Nearly one per person in that small town. We're looking to buy Courtney a car pretty soon. She'll be 18 in May, so she needs her own wheels. We'll have to look into what Woodhouse Auto Group has to offer.

Rachel said...

Hi Cliff. Thanks for telling us about Blair. I checked out the Woodhouse Auto Group. They do have lots of cars! Interesting!

Anonymous said...

Hey Cliff, Thanks for telling me how many cars that Woodhouse has up on those hills. I didn't take time to count them on Saturday.
We were there and my grandson bought a blazer from them. He had it all checked out on the net and got a pretty good price by doing that. Phyllis

John Goerzen said...


You're right. Sometimes it's depressing to think about the onward march of the Walmarts of the world. And yes, we do shop there too, becuase there aren't any other good choices for a lot of grocery items.

But there are good choices for plenty of other things. We take our cars to a local mechanic. He owns his own shop and does pretty much everything himself. I went to pick up my car after work once. There was a note on the seat "Had to leave early for my daughter's soccer game. Your car is ready but your bill isn't. Drop by whenever to take care of it."

I'm quite sure the bill was lower than if I had taken it to a chain mechanic or dealer, too.

At work, we have our Internet connectivity through a small local company rather than a big national one such as Sprint. We pay more, though it's no fault of the local company (the telcos charge them more for access to lines). Reliable Internet is crucial for our business, and we like knowing we can call someone that knows more about Internet access than we do, and knows more about fixing it than we do.

After our fire, they called me up to offer to loan us whatever equipment we needed to get back up and running, even if it wasn't Internet related. Computers, battery backup units, whatever. No charge. Sprint would never have thought of doing that for us.

I could think of plenty more examples like that, I guess.

It's nice to work with people that know you as a person, not a statistic. And despite what they may say to the contrary, very few big companies have that attitude.

Jim said...

Blair has a Runza Restaurant too. A very nice, locally owned, franchised place.
Competition is McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, and Dairy Queen. No WhataBurger.
The bakery south of main street is a sure stopping place. Get there early. Six-ish.

Peter said...

It all sounds very much like Oz, a good business is a good business, regardless of where it is or how big it is.

Mike ( ex scientia, veritas ) said...

Interesting, I'll have to check 'em out. .... goin' with the flow flow; like a twig on a mighty stream. ;)

Good point, Cliff.

Dan said...

Dad, a friend of mine that works at Woodhouse said last year just in the month of June, 37 cars were stolen. They don't even know they're gone until later. I've heard the complaint department has the same problem.

Maria said...

So much insight into big business and the ways of the modern world.
I live in a small town that is slowly being taken over by Wal-Mart. My husband has a flag business and cannot possibly compete with their lower prices. All of our business is now down on the internet or by mail.

Nora said...

As someone who ran a small coffeehouse for years, I can tell you that every little bit helps.
People would occasionally comment that our coffee cost almost as much as Starbucks. I'd take a deep breath and do a little educating. I don't think that people realize the buying power that the big companies have. The reality is that Starbucks should be less expensive. I also realize that companies need to adjust to the current market.
That said, I still shop at the Mom and Pop places, and the companies that are good corporate citizens as much as possible. Hug your local retailer today!

poopie said...

Interesting! Living in a small burg myself, I get real sad sometimes watching the local retailers struggle to survive in spite of super-mega-stores. I'll give my business any day to a local over one of those big jobs.

JUST A MOM said...

OK when I want a new car I will remember to come here and check them out. The other stuff I am thinking it must be good too huh. How's it going trying to catch up.

Anonymous said...

I am not real happy with my experience with Woodhouse Motors in Blair, Nebraska. I know that my family and extended family will never buy another car from them.
When a young person comes to buy their first car. The salesperson should look at long term relation with this person and family, hoping to sell them more cars. We were going to come back and buy another car from them in a couple of months. Will never buy a car from them and will tell friends about our experience. We found out that they have different prices on vehicles for different people.
Nebraska law is so that even if you are unhappy with vehicle, next day you can not return it.
Becareful dealing with them.

Bradley Jensen said...

Hi Cliff (don't really know if you'll get this since it's so far back!)

On behalf of Woodhouse Auto Family, I just wanted to say "thanks" for the nice comments you had posted about us! Your blog is amazing to read with wonderful photos...I just googled' it a little while ago and then noticed that you spoke about Woodhouse. Thanks again Cliff, have a great night. -Bradley Jensen

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al myman said...

I found that if you put some after market items on a vehicle, woodhouse will not give you a break. When you take into consideration there document fee and delivery charge(if you are out of state) there price is the same if not more then a local dealer. I found this out the hard way. And after they sell you a vehicle thay forget you exist. They are very over rated.

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