by BETH ALTENA After serving the community for nearly two-and-a-half decades, John Decker Chevrolet is being sold and will now operate as Ed Koehn Chevrolet. The family-owned dealership, located at 4650 14 Mile Road in Rockford, employs about 20 people, including John Decker’s two sons, JD Jr. and Jason. According to John, the new owners have agreed to secure all employees’ jobs with the exception of himself. “I’ve been made a generous offer to go away,” he said. At 58 years of age, Decker said he has been in the car business since 1974 and opened John Decker Chevrolet in September 1987. Pressures of Michigan’s flagging economy were part of the reason Decker decided to sell. “I’m too young to retire, but I’m not too young to get away from the pressure of doing business in Michigan,” he stated. “I’ve struggled with mortgages and borrowing money just like everyone else.” He said the last couple of years were not what he had hoped. Decker said he sees the future of dealerships as operations like Koehn’s, selling multiple brands with more than one dealership. He said the advantages, from ordering stationary to advertising, give multiple-dealership operations a financial advantage. Decker said he has been in negotiations on and off since last June and at one point had three letters of intent to purchase on his desk at one time. He wanted to dispel rumors of the dealership closing. “I’ve seen others go away like Northland Pontiac and I didn’t want to see that happen,” he said. “Rockford needs a dealership.” “This is a great deal,” Decker said of the sale. He is pleased that his long-term employees, including his boys, will continue to have jobs and said new owners Aaron and Ed Koehn have plans to double the number of jobs the dealership is able to offer. “They anticipate doubling staff by the end of the year,” he said. The dealership has been a strong community and Rockford Chamber of Commerce supporter over the years, annually sponsoring hole-in-one free car contests for the Chamber and other organizations, as well as oil change fundraisers for North Kent Community Services. “I’ve enjoyed getting to know the family: John and his wife Connie and their sons,” said Brenda Davis, […]
February 3 2011
by BETH ALTENA Anyone visiting the Squire office may have noticed a yellowed newspaper framed and hanging on our wall. It’s old, but you would have to look closely to see the significance. Dated February 8, 1871, the print on the brittle paper reads that it is Issue 1, Volume 1. This week The Rockford Squire newspaper, then in business as The Rockford Weekly Register, passes a milestone of its 140th year in operation, the oldest business in the City of Rockford. Happy birthday to Rockford’s original hometown newspaper! The newspaper is an important member of the community, and we are excited to see another year of publishing for the residents of Rockford. Our coverage area is the Rockford school district—100 square miles of people with stories to tell and news to share. When kids visit our office, we show them old cameras and photos and hold up copies of the paper going back more than 100 years. We tell them about how the industry has changed—we publish in color, with photos. Cameras are digital and computers deliver our “pages” to the printer. We still have the original lead letters that were used to put stories in, one letter and space at a time for each article, but those days are long gone. When the paper was young, Rockford didn’t have electricity, cars or telephones. The paper was here to report all that new stuff coming to town. Today, in our 140th year, technology is beyond those first editors’ imaginations, but essentially the business of newspapering is exactly the same. Advertisers pay for the newspaper and residents receive it free. We have news we write ourselves about people we sit down and talk with. Readers call and tell us when we make a mistake—which we do appreciate. Part of reaching and passing a milestone anniversary is the opportunity to reflect. When attending Rockford Area Historical Society meetings, much material comes from the editions of the old Register. People also often come in to get back issues or photocopy the bound books we have of all of our editions going back a number of years. We have 30 years worth, but the historical society has issues going back to that first issue in 1871. You can […]
Eight businesses honored for 2010 contributions The Rockford Chamber of Commerce (RCC) celebrated its 50th anniversary as it hosted the annual Meeting of the Membership on Friday, Jan. 28. The premier event took place at the headquarters of Wolverine World Wide Inc. in the Geoffrey B. Bloom Auditorium, with more than 100 RCC members in attendance. Eight RCC businesses were honored during the evening for their contributions in the business arena, along with volunteerism and contributions within the community during 2010. The winners in each category for the Business of Distinction merit awards were: • Dining/Entertainment: The Corner Bar • Manufacturing: Wolverine World Wide, Inc. • New Business: Institute for Neuromuscular Medicine and Rehabilitation • Quality of Life: Rockford Area Arts Commission • Retail: Double Take Resale, LLC • Service: Nance-Martin Accounting Service There was a tie in the Business of the Year category, with Herman’s Boy Inc. and Fluis Inc. sharing the honor. Both companies attributed their success to the unwavering support of the Rockford community. Tom Rademacher, author and columnist for The Grand Rapids Press, addressed the attendees as keynote speaker. He entertained the crowd by spinning tales from his vast experience as a writer, earning laughs and sharing lessons. “This was an incredible way to celebrate our 50th year,” said RCC Executive Director Brenda Davis. “We have a strong chamber due to our membership and the people who contribute so much of their time to make it a success. This includes the board of directors, our staff and the many volunteers who selflessly give their talents to strengthen the commerce of the Rockford area. It is the vision that our founders had in 1961 and we still carry that same dedication to helping area businesses today.”
Bill allows 16-year-olds to give blood Melissa Meitz, Donor Relations Specialist for Michigan Blood, recently announced the results of the blood drive held Monday, Jan. 3, at the Rockford Community Cabin. “It was a great start to 2011,” Meitz reported. She said 67 people signed in and donated a total of 57 units of blood. This allows 171 lives to be saved. One of the donors was giving blood for the first time. Meitz reported that there were several people reaching a milestone of gallons donated. They were Sandra Mellema and Kyle Smoes at one gallon each, Michelle Blystone at two gallons, Gene Birdsall and Ronald Szokowski at three gallons each, Jacqueline Decker and C. Worst at four gallons each, Debra Rinehart with five gallons, and Lauri Calkins reaching nine gallons of blood donated. The next local Michigan Blood blood drives will be at the Community Cabin, 220 N. Monroe Street, Rockford, on Tuesday, Feb. 8, from noon to 6 p.m. “Also, I am sure you have heard the great news about 16-year-old donors,” Meitz reported. “In December a bill was passed allowing 16-year-olds to donate with parent or guardian permission. Jennifer Granholm signed it in as law at the end of the year, so we are now able to accept 16-year-old donors.” Meitz said Michigan is the 40th state to pass the legislation. “We are really excited about it,” she said. “Now we just have to spread the word.” The permission slip for 16-year-old donors can be found online at miblood.org/donating/donating-blood/16-year-old-donors/:. Michigan Blood is located at 1036 Fuller NE in Grand Rapids.
Foreign high school students are scheduled to arrive in August for an academic home-stay program, and CASE exchange student programs is seeking host families in the Rockford area. The students are 15 to 18 years old, speak English, have their own spending money, carry full medical insurance, and are eager to share their cultural experiences with their new American families, according to the local representative, Rick Wiltse of Wyoming. “There really is no typical host family,” said Wiltse. “CASE can match almost any student with a host family, as long as they are willing to share their active American lifestyle with a teen from another country.” Once qualified, host families are able to review student applications from Europe, South America or Asia, and select the best match for their family lifestyle. Those families volunteering early on in the process have the opportunity to begin corresponding with their exchange student and getting to know him/her before August arrival. Families who host for CASE are eligible to claim a monthly tax deduction on their tax returns for each month they host an exchange student. CASE is a nonprofit, public service organization with headquarters in Saddle Brook, N.J. To learn more about hosting an exchange student in 2011, contact Rick Wiltse toll free at 1-877-417-9675.