50 Cars, 50 Days, 50 Years

By Aura Hill

Young and his 1963 Buick Riviera 
Photo: Nathan Merkel. Young and his 1963 Buick Riviera Photo: Nathan Merkel. At Klick-Lewis

Imagine selling 50 cars in 50 days. This is the challenge Gary Young, car salesman at Klick-Lewis in Palmyra, set for himself to celebrate his 50th year in the business. A large whiteboard hangs in his office, tracking his progress, noting the name of the buyer, date purchase was made and how many years that person has been buying cars from them, a number ranging from one to 48 years.

“I started selling cars in 1967 at age 17 at Royer Buick on Cameron Street in Harrisburg. It was next to Hershey Ice Cream. It was wiped out by Agnes in 1972 and moved to Chambers Hill Road until 2008 when they lost their Buick franchise. Faulkner bought them out to sell Kias,” Young said, adding, “I refused to sell Kias. I am a GM man.”

He was looking for someplace else to go and had plenty of offers.

“I had a good reputation with different dealers and I got a lot of offers,” he said. “My son Todd was working at Klick-Lewis in Palmyra and Warren Lewis told Todd to get his dad to come to work with him. Ten years later, I am spending six or seven months here selling cars and the rest of the time in Florida.”

The consummate salesman, he said that he sold two cars out of a Buick dealership in Florida to his Florida neighbors while on vacation.

“I called Warren and told him what I had done and that I would be staying in Florida. He didn’t like that idea very much,” he said with a laugh.

Over his 50 years in the business, he has seen a lot of changes in vehicles, marketing and sales techniques.

“In the 60s, most car ads were in the newspapers. Today, with the Internet, you can shop all over the country. You can sell a client a car and never see or hear from them again.

“My clientele numbers around 20,000. I have sold to generations of families. They know that I am here for them.

“Back then, we would get a lot of traffic on the lot. We were the source of information for car buyers. Now it is the Internet.”

He said that there was high drama when the new line of cars came out in September.

“They always came out in September. We would paper the windows until the unveiling. We’d have a wine and cheese party. There was a lot of fun and excitement.”

He admits to having seen a lot of milestones too.

“I was here for the first calculator, the first copy machine and the first bag phone, a forerunner of the cell phone. We used a typewriter and carbon paper.

“In the 70s, the craze was CBs. Everyone had a handle. I was ‘The Bootlegger.’ We sold cars with CDs. It was the beginning of cell phone communication.”

Young’s career is distinguished not only by the quantity of years, but the quality of those years. In sales performance, he was always at the top of the game, having been named top salesman numerous time in his division, the state, the entire Northeast and in the country.

In 2001, he was touted by Auto Dealer Today as Sales Professional of the Year, earning him the opportunity to play a round of golf with Tiger Woods and his then coach Butch Harmon.

He has always been community oriented, offering support for palliative care and becoming an advocate for PSA, a test used to screen for prostate cancer, and in 2000, he was named Central Pennsylvania’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s first Man of the Year.

He said he is thankful that back in 1967 Royer’s recognized his potential and gave him a chance. He attributes his success to always being honest with his customers and doing his best to always stick by them, no matter what.

“The success really comes from loving my business and loving my clients,” he said.

“I am the only one here at Klick-Lewis that still does business the old fashioned way. I have developed a rapport with my customers. They are more than customers; we have developed relationships,” he said, adding that those relationships have been the best thing about the job over the years.

The 50th anniversary in sales is doubly rewarding for him. This same year, he and his wife, whom he credits with great patience, are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

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