Talking Shop with Dave Kinder, owner of Kinder Motor Co.

Monday, November 23, 2009
David Kinder is owner of Kinder Motor Co. in Jackson. (Fred Lynch)

Like many teenage boys, Dave Kinder had a love for the automobile. That passion for cars turned into a career that has taken him to owner of Kinder Motor Co. in Jackson. Business reporter Brian Blackwell recently visited with Kinder to learn more of his life's work and a little bit about his personal life. Kinder has lived in Cape Girardeau for most of his life, as he lived in St. Louis until he moved to this area when he was 1 year old. A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, Kinder and his wife, Cheryl, have one son, Jared.

Q: Who has influenced you the most?

A: My parents, Roy and Sue. Their beliefs and values have stuck with me to this day. They taught me hard work and the value of education. Another person who influenced me was Jerry Weiser, a dealer here in Cape Girardeau. I worked for him when I was 16, when I mopped and washed cars. I learned a lot about the car business from him, learning such qualities as high standards, strong work ethic and customer service skills.

Q: Explain how your business operates.

A: We do two things. One is the consignment business. Like real estate, I'll handle transactions for people but with automobiles. There are dozens of reasons why people want to sell their cars. I will handle the sale for them and they only have to pay me a little bit of money from the sale. I use an aggressive marketing approach, where I'll have professional photos of the car and utilize the Internet. We average more than 20 consignment sales per month. The other part of my business is the auto shopper, where a client gives me a list of qualities they're looking for and I find it for them.

Q: Tell me your business story.

A: As I said, I worked for Jerry Weiser at first. As a 16-year-old boy I was able to drive cars, clean them and be around them all the time. That was intriguing. I was a manager at 22. I knew at a fairly young age that I wanted to be in the car business. It's an opportunity to do something different every day. I wore a lot of hats as a sales manager.

Then I started working for Better Way, a sales and consulting company. I traveled throughout the country to more than 100 dealerships. Though I have my own company I still am employed with them and do some work for them now.

In 2006 I formed Kinder Motor Co. I started selling one to three cars a month. Now, we have one full-time and three part-time employees and sell quite a few more cars.

Q: How did you get the idea to start the consignment part of your business?

A: My parents used to live at the corner of Mount Auburn and Bloomfield Road. Most people familiar with that area of Cape Girardeau know how busy that section is. A car was always sitting on their property and after a while people were asking me to put their car there for me to sell. I thought I could charge a fee and make the sale. So that is what laid the background for my consignment part of Kinder Motor Co.

Q: The recent Cash for Clunkers program has hurt a number of used car dealerships. What about yours?

A: It has affected availability of cars for many used car dealerships. But for us we're doing well. We chose to capitalize on the situation and created getclunker.com about four months ago. We sell cars at the $5,000 price and under. The Internet has helped our business, as it's an innovative way to go about our business. It's important for businesses if they want to thrive in this economy to think of out-of-the box approaches.

Q: What does the future hold for Kinder Motor Co.?

A: I believe we'll have a strong business in the years to come. The recession will affect many sectors of the economy but we'll continue looking for ways to boost our sales. We've done more and more business lately, from repeat and new customers alike. The Internet and contacts I've made from my time with former companies will continue helping us make sales. I look for us to have nothing but success in the future.

Q: How do you spend your free time away?

A: Like many small business owners, I devote a lot of time to my company. But I do find some time to get away from the office. When I do, it involves traveling to car shows. I've been to the big three cities for the shows, which are Las Vegas, Chicago and Detroit.

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