When the owners of Midway Motors convinced Lyle Ediger to take charge of its new General Motors dealership in Hillsboro, the company slogan, ?Come join the family,? took on a whole new meaning.
For Ediger, it meant re-joining a family that has been in his blood for two generations. The Hills?boro native started working at Irv Schroeder County Motors as a youth back in 1974, sweeping floors and reconditioning trade-in vehicles.
He got that job mostly because of his father, Joel, who put in 44 years as a salesman at the dealership before retiring in 1998, then drove cars for the dealership several years after that.
?Irv only gave me a chance because Dad said it was OK,? Ediger said. ?He asked Dad first, and Dad said, ?Yeah, I think he?d be OK.? That?s how it all started.?
Young Ediger made the most of the opportunity, advancing to a sales position in 1977 and eventually becoming sales manager, a position he held for 14 years.
A time away
A tightening economic climate at the dealership, combined the sudden need for open-heart surgery, prompted Ediger to resign his position and eventually take a sales role at Hillsboro Ford-Mercury.
?It was the first time I quit anything,? he said of the decision. ?It was right after my heart surgery. I just felt at this point in my life it was too much of a struggle because (the dealership) was struggling and I thought I better look elsewhere.?
When the invitation came to talk about a job in sales at Ford came, Ediger said he wasn?t sure he wanted to return to sales.
?After you?ve been through heart surgery, you start thinking a little bit,? he said. ?But at that point, I turned around and gave that a chance.?
Ediger said he learned a lot while working at Ford.
?I was there for three years and don?t regret it,? he said.
Even though his father died in 2005, Ediger said some members of his family weren?t thrilled with the move.
?I had relatives tell me my dad would probably roll over in his grave if he knew I was selling Fords,? he said with a smile. ?The first week, my little brother wouldn?t let me drive a Ford on Dad?s driveway, he was that strong about it.?
During Ediger?s time at Ford, the Hoover family acquired the local GM dealership. When the owners invited him to consider the general manager?s role, Ediger said the decision was both easy and difficult.
?It was easy in the fact that it was GM, and you?ve been born and raised GM,? he said. ?For three years I went to Ford and tried that. There?s nothing wrong with Ford, but GM?s in your blood.?
On board at Midway
Ediger stepped into the general manager?s role in 2010, overseeing the transition from the old location to the new one.
?It?s a whole different deal when you?re running the place, that?s for sure,? he said. ?You have all the good and the bad and the in-between that happens.
?To me it?s been a challenge. It?s been worth it, and to make people happy and keep the customer satisfied?that?s our goal. Sometimes that costs money, but you?ve got to do it.?
Ediger said serving the clientele is the most satisfying part of his role.
?You?re doing a service for people,? he said. ?If you have a quality product, or get something in a price range that works for them, it feels good. It really does.?
The ongoing challenging for him, and for each of the local car dealers, is to convince local buyers to give them a chance to compete for their business.
?You want to support the community, and you hope the community can support you also,? he said. ?The most challenging part is making people realize what kind of service they can get through our dealership, and that we want them to be part of the family.?
Ediger said Midway has proven to him that it is serious about its ?family? theme, including encouraging employees to attend their children?s activities even if it means missing some work time.
?It was one of things where I though, ?yeah, right,? but they actually do,? Ediger said. ?They just really believe in supporting your family and being there for their activities, which I think is really neat.?
Ediger said he enjoys the challenge of managing his family of employees.
?When you?ve got to make sure everybody is happy with what they?re doing, and so forth, it?s a challenge,? he said. ?The Good Lord made us all different. Everybody reacts to things a little bit different. That?s what makes life fun?or more challenging and interesting, at least.
?I enjoy people and trying to understand where they?re coming from.?
As the Hillsboro dealership prepares for its grand opening later this week, Ediger said he believes the company?s near $1 million investment to move to U.S. Highway 56 is paying off for the business and the community.
?We definitely feel the exposure has made a difference,? he said. ?We?re seeing an increase in numbers since we moved here?both in service and retail sales. You?re just more visible off the new highway.?
In turn, he said the highway exposure has advantages for the community, too.
?They did a good job as far building the place and the lighting is awesome,? Ediger said. ?They want to be something that promotes Hillsboro and brings people into Hillsboro.
?We see that every day when we?ve got people here and they walk across to Alco or go to the grocery store,? he added. ?It?s incredible how many time we see that. At the other place (on D Street) you really didn?t see it.?
As general manager, Ediger said he intends to carry on his father?s commitment to treat customers right.
?His key was being honest with people,? he said. ?In a small town that?s possible to do. You?re not looking at numbers as much as you?re looking at people. He believed in that until the day he died.
?That?s the kind of thing I like, too,? Ediger added. ?We?re doing a 125-point check on vehicles, we do a title search, and do all the stuff a small town should do to make sure people feel good about their purchase.
?It?s a nothing-to-hide type of thing. I like that.?