Benson's Chevrolet, on Main Street in Ludlow, is one of those rare businesses - for over 80 years it has been owned and operated by the same family.
George Benson is the third generation to run this auto dealership, started by his grandfather in 1928. At that time, it was located south of Ludlow. The current location, in a building that was at one time a school house, was moved into sometime in the early 1940s.
George says that the company has also sold cars to multi-generations of area residents, and that it is still not unusual for older customers to come in who actually went to school in the building.
Benson's is, in fact, the oldest family operated Chevrolet dealership in Vermont, George said, and also one of the smallest. George and long time salesman Dave Jellie comprise the entire sales staff. His father, at 70, still comes in daily to help out.
George said that after getting an associates degree in business administration in 1986, he went to work at Benson's and has been there ever since, becoming the principal owner in 2002.
In his years with the company, he says he's seen tremendous changes in the automobile industry. Among the most important have been the advent of the computer age and a much more aware consumer, as well as the recent downturn in the American automobile industry.
"We get a lot of sales through the Internet," he said. "A lot of the negotiation is done before people come in. With a computer, you have all the information at your fingertips."
George said that Chevrolet has also responded to the changing economy, bringing out new, more economical models, including the Volt, an electric car with a gas powered generator that recharges the batteries on the road, if necessary. Chevy has also developed a new turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine that gets over 40 mpg.
For more information about Benson's Chevrolet, visit www.bensonschevy.com or call 228-4000.