Yemm Chevrolet Buick GMC Chrysler Jeep
Rick Yemm first started at the family dealership in 1972 as a part-time, summer job in the Detail/Clean-up department. Rick’s father, Richard “Dick” Yemm, bought the Chevy dealership with a business partner, Ray Weaver, in 1961.
As a second-gen dealer, Yemm said, “I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to carry on the family business and continue serving our customers. My father and I worked together for 43 years and I treasure those memories.”
When we asked Yemm what his father’s work motto or legacy is that continues at the dealership today, he states: “Dad valued our employees and treated them like family. He knew that a happy and enabled employee who understood the value of a customer was priceless. It was true in 1951 when Dad began his automotive career and is still true today — it’s not just a business. We feel fortunate to be a part of the community and involved in the lives of our employees and customers.
Yemm’s daughter, Sara Yemm-Witherell, carries on the tradition as a third-generation employee. Yemm proudly shares, “There is a great sense of pride in having a child follow in your footsteps into the family business. With that comes the reality that working together requires a balance between family life and the working relationship. Sara takes her role here very seriously and puts in long hours for the benefit of the dealership. Her knowledge of the business has grown exponentially, and I am very excited for her to begin NADA Academy this fall.”
We asked Yemm, in his opinion, what is the biggest obstacle for dealers today. He said, “Preserving capital by controlling expenses, in addition to hiring and retaining quality employees, are the greatest challenges.”
His advice to young dealers starting in the industry today was, “Find a successful dealer you respect and who is willing to advise and mentor you through the challenges that lie ahead.”
When asked about the importance of getting involved in local, state or national associations, Yemm says, “As history has shown, dealers have a stronger voice and better representation when working together as an association. The IADA leadership team has provided our dealers with the knowledge and resources needed to access legislators making important decisions about our industry. Without this, positive change would not be as likely. Illinois automobile dealers must invest time and financial support to help accomplish our goals.”
Lastly, we asked Yemm to share a few words about working with his late father. He said, “Dad felt that the car business was not just a job, but rather, his passion. He was a true car guy, the ultimate salesman, and a people person. To hear him recall the specific details of a car purchased 50 years prior, to that same customer, was nothing short of amazing.”
The Illinois Automobile Dealers Association