Change hasn't come easy at J. Bertolet Volks-wagen since it opened 50 years ago at the edge of tiny Orwigsburg, Pa. And that's a big reason for its success.
It's still a single-point store, in the same small-town location, run by the same family -- including three generations of men named John Bertolet.
The dealership's founder lasted three days in retirement before he grew weary of playing golf and realized he'd miss the car business too much. Now 85, he typically comes in four days a week to chat up customers, though two of his sons handle daily operations.
"I'm retired from the business part of it, but I go there to see the customers and the employees," said John Bertolet, who's known as Jack Sr. "I love to see people purchase cars from us for years and years."
Jack Jr., who's now president, and brother Blayne, the vice president, share the duties of greeting each customer who arrives for service or delivery of a new car. After a renovation project that included offices on a new second story, they suddenly felt isolated from people walking into the showroom and quickly moved back down to the sales floor.
"It means a lot for people to know the owners," said Jack Jr., 60. "We find sometimes that just going over and saying, 'Good morning' and offering a cup of coffee, it can break the tension, if there is any tension."
That sort of personal touch helped J. Bertolet rank first nationally in Volkswagen Group of America's Customer Experience Index, a measure of sales and service satisfaction combined, in 2014. The dealership also was No. 1 in the sales category alone, a VW spokeswoman said.