Vaughn Auto celebrates 100th anniversary
By Tucker Henderson
When Myron Vaughn purchased a tire dealership from John Engstrom in 1923, he began the first year of a longstanding family business in New York Mills. Vaughn Auto & Marine Co. is celebrating 100 years in business this year.
“Not many businesses make it that long,” said Tim Vaughn, current owner and operator. “It’s quite a milestone. Even though our business has changed over the years. We started out in tires and now we’re in boats, with cars along the way.”
Though the business has hopped around a bit over the years, it has remained within a two-block radius since its early days at the tire shop located where the New York Mills Public Library now stands. At that time, they also sold Willys-Overland cars from that location.
“In 1931, we took on Chevrolet,” said Tim, who is the third generation to own and operate the business. “It was about that time we moved into this building.”
Myron Vaughn purchased the current location on 84 Centennial Drive (at that time Front Street) in 1928 from Louie Winogradof. Myron built the current shop and expanded it further in 1947-48 when he added the larger portion to the back of the building, which now serves as the main shop space. Myron and his wife, Pearl, oversaw the early days of the company.
After Myron’s son, Milo Vaughn, returned from his military service in World War II, he worked for his father and later took over leadership of his father’s company. Milo, with the help of his wife Ethel, oversaw the addition of the Lund Boats and Mercury Outboards dealership portion of the business in 1960. He worked to continue and improve the business until his death on July 28, 1993.
Milo’s son, Tim, was named the official dealer/operator for Vaughn Chevrolet after his father passed away in 1993.
“I graduated from tech college in 1977,” said Tim. “I was going through high school here too, I originally started back about 1973 in here full-time, every day.”
The year 2023 marks three milestones for Tim: 100 years in operation for Vaughn Auto & Marine, 50 years working at the family business and 30 years in leadership. He is proud to carry on the legacy that his parents and grandparents worked so hard to build and to share that legacy with his nephew and niece, Paul Lubitz and Brenda Genoch who are his two employees.
Tim has seen many changes over the years including the closing out of the Chevrolet business portion of Vaughn Auto in 2008.
“We parted ways because they wanted us to build a new fancy building and do all the updating,” said Tim. “They changed their whole idea on how they wanted dealerships to be.”
He also mentioned that the way they repair their vehicles has been a large change as well over the past five decades.
“It used to be that you fixed everything with tools,” he said. “Now you have so much electronic stuff to do.”
Now that the business has returned to more of the repair side of things, a typical day is spent out in the shop getting things fixed and working on motors.
“Get up early in the morning and get as much done before anyone else comes in,” Tim laughed.
He said that his favorite part of his job is the people, “I enjoy being around people.”
Tim said that his vocation is one that is not a popular choice for the younger generation choosing their careers these days.
“Less people are going into repair vehicles,” he said. “We used to have tech schools in all the neighboring towns around that taught automotive. Nobody teaches automotive anymore. Ten years from now, there’s gonna be a rude awakening for people because there’s nobody to fix them anymore. You look around the country and how old the people are that are in the dealership.”
Throughout the highs and lows of an automotive business, there is one particular lesson that Tim learned from his parents and grandparents that has stuck with him over the years. One of his mottos in life and in business has served him well for the past 50 years.
“Do the best job you can the first time and try to do it right,” he said. “Sometimes it doesn’t always work out, but you try to get it taken care of.”