‘True legend’ Luce Cools marks 60 years selling cars in Chatham

After more than six decades, Luce Cools still loves selling cars.

After more than six decades, Luce Cools still loves selling cars.

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Thursday marks 60 years Cools has been selling Chryslers in Chatham, dating back to April 4, 1964 when he started work at the Burt Stacey dealership, once located at King West and Third streets downtown.

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These days, Cools, 84, has scaled back to four mornings a week at Chatham Chrysler, but his excitement is undiminished.

“I can honestly say I still get a high when I sell a car,” Cools said.

And he’s sold a lot of them; more than 10,000, he estimates.

Cools, who started selling them at 21, jumped between dealerships in the beginning, he said.

Other than a few years with Clayton Johnston in Ridgetown, Cools said he’s been at the same Chrysler dealership in Chatham since joining Stacey.

“I was taught old school,” quickly learning the value of developing a loyal clientele, Cools said. “The grass really isn’t any greener on the other side of the fence.”

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He’s been through ownership changes at the local Chrysler dealership and enjoyed working with everyone. Former owner Frank Waekens was like a brother to him, he said, and current owners, the Lally Group, “just treat me like gold.”

“Luce is a true legend in this business,” said Mike Hogue, Chatham Chrysler’s general manager.

“You will never see this ever again that someone’s selling vehicles for 60 years in the same region,” he added. “He’s a true gentleman, he treats his customers like family, that’s why he’s been the business so long.

Cools has sold vehicles to multiple generations of families, Hogue added, “They all keep coming back to him.”

“They’re our customers,” Cools said. “They’re friends.”

He credits the “trust factor” with helping him sell 15 or 20 vehicles to some clients over the years.

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Truth is the best policy, he added, because you can’t always remember what you said.

“You got two ears, you got one mouth, use the ones you got the most of,” he tells new salespeople. “If you don’t listen to what the people want, you’re not going to sell.”

Today’s vehicles come with all kinds of electronic gadgets, but Cools recalls when power steering and automatic transmissions were a big deal.

“If you had a car with power steering and power brakes and power windows, you had a loaded car,” he said.

Cools also remembers the early days when the sales team hit the floor at 8 am and didn’t leave until the doors closed at 9 pm

“If you wanted a Saturday off, it was basically someone. . . better (have) died or be getting married, and it better be an immediate member of the family,” he laughed.

But Cools also reaped the benefits of sales success, winning several “fantastic trips” from Chrysler to the US, Bahamas and Portugal.

After 60 years, Cool thanks all his many customers and co-workers. “I’ve had a lot of good times and met a lot of fantastic people.”

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