Turpin Motors has been putting vehicles on Geneseo-area roads for 50 years
Since 1972 Marion "Turp" Turpin has considered Geneseo “a good town to do business in and to live in.”
It was 50 years ago when he and his family moved to Geneseo and opened Turpin Motors, which is now located at 1024 South Chicago St.
The business will note having been in business for 50 years on Saturday, Sept. 10.
On Sept 16, 1972, Turpin purchased the Geneseo Dodge dealership from Frank Ward at a time when, just days before, he hadn't been sure where Geneseo was located.
In 1972, he was working as general manager of his father-in-law’s Dodge dealership in Dubuque, Iowa, when he was approached by Chrysler Motors about the Dodge dealer in Geneseo who was retiring and did Turpin have any interest in owning the dealership.
He admits that he then asked, “Where’s Geneseo?” …He remembered that it was in June of that year when he drove down Oakwood Ave. in Geneseo, “and it was an impressive small community,” he said.
“I bought the store (dealership) from Frank Ward in June of 1972 on a handshake,” Turpin said. “Chrysler approved us on Sept. 16 1972.”
The dealership was located in the former Armory building on North State St.
In 1973, Turpin purchased property on South Chicago St., which is the current location of the business. ”We began construction of two new facilities in August of 1978 and moved there in 1979," he said.
The Turpin family bought the Lincoln-Mercury franchise in 1975 and Turpin explained, “That is why there are two locations. We sold the Lincoln-Mercury franchise in 1982 and bought Kittrell Chevrolet- Oldsmobile franchise in November of 1989.”
Marion Turpin and his wife, JoAnn, have three children, Julia (Ken) Koehler, Glenview, IL; two sons, Tim (Lori), Geneseo, who is now owner/manager of both dealerships in Geneseo; and Patrick, (Nikki), Dubuque, who is owner/manager of Turpin Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep & Ram in Dubuque.
Tim Turpin began working at the dealership in 1979 when he started moving the grass. His mother recalled, “He couldn’t read the clutch pedal on the mower. Pat started working in 1992 when he would wash cars and cut grass.”
In the early 2000’s Patrick Turpin moved to Dubuque to take over that dealership while Tim worked with his father at the Geneseo dealership. In August of 2015, Turp’s sons assumed total management of the business in Geneseo and Dubuque after their dad was seriously injured in an aviation accident.
In reminiscing about the business, Marion Turpin commented that in the beginning years there were four employees and that number increased through the years to as many as 30 employees.
He said, “1973 was a good year, and in 1974 there was a gasoline shortage which made it not so good.”
When asked about his biggest accomplishment, he answered, “Spouse and family and the years spent on the National Dodge Dealer Council in Detroit during the Iacocca years.”
He served as president of the Chrysler Dealers in Chicago Zone Advertising Council for 25 years.
And his comment about the biggest benefit of being in business in Geneseo was, “All the loyal customers, all our friends. We have many, many good, loyal customers, too many to name.”
“There have been many good times for us here,” he said. “This is a close-knit town where people look after each other and take care of their property. It’s a good town to do business in and to live in.”