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Generation After Generation Returns to O’Laughlin’s

Frank Forness (on horse) in front of an old Studebaker Carriage. Photo taken of the front of what would become O’Laughlin’s car dealership in Salamanca.

by Eva Potter

There are many car dealerships in the area, but only John O’Laughlin can say his dealership has been in the business since the 1890s when Frank Forness sold Studebaker Wagons and Carriages – and not the motorized kind. There were no DVD players or navigation systems either.

In 1919, John’s grandfather, Bill O’Laughlin, began working for the Cadillac-Studebaker dealership in Salamanca, N.Y., owned by Forness. Bill worked for Forness until 1925 when he spun off on his own as a Hudson and Essex dealer, and later sold Ford and Mercury vehicles. Bill eventually bought the business in 1957, and the rest is history.

John said, “I’ve basically been around (the car) business all my life.” After graduating from college in 1977, he began working at the dealership. In 1995, the dealership moved from Salamanca to Great Valley and is now located at 4580 Route 219, with franchises for Cadillac, Buick and GMC trucks.

John said, “I needed room to expand, there was good traffic on Route 219 and GM strongly encouraged it. The growing prosperity of Ellicottville also factored into the decision to move the dealership.”

Rob Benson has been a salesperson with O’Laughlin’s for almost three years. His parents were originally from the vicinity, so his move from Florida brought him back to his roots.

Rob said, “We offer something different that other dealers don’t do. We don’t do the running back and forth bit. Once you’re with a salesperson, you’re with them from the start to the end, no finance managers and no sales managers. Stress-free buying is what it is.”

As a Cadillac, Buick and GMC store for new, and all makes and models of pre-owned vehicles, O’Laughlin’s subscribes to an old-fashioned, no nonsense, one-on-one approach. You won’t experience high-pressure sales tactics here. Their Facebook page states that it’s a place “where you can get an honest deal from one of the oldest Cadillac dealers in the nation!!!”

“One thing that impresses me most about this dealership is that family members from generation to generation to generation buy from John and buy from O’Laughlin’s,” said Rob. “You don’t see that in other dealers when you work there and that says a lot about John’s character, the way he takes care of his clients, because if he didn’t take care of them, they wouldn’t be back.”

O’Laughlin’s offers one-stop shopping including all types of financing. According to John, interest rates are the lowest they have ever been.

Even through the economic downturn of the past few years, O’Laughlin’s has managed to weather the storm.

“I consider my current staff to be the best I’ve had in all the years that I’ve been in the business,” said John, citing two highly qualified service and repair administrators, three certified master level ASE technicians on staff, in addition to many other great employees.

Another reason to visit O’Laughlin’s is the exciting new products coming out from GM in the near future in the 2012 and 2013 model years.

Rob said, “Buick is really on fire right now with the Regal and Verano. The response to those two vehicles has been tremendous. Folks of all ages have been very receptive to the smaller cars offering better gas mileage.”

O’Laughlin’s offers a wide variety of quality used vehicles, too. Rob said they have the ability to find literally any vehicle make a customer could want through on-line auctions, GMAC smart auctions and dealer trades.

“There are usually about 60 cars sitting out there – new and used,” said John.

You can reach the dealership at (716) 945-5050, or visit our website at www.olaughlins.com.

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