Charles Dalgleish Sr. emigrated from Canada to Detroit at age 22, never dreaming that he would become part of Detroit's auto history.
In 1929, the young Dalgleish opened a service garage, Charlie's Nash Service. He held his own during the Depression and opened a Nash new-car dealership in 1933.
'Immigrants see the opportunities in this country,' says Charles Dalgleish Jr., 75, president and treasurer of Dalgleish Cadillac-Oldsmobile Inc. 'You learn the work ethic from a father who worked seven days a week, including nights.'
Charles and his brother, Douglas Dalgleish Sr., 72, vice president and secretary, both recall getting a nickel for every 100 service mailings they folded and stuffed for their father.
'We just grew into the business,' says Douglas Sr., who runs the family dealership with his brother.
Four generations have grown up in the business, and 10 family members now work at the downtown Detroit dealership.
'It's not that easy to move out when you invest in that kind of property,' says Charles Jr., referring to their buildings that total 185,000 square feet. 'As dealers have moved out of Detroit, we're one of the only ones left - that's a plus.'
The brothers worked together from 1951 to 1954 at the family dealership, which was the largest Nash dealership in the country.
When their father purchased a Cadillac-Oldsmobile store in 1954, Charles Jr. moved with the Cadillac franchise to a dealership on Grand River Avenue.
Ten years later, he moved the dealership to its present Cass Avenue location.
Douglas Sr. stayed at the Oldsmobile dealership. In 1970, when the family closed that store, Douglas Sr. moved back to work with his brother.
'The fact that we ended up working in two different franchises years ago made it easy,' says Douglas Sr. 'He (Charles Jr.) went one path, and I went another. That was pure accidental luck.'
Clearly, the two personalities play a vital role in the family run operation. 'We have our own areas of expertise. The things that I do are so different from Chuck,' says Douglas Sr., who describes his brother as a detail person who handles the business end.
Charles Jr. admits he is glad he is left alone to handle the 'nuts and bolts' of the business. 'He's (Douglas Sr.) very social and handles the customers. It's a natural split: He's got his job, and I've got mine.'
When it comes to making decisions, the split between jobs has prevented any major disputes. Says Douglas Sr.: 'We've never had a major conflict, and we're talking 50 years of working together. Again, this is because our personalities are so different.'
Adds his brother, 'There is minimal disagreement - some of the decisions are made by the group, some made individually. Everyone has to bend.'
The Dalgleish name is well known in the community, and the brothers' distinctive personalities are evident in their contributions. Douglas Sr. was a founder of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association Charity Preview for the association's auto show.
During the past 32 years, Detroit-area charities have received millions of dollars from the event.
At the same time, Charles Jr. has served on numerous boards, including the Detroit Medical Center and Hutzel Hospital, where he also was treasurer.
The future of the dealership rests with loyal employees and the younger Dalgleish generations.
With 10 family members currently involved, Charles Jr. sees the benefit of a family business.
'It's worked out rather well,' he says. 'Sharing the same last name creates good customer relationships and a coherent organization in a tough labor market.'