CALUMET - A business started in Calumet more than 80 years ago has had many owners and name changes, and both have changed one more time.
Parkway Chevrolet Buick GMC is now Kissel Chevrolet after a recently completed sale.
George Kingstrom, owner of Parkway, said he and partners Dave Shannon and Mike Bessolo acquired the business in 1993.
Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Parkway Chevrolet Buick GMC in Calumet is now Kissel Chevrolet after a sale completed Feb. 21. Inventory of new vehicles from Kissel Chevrolet in L’Anse will be transferred to the Calumet location.
"We took over from Wade Chevrolet," he said.
The automobile retailer, which has been in the same location on Fifth Street since the late 1920s, began as Public Chevrolet, Kingstrom said. In 1970, Doug Mechlin bought it and renamed it Public Chevrolet Olds and Cadillac. In 1988, Bob Wade bought the dealership and renamed it Wade Chevrolet Olds and Cadillac, and that's when he got into the business end of the company.
"I was a partner with Bob Wade," he said.
Between 1988 and 1993, Kingstrom said Shannon and Bessolo purchased stock in the company, and it was all three who made the decision to move on.
"Dave, Mike and I all sold the business," he said.
The dealership was sold to Brian Kissel, owner of Kissel Chevrolet and Olds in L'Anse.
"Brian called us up a couple of years ago," Kingstrom said. "He was interested in it."
Kingstrom said he and Shannon plan to retire, and Bessolo is staying on as service manager for Kissel.
Shawn Autio, marketing director and sales representative at Kissel Chevrolet, said Brian Kissel started making inquiries about buying Parkway two years ago, but it wasn't able to happen at that time.
"The deal went on hold for a while," Autio said.
Last year, Autio said Kissel began talking again with Kingstrom and General Motors officials about purchasing the business, and there were many logistics involved.
"It took a little time," he said.
Eventually, Autio said GM became convinced Kissel would be a good choice for buying Parkway and approved it. The sale completed Feb. 21.
"It's no longer Parkway," he said. "It's Kissel Chevrolet."
Autio said GM wants its new dealerships to either be in new buildings or significantly upgraded existing buildings, which means Kissel may have to make some changes.
"Brian is weighing his options," Autio said. "Nothing is set in stone."
Kissel had an interest in Parkway because he wanted to make his business larger, Autio said.
"He was looking to expand more into the Houghton and Keweenaw counties area," he said.
The current inventory of new vehicles in L'Anse will be transfered to Calumet, Autio said, and the L'Anse location will become Kissel Automotive, selling used vehicles and servicing current customers.
Autio said Kissel opened in L'Anse in 1971 as a Jeep dealership by Brian's grandfather, Virgil Kissel Sr., his uncle, Bob Kissel, and father, Virgil Kissel Jr. They eventually started selling Chevrolet. Brian Kissel bought it in 1999.
The deal for Kissel to buy Parkway Motors worked well for both sides, Autio said.
"Everybody came out where they wanted to be in the end," he said.
Kingstrom said this was his 43rd year in the automobile business. He started in the parts department at Public Chevrolet Olds when he was 20 years old and worked his way up to ownership. He, Shannon and Bessolo have a combined 112 years experience.
He doesn't really have any regrets about getting out of the business, Kingstrom said.
"I'm ready to retire," he said. "It's time."