New Ronan Motors owners dive into business
By Mary Auld
for the Valley Journal
RONAN – Paul and Kelly van Hoek are veterans in the car business, but cars aren’t the reason they decided to buy Ronan Motors. It’s the beauty and community in the Mission Valley that attracted them to the business.
“We knew it was going to be great here,” Kelly said. “We just didn’t know it was going to be this great.”
The van Hoeks took over the dealership at the north end of Ronan on Oct. 3. Ronan Motors still sells and services new and used cars.
Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, the couple moved to Ronan in July. With their children out of the house, they were ready to start a new chapter in their lives. After considering buying dealerships in three different states, the location clinched their decision to settle in Ronan. The dealership’s integration with the community and the variety of vehicles were also factors that led the pair to their decision.
Both Kelly and Paul have been working in the car business for most of their lives.
Paul started working with cars as a young man in his native Holland. As a teen, he was a self-taught mechanic. He developed his skills by working on friends’ cars and motorcycles. Paul studied for two years to earn a degree in automobile management and technology. After earning his degree, he completed the mandatory 16-month service in the Dutch military where he drove and serviced military vehicles.
After finishing his military service, Paul moved to Alaska in 1977. Though he hoped to work as a mechanic, things worked out differently.
“I ended up in sales and that’s the way it’s been since ‘77,” Paul said.
Interacting with customers has kept him in the sales business.
“A car is a major purchase for most people. It’s very satisfying to make a deal that’s fair to me and fair to them,” he said.
In his 42 years at dealerships in Southcentral Alaska, Paul worked his way up from a salesman to finance and then into general manager positions.
Kelly’s history with cars started when she was a child. Her family owned a car auction in Tennessee, so she grew up around car sales. When she moved to Alaska, she started working in retail and moved on to administrative and financial positions.
The couple met as coworkers at a Honda dealership. Kelly and Paul have been married for nearly 30 years and have two sons, ages 24 and 29.
The van Hoeks enjoy the culture of a small town dealership. Compared to the large dealerships the couple worked at in Alaska, a six-day workweek and shorter hours give the couple ample free time to enjoy the area. Still, the pair is working hard to achieve goals they’ve set for the business under their ownership. Increasing sales and proving a stellar reputation are first on the docket. Paul said he aims to participate in the local economy by working with local businesses and professionals.
For the van Hoeks, the bottom line of their business is becoming part of the community they admire and selling cars to happy customers. “I want to do business and go home and feel good about it,” Paul said.