CLINTON — Baum Chevrolet-Buick recently marked its 91st year in May
The Baum story began in the 1920s in Carlock. Arthur “Art” Baum had just moved to central Illinois from southern Indiana in hopes of finding steady work.
Art found a job at the local dealership, owned by Clarence Stutzman, helping repair vehicles and just about anything else that was brought in. During this time, car dealerships were more of a gas station/handy-man shop that just happened to sell a few vehicles.
After Stutzman’s untimely death in 1928, Art was given the opportunity to purchase the dealership.
Art steered the dealership and gas station through the Great Depression and World War II, experiencing fuel rations, vehicle shortages, hard times and eventually, good times.
Art practiced a high level of customer service in those days, giving personal loans to families;banks wouldn’t finance automobiles at the time, personally operating a 24/7 wrecker service and growing his company from two employees to seven.
During this time, Art began teaching and involving his only son, Richard. Richard became an operating partner in 1948, helping his father run and operate all aspects of the dealership.
As time went by, Chevrolet began to phase out smaller dealerships. Seeing the writing on the wall, Richard took a risk and purchased Holtz Chevrolet in Clinton, from the retiring Carl Holtz.
In 1964, Richard moved the franchise and his family to Clinton. Suddenly, this small town dealer became a medium-sized company, employing 15 people.
Richard quickly became a respected member of the community and Clinton became his new hometown. Richard focused on growing the still-quaint dealership, experiencing some hard times and good times through the 70s and 80s. Richard continued the 24/7 wrecker service in Clinton and added a full-service body shop in the mid-80s.
As Richard’s children grew, they began to get involved in the dealership. Stephanie, Stephen, and Scott all had their turn doing various tasks, including mowing, cleaning, and other odd jobs.
After college, each one became involved full-time. The eldest, Stephanie, started in payroll in 1981 and eventually became the office and personnel manager. She retired in 2018.
Stephen, the eldest son and middle child, began selling vehicles in the late seventies, becoming general sales manager in 1982. Sadly, he passed away in 2003.
The youngest, Scott, focused on the back end of the dealership, working in fixed operations. In 1992, Scott became a 3rd generation dealer and assumed the general manager role.
Through his leadership, Baum Chevrolet Buick has added a used car satellite store in Farmer City, a Quick Lube and a detail center. Scott and his siblings have worked to grow the business to over 70 employees.