For Wayne Wagner Jr., the secret to the longevity of his fourth-generation car dealership in suburban St. Louis is simple: good ethics and hard work.
"We try to deal honestly with people and make a sincere effort to satisfy them," says Wagner, 54, whose nickname is Rusty.
"I have only one store. I can't get it to work right every day in every department, but we keep trying. It's a work in progress. When you have four generations in one town, you don't get there by pulling the wool over people's eyes."
Wagner is president of Wagner Motor Car Co., which operates as Wag-ner Buick-Pontiac-GMC in Belleville, Ill., about 15 miles from St. Louis.
The dealership was founded by his great-grandfather, Gustav Wagner, in 1912, and carried Buick, Hudson, Oldsmobile and GMC in its early years.
In 1916, the business became Buick's exclusive distributor for the region and continued in that role until World War II.
Over time, the Wagners kept only the Buick line until reacquiring the GMC franchise in 1992 and adding Pontiac in late 2003.
Rusty Wagner believes that community involvement is important in showing his commitment to his customer base. He is past chairman and a current board member of the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce; he has been a member of a school board for 13 years; and he says he and his wife have served on many committees.