Geweke Auto Group is selling its Toyota dealership located at 1020 South Beckman Road to the Lithia Automotive Group of Oregon. The sale is a commercial milestone of sorts: It means there will be no Geweke-owned auto dealership in Lodi for the first time since 1966.
In a press release, owner Larry Geweke said he is keeping dealerships in Yuba and Sutter counties, but running the Lodi Toyota store will now be the responsibility of Lithia Automotive Group. Geweke said Lithia will “invest further and grow the longstanding relationships to new levels for Toyota representation in this market.”
Daryl, Mark and Larry Geweke opened the Toyota dealership in 1991.
There are 55 employees at the business — 21 in the sales division, and 34 in parts and maintenance.
At one time, the family owned Ford, Chrysler and Toyota dealerships and a large RV business in Lodi. With the Toyota dealership sale to Lithia, all have now been sold or closed.
“I’m sorry to see the Geweke name go,” said Lodi City Council member Bob Johnson, “but I’m happy there’s still going to be another entity on the site. Lithia — they’re big time.”
Ironically, local investors are reviving the former Geweke Chrysler dealership, only a short distance from the Toyota dealership on Beckman Road. Kimberly Mullen, her father Dr. Ken Mullen, her husband Bryan Smith, and partner Vince Porter hope to open their Chrysler Jeep Dodge business by Thanksgiving.
The Geweke name will remain in the automotive sector of San Joaquin and Calaveras counties with a body shop located at 102 Hansen Drive, which has been open since 1973. The Geweke Auto and RV Collision Center services will still include 24-hour towing and assistance, and will work with all insurance companies, makes and models.
According to the Lithia website, Walt DeBoer founded Lithia Motors in 1946 as a Chrysler-Plymouth-Dodge dealership in Ashland, Ore. Following his death in 1968, his son Sid, along with Dick Heimann, grew the business to include five stores and 19 franchises in Southern Oregon. In Dec. 1996, this collection of dealerships was transformed into Lithia Motors, Inc., a publicly traded company.
Lithia is one of America’s largest automotive retailers, featuring most domestic and import franchises. The stores serve urban and rural populations throughout the western and Midwest United States.
Geweke Toyota Scion will still hold its annual Pink October Race for Awareness on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 8 a.m. In addition, the Lodi Geweke’s Caring for Women Foundation will continue to assist women in the San Joaquin area who are fighting breast cancer and in need of financial assistance until funds are depleted.