K&J Chevrolet, Carlyle, IL
Understanding Your Customer Reaps Rewards
Photos from L to R: Tony Jansen, Julie Jansen, Scott Loepker
Growing up in Bartelso, IL, a downstate farming community with a population of 450, K&J Chevrolet (Carlyle, IL) principal dealer Tony Jansen learned early on that farming sets the pace of the local economy. Starting at age 12, while working at his family’s Chevrolet dealership in Germantown, IL, he learned the nuances of serving the needs of farmers.
“Farmers are smart and frugal,” Jansen explains. “They make the purchases they need first, like a planter or a combine, then they’ll decide between living with the old pick-up or buying a new one.”
Jansen, who also owns the K&J Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram dealership in Carlyle, has worked hard to understand the business of farming and can often be found driving around the county, talking with farmers about their business. “It’s all about relationships here,” Jansen says. “Our sales philosophy is low-key and ‘no pressure’ because that’s how everyone is.”
But 2022 was a bit usual for sales. Jansen says in a typical year, the fourth quarter is very busy, but this past year, although farmers in his area have experienced good weather conditions and rates, their confidence has been shaken by high fuel prices, inflation, and the threat of recession.
Riding the highs and lows, Jansen remains committed to supporting to the local community, including donating the use of property adjacent to K&J Chevrolet to local high schools’ Future Farmers of America clubs. “I really enjoy watching the crops grow out my window and helping high school students learn,” he says.
In addition, Jansen sponsors a ‘P.A.L.S.’ event at which area high school students spend a half day learning about personal finance and decision-making from professional community volunteers, such as bankers, insurance agents, and his own various department employees. During COVID, his team held outdoor drive-in movie nights, a welcome relief when most entertainment options were closed. And this year, Jansen was pleased to see that the company’s annual toy drive doubled in volume, filling four trucks with donations from generous customers and staff. “Everyone volunteers here,” Jansen says.
Today, Jansen is eagerly looking to the future. His nephew Scott, currently sales manager at K&J Chevrolet, is poised to take the reins there and daughter Julie Jansen at the Breese Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram dealership, will one day take over that business.
“I’m nothing without our farming customers and employees who understand them,” Jansen says. “I’ve truly been blessed.”
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