Right before the Thanksgiving holidays, the auto industry received some sad news.
The founder of the nation’s largest privately owned auto dealership group passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 20, in Kansas City, Mo.
Cecil Van Tuyl, founder of Van Tuyl Group, began his career in the used-car business and opened his first new car franchise in 1955, a Chevrolet dealership in Kansas City. Earlier this year, the Van Tuyl Group ranked No. 5 on Auto Remarketing's Top 125 Used-Car Dealer Groups ranked by 2011 used retail sales, and was the highest-ranked private group on the list.
Many in the industry expressed their respect for Van Tuyl as the news of his death was released.
"It's not overstating matters to say that Cecil Van Tuyl was a true legend in the world of automotive retailing," said Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North America. "From the very day he opened his first store, a Chevrolet franchise, nearly 60 years ago, he was an exemplary dealer, and an exemplary human being as well, one who will be dearly missed."
Van Tuyl was seen as a “pioneer” in the auto industry, as he began acquiring multiple dealerships and hiring talented managers and making them minority partners in the business.
First, his son, Larry, joined him in 1971, and they grew the Van Tuyl Group together.
Van Tuyl was known for his business philosophy centered around his belief in the development of people, officials shared.
Van Tuyl was know to say: "The better people you surround yourself with, the better you are going to do for yourself and for your consumers."
But it wasn’t all business for Van Tuyl.
Cecil was married to his wife Ruby for 64 years. He enjoyed time with his children, Paula and Larry, his five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Van Tuyl was an avid sportsman who loved hunting, fishing and the outdoors, officials shared.
"Cecil represented the best of the auto industry … a driven entrepreneurial spirit and a deep desire to assist everyone he knew to succeed. The business lost a great man today," said Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of Toyota.
Alan Mulally, Ford's president and chief executive officer, also expressed his condolences: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Van Tuyl family. Cecil was a valued member of our One Ford team and we are grateful for his leadership, partnership and friendship."