Owner of state's oldest franchised auto dealer sells business to retire

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MINDEN - The state's oldest franchised automobile dealer has been purchased by the Carson City owners of Valley Chevrolet.

Dennis Plummer and Mike Tiehm, both 60, bought the assets of C.O.D. Motor Co. in Minden, including its sales, service and parts departments on Dec. 18.

"I was just a sleepy little dealer who made good deals," said C.O.D. patriarch Don Hellwinkel, 82, who owned the businesses with his wife, Marlena, and son Robb. "They are going to make it a pretty big deal and going to put more cars there than we ever had.

"We want to thank the community for being good and loyal customers. I am going to miss it," Hellwinkel said. "You don't just walk away from something like this, but it's time for me to retire. I want to go into the mountains and go trail riding, and now there is nothing to hold me back."

The garage's initials stood for the garage's founder Clarence O. Dangberg, the brother of Minden's founder, H.F. Dangberg Jr.

Tiehm and Plummer have been in business together for 10 years. The new dealership is called Carson Valley Chevrolet Buick and will sell new and used cars. They also own Valley Chevrolet in Carson City and Plummer Pontiac Cadillac GMC Buick in Lodi, Calif.

Tiehm will run the Valley dealership. He was born and raised in Reno and lives in Carson City with his wife, Cookie.

"We want to be a full-service dealership serving Carson Valley so people don't have to go to Reno and Carson City," he said. "We will absolutely be bigger. We are stocking 100 new vehicles and probably 30, 40 used."

In addition, Robb Hellwinkel said his family is building a service department behind the dealership that will be leased to Tiehm and Plummer, like the building and land is now.

With the new owners, the American Automobile Association contract for towing in Carson City was lost. Don Hellwinkel said it went to a towing company in Carson City. C.O.D. Motor Co. was the oldest franchised automobile dealer in the state and the oldest AAA contract station. Plummer said they have submitted an application to contract for AAA.

"We have three-A in our facility in Lodi, and we do thousands of tows a month," he said. "We have put in an application, and we will see how it goes."

Robb Hellwinkel said Tiehm and Plummer will use the building across from the Minden Inn on Esmeralda Avenue for the main office until the new 12,000-square-foot service department is constructed.

After that, he said, he will look for retail tenants for the building. As for the property where the old C.O.D. barn stood, he has had inquiries, but nothing is definite. The family plans to auction off many items that have been in the buildings for decades. After a preview on March 12, the auction will be March 13-14.

Contact Regina Purcell at rpurcell@recordcourier.com or 782-5121.


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