PHOTO BY CHRISTINA McCUNE | DGKN
Top, from left, Cameryn is the third generation to help out at Kidron Kars. In 2005, her dad, Blaine Amstutz, took over from his parents, Lorene and Gordon Amstutz.
Kidron Kars’ original location 40 years ago on the square in Kidron.
Lorene and Gordon Amstutz at Kidron Kars’ second location in 1988 at 97 Kidron Road.
By JACQUI L. HERSHBERGER
SUGAR CREEK TWP. 8,424 – and counting.
Late last month, that’s how many vehicles over the past four decades have been personally procured by Gordon or Blaine Amstutz. All vehicles are carefully serviced and detailed and made ready to be perfectly matched with new owners to meet their needs.
This month marks the 40th anniversary of the business at Kidron Road and U.S. 30 that has been a staple in the community as a place to buy used vehicles since it first opened on the square in Kidron.
Currently spanning three generations in the Amstutz family, the business began in October 1980. Blaine Amstutz learned the ropes literally from the ground up. As a child, he began by helping out the family business by pulling weeds in flower beds. This was back when the used car dealership was in its original location next to a former cheese factory where The Killbuck Savings Bank Co., recently has been constructed.
Amstutz’s daughter, Cameryn, 22, began helping out this past year by detailing vehicles. Every so often, founders Gordon and Lorene Amstutz make an appearance, but they are enjoying retirement and have left Blaine in the driver’s seat. They are confident that their son continues to steer the business in the direction upon which it was founded: trust, integrity and respect.
How it started
About 50 years ago, Gordon Amstutz lived in Toledo, and worked selling cars. It was there that he learned how not to do business.
By the late 1970s, Amstutz moved back to the Kidron area and was running the family dairy farm. But, his interest in cars drew him to work selling new cars with Stutzman Motors in Berlin. During that time, many people from the Kidron and Dalton area came to buy cars. He saw a need for a used car dealership closer to home.
Amstutz rented a space that used to be a gas station, and Kidron Kars was born. His wife, Lorene, kept the books.
Besides building a customer base and earning a solid reputation, the Amstutzes had some fun with the business. Some may remember a popular publicity stunt in the early 1980s when Kidron Kars provided a photo op with a replica of “The General Lee” from the TV show, “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Painted orange with the iconic black 01 on the side, Amstutz and another dealer went in together to buy the 1969 Dodge Charger to help drum up more business.
In 1984, an opportunity opened up for the business to buy a more spacious and visible location at 97 Kidron Road – next to Shisler’s Cheese House. The family renovated the former machine shop and farm supply – and they grew busier.
Kidron Kars has only sold used cars, which are bought from private individuals, trade-ins from new car dealers, and auctions. Every Wednesday, Amstutz would spend the day buying inventory at auctions. His son, Blaine, remembers their family traveling to Arizona to visit relatives and riding home in clean rust-free Arizona cars that would then be sold.
In October 1995, Blaine Amstutz began working for the family business full-time. He always had an interest in working for the dealership, but wanted to experience what it was like to go out on his own first. Blaine attended junior college in Hesston, Kansas, to earn a two-year degree in electronics, and play baseball and soccer. He worked for a couple of years in electronics service and for a local company selling electronics and managing a store. He brought that experience with him when he returned to Kidron Kars.
For 10 years, the father-son duo worked together. Gordon retired in April 2005. Business demand was high enough that Blaine needed to continue with a full-time salesperson. Kidron Kars was blessed through the next seven years with quality sales employees that shared the Amstutz’s work ethics, morals and customer service ideals. Paul Magee, Marc Harvey, Joel Mast, and Brandon Amstutz helped take Kidron Kars through 2011. The trickle-down effect of the 2008 economy crash led Blaine to resume doing business as a “one-man show” like his father had done for his first 15 years. For most of the time since 2012, Blaine has operated the sales and out front responsibilities on his own.
Blaine’s daughter, Cameryn (Cami), followed in her fath-er’s footsteps and grew up in the business. She learned to clean cars before she was old enough to drive. In July 2019, Cameryn joined her Dad part time, handling most of the car detailing duties. The flexible hours work well for the young entrepreneur who has a house/ pet sitting and dog walking business and a passion for rescue animals. Cameryn is working toward 501c3 status for the organization she founded, The Humane Bean, which has rescued about 30 animals so far and finds foster homes for them. All donations go directly back into the rescue. More information is at “The Humane Bean” on Facebook and thehumanebean.carrd.co.