Happy Birthday Countryside!
Twenty years and 4,000 vehicles after opening its doors, Countryside Auto Sales is still going strong in Minneota. John Noyes and his wife, Julie, purchased the property which houses his used automobile dealership from Hanley Falls Elevator in January of 2000.
The unused wood-framed elevator on Jefferson Street near Highway 68 was razed before the watchful eyes of many in the community. The Minneota City Council issued Noyes a zoning permit, allowing him to construct a new building on the lot once the elevator was demolished and removed.
“The elevator didn’t need the building, so it’s good that it can be removed to make way for something like a dealership,” then-Mayor Joanne Myrvik told the Mascot in a June 10, 2000 issue.
“The property will become more of an asset to the downtown area.” Soon after, the Countryside office and shop were built. “Our office sits right where the elevator stood,” Noyes noted. Noyes got his dealership license in 1991 and started Countryside Auto on his farm outside of Porter, where he and his wife still live.
“I needed a three-quarter ton pickup and could not afford one, so I bought one with front-end damage,” he told. “To my surprise, it wasn’t much different working on that than it was fixing my farm equipment.”
Noyes then revealed that it was repairing that damaged pickup that led to his start in selling vehicles.
“Of course, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut,” he said. “Soon, my neighbors were giving me orders to get them one, too. I was getting too many orders, so I got my dealer license and started going to dealer auctions and buying good used vehicles.”
Nancy Longhenry began working part-time for Countryside Auto in Porter and has been Noyes’ office manager/bookkeeper for all 20 years he has had the business in Minneota. “We have some customers who have bought more than one car from us over the years,” said Longhenry. “And their children have bought cars from us, too.”
Longhenry feels Countryside’s longevity stems from Noyes “not being afraid to think outside the box”. “He has good people skills and can basically get along with anybody,” she added. “We have a very casual and friendly atmosphere here at Countryside, with a hot cup of coffee always on and a laugh or two to go with it.”
Noyes also has three other employees working for Countryside Auto; Art Berghorst is a detailer who has been with the business for the last 71/2 years; Liz Davis has been an office assistant for five years; and Ray Rasmussen has worked in the shop for one year.Noyes began operating in Minneota with 15 vehicles on his lot. He generally keeps around 25 to 30 different vehicles on the lot at one time now. Approximately 4,000 vehicles have been sold by Countryside Auto Sales over the years.
“We get the vehicles from dealer auctions, trade-ins, and we have contacts with bigger dealers and buy some of their trades,” Noyes said. “We have all used vehicles of all types.” Noyes feels the top priority of owning a business is taking care of your customers. “We have a real good customer base,” he said.
“We have them call us and give us the specifics of what they want. And we will ask them specific questions, too.” When Noyes attends an auction, he utilizes those specific customer details when looking for a vehicle for them. “It makes you feel good when they call and tell you what they want, and wait for you to find their vehicle,” Noyes remarked. “We have gained a lot of trust through the years.” But Noyes also revealed that it’s hard to make a living just selling cars.
“So I diversified,” he said “Most people do not know this, but we have a second business, Rugged Rock, Inc., which goes all over the United States and works with various wind tower companies. “Last year, we decommissioned 137 towers by Lake Benton. We had an average of 18 employees all summer on that job.” Because of that other venue, Noyes spends a lot of time away from the car dealership. “Nancy has become the ‘boss’,” he said. “
She has been around so long that she does the buying and selling of vehicles and can give estimates on trade-ins. So she can do the deal from start to finish.”
And Longhenry is appreciative of those she has been dealing with from her desk at Countryside Auto Sales. “We would like to thank all of our customers over the years,” she said. “And a big thank you to all who have helped out in any way, from driving cars back from Minneapolis, to going for supplies.”
As Myrvik predicted 20 years ago, Countryside has proven to be an asset in Minneota.