Ettleson Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Inc.
Mike Ettleson started working at his Dad’s dealership, Celozzi-Ettleson Chevrolet, in 1971 when he was 13 years old. He worked part time as a porter throughout high school, full time in the summers at age 15, and on Saturdays during the school year.
Ettleson shared that he is proud to be a second generation dealer, and was always proud of his dad for the dealership he had built. “I knew from a very young age that I loved cars and wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps. I would get so excited when the new model year vehicles arrived at the dealership.”
When we asked him what his father’s work motto or legacy is that continues at the dealership today, he stated, “It’s just the Golden Rule: Treat everyone, customers and employees, like you want to be treated yourself.”
Ettleson’s advice he would give his younger self was, “spend a good amount of time working in each department, getting to know what it takes to do each job well.”
He shares that being able to hire good people is difficult today, from salespeople to technicians and everything in between is very hard. “I think the next hardest thing is being able to give customers an experience beyond their expectations, which are very high today. The advice I would give is be ready to work some long hours, and the business is cyclical; not all days are good, but if you work at it, it can be very rewarding.”
When asked about the importance of being involved in local, state or national associations, Ettleson stated: “Dealers as a group provide a lot of jobs and tax dollars to their communities and the state as a whole; we need to have a unified voice to prevent laws that hinder us and make laws that help us and our customers, and we need leadership at the association level to make this happen.”
We asked Ettleson to share a funny story or memory of his late father. “The one funny story that comes to mind happened when my dad and I took my two sons to a Chicago Bulls game. Keep in mind my dad and his partner were on TV in Chicago very much in those days. I was sitting with one of my sons and my dad was with my other son a few rows down from us. My dad was on the aisle, and as I looked over at him there were two attractive women kneeling down right next to my dad. I think one was even on his lap; they just wanted a picture with my dad because he was on TV so much; it was very funny.”
Illinois Automobile Dealers Association