Hellwinkels’ end Minden dynasty | RecordCourier.com

Hellwinkels’ end Minden dynasty

by Regina Purcell, Staff Writer

The longtime family-owned C.O.D. Motor Company in Minden has officially changed hands to Carson City partners who plan to increase the business inventory and operate a new service department.

Dennis Plummer and Mike Tiehm, both 60, bought the C.O.D. assets, including its sales, service and parts departments last Thursday.

“I was just a sleepy little dealer who made good deals,” said 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. 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 trailriding and now there is nothing to hold me back.”

Tiehm and Plummer have been in business together for 10 years. The new dealership is Carson Valley Chevrolet Buick that will sell new, as well as, 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 the family is building a new service department behind the dealership that will also be leased to Tiehm and Plummer, as the building and land is now.

With the new owners, the American Automobile Association (AAA) contract for towing in Carson City was lost. Don Hellwinkel said it went to a towing company in Carson City for the time being. 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 the sale is emotional for the family.

“We are very pleased with the new owners,” he said, “and we will continue to work together.”

He 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 to take over 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 old buildings for decades. With a preview on March 12, 2004, the auction will be March 13-14, 2004.

“All we retained was our building and the land,” he said. “There are a lot of items that were not part of the sale and we will be auctioning off little pieces of history.”

Hellwinkel said the time was right for the sale, although it is bittersweet.

“I will miss it some ways, and not in others,” he said. “My dad will be able to enjoy his grandchildren and take some time off.

“We felt they were the best candidates for purchasing our business.”

Tiehm said Valley Chevrolet Buick employs 30 now, and will increase the number of employees once the service department is operational. The business is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday.

– Regina Purcell can be reached at rpurcell@recordcourier.com or (775) 782-5121, ext. 211.