In 1953, young Bert Boeckmann started working as a salesman at Galpin Ford in North Hills, CA. He bought the single-point store in 1960.
He's since turned it into Galpin Motors, a $724 million business that includes the largest Ford dealership in the world as well as Jaguar, Lincoln Mercury, Aston Martin, Volvo, Mazda and Saturn stores in the San Fernando Valley.
Boeckmann, his family and friends marked his 50th anniversary in the business on Aug. 19.
It's been a great run for an extraordinary person.
“He's the best dealer I have ever met. He is the whole package,” Ford Motor Co. Group Vice President James O'Connor told Ward's Dealer Business for a 2001 story naming Boeckmann as our first Dealer of the Year.
He still works six days a week, 8 p.m.-6 p.m., He continues to sell cars to families who've bought from him for four generations.
His Boeckmann Charitable Foundation gives millions to 161 charities around the neighborhood and around the world.
He just retired as the only Los Angeles Police Commissioner in the history of the department whose service spanned six different Los Angeles police chiefs' administrations.
He's turned his vast service department into an individualized customer-care center.
Galpin also turns regular factory production vehicles into custom “Galpinized” machines. One of the first: a 1967 Mustang with a sun roof and rumble seat. Today, Galpin produces dozens of specialty vehicles, including a tailgate party F-150, complete with built in kegs, barbecue, blender and DVD entertainment system.
It's taken some time, well, a half-century, to do all those things and more.
“Our success has not been an overnight thing,” says Boeckmann. “We're always coming up with new promotions and new ideas.”
Jerrod Holland, a Galpin Motors public relations representative, says he quickly discovered Boeckmann was no ordinary client.
“He's something special,” says Holland. “He's got enough money to live anywhere he wants, yet he lives in a modest home in North Bridge, a community that's a blue- and white-collar mix.
“And he doesn't just give money to charities. He also gives his time and effort. That includes picking up tools and renovating housing for the poor.”