Harbor Automotive has some seasoned and knowledgeable sales staff, few more so than Dale Dodge, who has been with the dealership for 19 years now, and in the car business since 1984.
“They still put up with me,” Dodge laughed.
Initially, Dodge wanted to be a teacher but found the employment opportunities lacking, so he turned to a familiar topic of interest: cars. He got started in the automotive world as a young kid growing up in Maine around his father’s full-service Chevron Gas Station where he worked and helped with daily obligations.
“I used to help him around there when I was knee-high to a grasshopper,” said Dodge.
Dodge’s career would take him up through the ranks of the dealership world, which resulted in him taking on nearly every position aside from directly owning a dealership. He got out of management 19 years ago when his son needed a soccer coach, and this led him to a Harbor’s door, where he has found a fulfilling career.
“The difference in the daily experience of the job and interacting with the customer are what I like most,” said Dodge. “I had a boss tell me 25-30 years ago, ‘don’t lie to your customers, cause then you’ll never have to hide from your customers. Have fun with your customers because a guy down the road just wants to take their money, and once they find out, they’ll come back because they had fun with you,’”
Dodge takes this philosophy of straightforward honesty seriously and it has been the foundation of the way he carries out his job as a salesman.
“My dad told me the only thing you’re gonna leave behind, no matter how much wealth you incur, how much physical materials you incur, is your word, your name, and yourself. It’s how you walk that walk of life. It’s how people are going to remember you,” said Dodge earnestly.
This philosophy of honesty and customer care, beyond merely trying to sell a car at any cost, has led Dodge to a long career with referrals from not only children of former customers, but even grandchildren.
“It’s rewarding when you take care of that young couple or daughter who needs a car to take care of her mom because she can’t get around,” said Dodge.
Dodge attributes much of this success to his personal touch and old-fashioned sense of loyalty and courtesy. Every Holiday season he sends out hundreds of cards to clients featuring his wife, himself, and the Great Danes he rescues on their property in Belize.
“I’ve been to weddings, funerals, baby christenings. I become a friend and family member to most,” Dodge said.
Being from Maine, the beach has long been a part of Dodge’s life and part of why he feels so at home in Northwest Indiana. When he initially moved to Chicago, Dodge worked at a dealership there, and when offered a chance to manage a facility in Michigan City, he jumped at the chance. This would turn out to be a life changing decision in more ways than one.
“One of the guys took me around by Lighthouse Mall that had just opened, he took me by the waterfront, the beach, and I was like, ‘Sure!’” explained Dodge. “So, that’s how I ended up in Northwest Indiana and I met my wife on the store’s floor that I was running.”
In the decades since that floor room meeting, Dodge and wife, Judy, have started to realize their dream of having a place on the beach somewhere warm, and purchased five acres in sunny Belize. The property provides a welcome getaway for Dodge, who brings his dogs down south, and also puts his photography hobby to good use.
Taking pictures of the locals in the nearby fishing village, Dodge brings those photos home where he has them turned into matted and framed portraits which he brings back to them when he returns.
“They don’t have the means or money to do that down there, it’s a blessing to get to do that and see the tears and joy I get from the families,” said Dodge.
Though Dodge has a passion for the oceanic coast, he still likes to return to The Third Coast of Northwest Indiana where he has lived and worked for over two decades.
“It’s hard work, but it’s rewarding. The owner trusts me, it’s been a good fit,” said Dodge.
Portage, IN 46368
Visit Harbor Buick GMC Partner Profile