Updated: Jul 5, 2021
By Jeff Holt
Published April 1, 2021 in The Burg
Tim Ellison is retired.
He's been regarded as one of the top car salesmen in the Galesburg and is very well known. He left his mark at what was known as Galesburg Toyota.
But now, he's ready to shift gears into the retirement mode. Ellison took some time to answer a few questions before he officially steps down.
Q: What was it like for you when you first started selling cars?
ELLISON: It was different because I had previously worked 16 years for Gale Products in the factory. After this, I worked at National Coatings and did construction for 3 or 4 years. You had to become familiar with the cars, understand the specifics of what they had to offer, and educate the customer on what they were possibly going to purchase. The hours were quite a bit longer. I started selling for Bob Lindsay back in 1986 for Lindsay's Olds, Honda, and Toyota downtown on Chambers Street. On October 5th, 1987, we opened the new dealership right in front of the mall. Bob Lindsay sold the business to an auto group from Wisconsin in April of 2007. The new ownernship had even longer hours (Monday-Friday 8 am to 8 pm) which I had to get used to. They built the new store on Seminary. We opened June 26, 2012, and were focused on selling Toyota vehicles only. In 2015, Lowe Auto Group purchased the dealership. Lowe sold the business just recently to Kunes Auto Group. I've gone through a number of changes since I started.
Q: It seems like you are always one of the first ones to work. Could you talk about how you start your day and what you have always tried to achieve?
ELLISON: I have always been an early riser. I get up around 4:30 am. Many days, I would go to the gym and then come home to get ready for work shortly afterwards. I tried to arrive about an hour early each day. I would have a cup of coffee and plan my agenda for the day. I have always tried to better myself on product knowledge and helping the customer find the right vehicle that would match both their wants and needs.
Q: What have you enjoyed about selling cars through the years?
ELLISON: I enjoyed meeting and greeting people. I feel like I am a people person. I love talking to people and building new friendships. I have built many great relationships with the people that I have worked with throughout the years. I have been blessed by my experience. During my 35 year career, many people have been very loyal to me. I've had customers send me their family members and friends so that I could work with them as well.
Q: Could you talk about someone who helped you in the early going of becoming a car salesman?
ELLISON: My backyard neighbor, Jerry Silberer, had asked me about selling cars a number of times. I had always told him that I was used to manual labor and it probably wasn't for me. I told him that he could have asked me a million times and I would still pass on the job. Selling cars was not for me. After just getting laid off from construction, Jerry invited me over to his house. I went over to play pool and one thing led to another like I had somewhat expected. The next day, I was in Bob Lindsay's office talking about a new career.
Q: Could you talk about one of your favorite stories of selling cars through the years?
ELLISON: Mike Grady was one of my customers who started to come to me from the very beginning. He probably bought 45 cars from me over the years. Mike was a very unique person. His hobby was trading cars. He loved coming in and talking about the new features on our vehicles. He bought mostly Toyotas and most often he purchased new vehicles.
Q: What's been the toughest part of selling cars and why?
ELLISON: The car business is actually like the stock market. It can be really inconsistent at times, which can make things difficult.
Q: Looking ahead, what does retirement look like for you?
ELLISON: My wife, Martie, retired March 16th of this year. We both love to ride bicycles and travel with our Yorkies (Jaxon, 12 and Rudy, 7 months). We like to go to the Quad Cities, Bloomington, IL, Milwaukee, Dubuque, etc. We have a lot of fun and we try to have a goal to ride 20 miles or more each time we go on a ride. I hope to travel a lot more and enjoy the free time with my wife and family.
Q: I've always enjoyed talking to you about the Green Bay Packers. What is your most memorable game at Lambeau Field and why?
ELLISON: The Ice Bowl. Obviously I wasn't there, but I was able to watch it on TV. There is no place better to watch and play a game than the "Frozen Tundra."
Q: Who is your favorite Green Bay Packer of all time and why?
ELLISON: Brett Favre. I feel that he was one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. I loved watching him play. His passion was amazing. He still holds the record for the most consecutive starts as a QB.
Q: You are also a big baseball fan. Could you talk about your favorite MLB team and some of your favorite players through the years?
ELLISON: Obviously, it's the St. Louis Cardinals. Some of my all-time favorites are: Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Stan the Man, Mark McGwire, Ozzie Smith, Vince Coleman, Jim Edmonds, Yadi, and Waino
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
ELLISON: My faith in God has guided me throughout life. I feel blessed to be alive and have the opportunities that I've had.
About Tim ...
Family: Married to Martie for 50 years. Sons: Chad and Aaron (married to Lori). Grandchildren: Ana (23), Dagen (22), Austyn (21), Ezra (20), Jadyn (18), Braelyn (10)
Education: Graduated from Galesburg HS 1967
Experience in selling cars: 35 years
The day that you actually started selling cars? August 6, 1986
Restaurant in Galesburg: I love all restaurants in Galesburg. We love going out to dinner.
Type of music: Christian, Classic Rock
Movie: The 10 Commandments
Actor: Sly Stalone
TV Show: The Big Bang Theory
Restaurant away from Galesburg: Pizza on 150 in Kickapoo
Place to watch a game: Lambeau Field