Gene Ellison always had a thing for Mercedes-Benz cars.
“While I’m a native Texan, my family moved to Southern California in the late ‘60s where Mercedes were very popular. I would see them on the streets all the time. They were different and sophisticated.”
In the early ‘70s Gene moved to the Rio Grande Valley where his parents bought a farm. “Out of necessity I had to learn how to work on our equipment. I learned a little about diesel engines and got pretty good with them. The saving grace for a young car enthusiast like me was a MB dealership in San Benito. When my girlfriend (and future wife) and I went on dates, I would talk her into stopping by the dealership to check out the cars.”
In 1975, Gene got a job as a mechanic at that dealership, where he was trained by the owner, a Swiss man who had apprenticed at the Mercedes-Benz factory in Stuttgart. “I took to the work quickly and was sent to a number of technical schools. I enjoyed working on what we now call “classic” Mercedes from the ‘50s and ‘60s. We worked in an open-air shop in the sub-tropics, and every time I went to the parts counter, the window would slide open and cool air would flow out. So, in 1977 when a parts position opened up, I jumped at the chance to move inside. A short time later, the parts manager quit, and I got my first job as parts manager.”
In 1990, Gene joined Park Place. “I’ve been privileged to help grow the business and enjoyed meeting the challenges that were part of that growth. Today’s challenges include material shortages in the supply chain. We’ve managed this challenge by aggressively purchasing in advance of demand whenever possible.”
Gene’s advice to someone just starting out: “Sign on, dig in, learn everything about the business you can, think of the client first, and go for the long haul.” Away from work, Gene loves photography and the outdoors. He also has a collection of antique bottles that he started as a kid