But it's not just a matter of being with the right brand at the right time. The distributorship has made a huge contribution to Subaru's great leap forward during the past decade — and long before that.
Boch took over the family business after the death of his father, Ernie Boch Sr., in 2003. His grandfather, Andy Boch, began things in 1938, opening a repair shop. The next year, Andy Boch opened his first store, Boch Rambler. He added a Nash dealership in 1945, and Ernie Sr. joined the business three years later.
Ernie Sr. took over in the 1960s and at one point a Massachusetts banker named Dominic Sansone gave him a $10,000 loan to keep the business going. Boch Sr. acquired additional franchises, and in 1970, Sansone asked him to consult on New England's ailing Subaru distributorship, which Boch Jr. says "wasn't exploiting the opportunities."
The distributorship had been awarded to Massachusetts businessman Harper Clifford in 1969 by Harvey Lamm, one of the founders of Subaru of America.
More than a dozen franchises had been awarded — mostly to Saab dealers.
"Clifford had the distributorship, but he was going out of business," Boch Jr. says.
Clifford took Boch Sr. on a tour of his dealerships, where Subarus were put in the back of the stores and were ignored by the salespeople. Boch Jr. says his father's idea was to have exclusive, stand-alone stores.
Boch Sr. bought out Clifford in 1971 and turned the business around. For the next few years, the distributorship sold about 10,000 vehicles annually.
"He had a knack of knowing what would be popular," Boch Jr. says of his father.
He frequently made suggestions to Subaru of America's parent, then known as Fuji Heavy Industries. He pushed for the shift to exclusively all-wheel-drive vehicles and "suggested the raised roof on the Outback," Boch Jr. says.
"In the late '80s, we stopped bringing in front-wheel drive and took exclusively awd," he says.
Boch Sr. also lobbied Japan to make a Legacy sedan, a car that was similar to today's crossovers. He told Automotive News in 1997 that most U.S. officials were "very, very skeptical," because they feared the car would compete with the Outback wagon.
Fuji Heavy sent Boch Sr. a prototype Legacy. As an experiment, he agreed to take 300 of them for the 1997 model year — and sold them all.
Over the past half-century, most independent new-vehicle distributors in the U.S. have been bought out by the manufacturer. But Subaru never sought to buy out the Bochs.
"I think that the private entrepreneur [as distributor] is an asset in today's market," Boch says. "Communication with the dealers is of the utmost importance and we can turn on a dime. The buck stops with me and processes are adopted, changed and controlled to what we deem best. We are a nimble corporation."
Boch's isn't Subaru's only private distributor in the United States. Subaru Distributors Corp., in upstate New York, distributes vehicles, parts and accessories to dealerships in New York and New Jersey.