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John Decker to run for 73rd District Rep

John Decker

John Decker

Retired auto dealership owner John Decker has announced his candidacy for the Aug. 5, 2014 Republican primary for Michigan’s 73rd House District. Peter MacGregor currently holds the seat but has chosen not to seek re-election and is instead vying for a seat in the Michigan Senate.

“I plan to take the knowledge I gained as a responsible businessman to Lansing and represent the 73rd District with the utmost integrity,” said Decker, who has nearly 25 years experience owning General Motors dealerships. “I am fortunate enough to be retired, but I have the desire to give back to the communities that supported me both as a businessman and personally.”

Decker resides in Cannon Township. He has been married for 30 years to his wife Connie. The couple has three children and seven grandchildren, and they are very active members of Our Lady of Consolation Parish in Rockford.

“Many individuals have known me as businessman,” notes Decker, “but my heart is with family first and it is with their support that I seek to use my time and talents to give back to my community.”

For 20 years Decker has served and continues to serve on the board and as volunteer for the North Kent Community Service Center, a Rockford-based non-profit organization that assists individuals in need. At various times Decker has been president of the organization’s board and chair of its finance and executive committees.

Decker spent most of his professional career in the automotive retail sales and service industry. In 1976 he began his career selling cars at Plainfield Lincoln Mercury and by 1980 became sales manager and ultimately a partner at Greenville Ford Lincoln Mercury, Inc. In 1987 Decker purchased Visser Chevrolet in Cedar Springs and renamed it John Decker Chevrolet, eventually moving to a new facility on M-57 in Rockford. Decker later purchased two other dealerships, Mid Michigan Chrysler Plymouth Dodge in Ithaca and Tom Carter Motor Sales (Pontiac, GMC, Cadillac) in Ionia.

Before selling his dealerships and retiring, Decker was an active member of the Michigan Auto Dealers Association, National Auto Dealers Association, Chevrolet Dealer Council and the West Michigan Chevy Dealers Advisory Board. He also served on the advisory board for Ferris State University’s Automotive Service Educational Program.

Decker continues to be an active member of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, an organization that recognized his company in 2008 as Business of the Year. He previously was a member of the Cedar Springs Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Cedar Rock Area Business District Advisory Board. Decker has given time and resources to many causes, including the Conductive Learning Center, Junior Achievement, Toys for Tots, Future Farmers of America, area Little Leagues and many area schools.

“As the next State Representative of the 73rd District, I will work to create better businesses opportunities and jobs here in West Michigan,” said Decker. “I am also committed to providing our children and grandchildren with the educational opportunities to succeed and creating an economic environment where they will thrive.”

The 73rd House District includes the City of East Grant Rapids and the townships of Cannon, Courtland, Nelson, Oakfield, Plainfield, Spencer and Grand Rapids Charter Township. More information about Decker’s bid for the Michigan House can be found at electjohndecker.com.




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John Decker Chevrolet sells to Ed Koehn

John Decker and his sons.

by Beth Altena

After serving the community for nearly two-and-a-half decades, John Decker Chevrolet is being sold and will now operate as Ed Koehn Chevrolet. The family-owned dealership, located at 4650 14 Mile Road in Rockford, employs about 20 people, including John Decker’s two sons, JD Jr. and Jason. According to John, the new owners have agreed to secure all employees’ jobs with the exception of himself.
“I’ve been made a generous offer to go away,” he said.
At 58 years of age, Decker said he has been in the car business since 1974 and opened John Decker Chevrolet in September 1987. Pressures of Michigan’s flagging economy were part of the reason Decker decided to sell. “I’m too young to retire, but I’m not too young to get away from the pressure of doing business in Michigan,” he stated. “I’ve struggled with mortgages and borrowing money just like everyone else.” He said the last couple of years were not what he had hoped.
Decker said he sees the future of dealerships as operations like Koehn’s, selling multiple brands with more than one dealership. He said the advantages, from ordering stationery to advertising, give multiple-dealership operations a financial advantage.
Decker said he has been in negotiations on and off since last June and at one point had three letters of intent to purchase on his desk at one time. He wanted to dispel rumors of the dealership closing. “I’ve seen others go away like Northland Pontiac and I didn’t want to see that happen,” he said.
“This is a great deal,” Decker said of the sale. He is pleased that his long-term employees, including his boys, will continue to have jobs and said new owners Aaron and Ed Koehn have plans to double the number of jobs the dealership is able to offer. “They anticipate doubling staff by the end of the year,” he said.
Decker said he wasn’t sure what was in his own immediate future besides taking the time to have surgery on both his knees, which he said he has been putting off. “I can still do a lot of good in the car business,” he said. “Hopefully word of mouth will spread my fame around.”
Decker said he started out as a Ford and Lincoln Mercury salesman and started selling GM in 1987. In 2003 he began selling Pontiacs with the closing of Northland Pontiac in downtown Rockford. He said part of negotiations included continuing the dealership in the John Decker spirit. “I think I have a commitment to the community and employees,” he said.
“Anyone who knows me knows I am the biggest talker in the world,” Decker stated.
Decker said he will miss the interaction with the employees and customers. “This is where I have lived the last 20 years. That’s the hardest thing.”
He said he is very happy with the transition of the dealership into the hands of Ed and Aaron Koehn and believes the business has bright prospects. “I am very excited about the future.”
Ed Koehn also has dealerships in Greenville and Wayland.

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