By Jim Misunas
LARNED — The friends and customers of Al Hanken Motors gathered for the city’s worst-kept secret — owner Don Hanken was selling the business to Terry Taylor.
The newly-named Auto Pro will be open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The phone number is (620) 285-3141.
Al Hanken Motors, located at 601 Toles since 1957, has been in business since 1952 when Don’s father Al opened his business.
Al Hanken Motors was among 2,000 General Motors dealers which lost its franchise in 2009-2010. But the business continued to thrive, thanks to a reputable service department and the sale of used vehicles. Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain were popular sellers.
Don Hanken’s speech
“I want to welcome everyone to help us celebrate our 62nd anniversary here in Larned.
“When my dad bought Millaway Pontiac in 1952 there were 10 new car dealers in Larned. We originally started in a two-story building where the Farmers Bank drive-in window is located.
“In 1957, he acquired the Buick franchise and we’ve been in this building ever since. In 1958, he was able to get the Rambler franchise. In 1981, we bought out Paul Chance Olds Cadillac, which was located where the Scout Museum is located.
“My wife and I were living in Overland Park in 1975 after graduating from Hutchinson Community College and Fort Hays State. I was working at Phillips Petroleum and JCPenney.
“When my dad told me he had an opportunity to sell the dealership to a buyer, he wanted to know if we wanted to come back and run the place, which had always been a dream of mine. We picked up and moved back. This is my 39th year in living in Larned. We’ve had a wonderful experience working here.
“Working beside my dad was a learning experience. I figured I didn’t have to do much. He made me work in every department from washing cars, changing oil, working with the service techs to parts department to accounting and finally sales. His philosophy was that unless I knew what was going on in each department I wouldn’t know how to manage the whole dealership. It was a smart idea to know what you’re doing. My dad and I worked side-by-side six days a week from 1975 until his passing in 1993. It is an experience I’ll always remember.
“At one time, I was bashful. I had to learn to start talking more.
“I couldn’t run this dealership without dedicated employees and I’d like to take a moment to introduce some of them starting with Larry Clawson, who has worked with me for 36 years. We hired him in 1978. He has been a loyal and hard-working employee.
“Betty Delaney has been our office manager for 23 years. If the truth be known, she really ran the place. She was the Little Red Hen of Al Hanken Motors because she did a lot more than accounting. She’d sweep the floors, run for parts and take customers home and bring them back.
“Loren Lane has worked with us for 15 years. He’s our head technician. He is great with figuring out these newer cars and their computers.
“I want to express my sincere appreciation to these employees. This place wouldn’t have run without them.
“It’s hard to be believe we’ve been back for 39 years, but like the old saying goes, “Time flies when you’re having fun.”
“I turned 68 this year. I know that’s hard to believe. Our grandkids are getting involved in school activities. We’ve love to visit them more.
“I have really enjoyed being back here and being a part of the community for all this time.
“Speaking of customers, Eileen Bayer told me she and her husband bought a new Pontiac in 1952. She’s been a customer ever since.
“Today, we celebrate our 62nd anniversary, but there will not be a 63rd anniversary as I’d like to announce that my wife and I are retiring effective July 11. We have sold the service business to Terry Taylor and his wife. They will continue to do all the same service work that we did only under the new name of Auto Pro.
“We started on this process in February.
“Monday, July 21, the Al Hanken Motors name will come down where it has been since 1957. The new name Auto Pro will be put in its place.
“I would like to introduce the new owners as I’m sure Terry Taylor has a few words. I would hope that you all continue to support Terry and his wife Teri. We need to support local businesses, which help support Larned the surrounding area.”