Dave Sinclair History
This is truly an “Only in America” story.
Dave Sinclair was born in North St Louis city, went to Nativity Grade School and then graduated from Beaumont High School in December 1944, and joined the Army in WW2. After the war, he became a hod carrier and joined Laborer’s Local 42. He worked with them until 1950, when he was accepted into the St Louis Police Department Academy, becoming the third generation of the family to become a city police officer. He was a very happy policeman, loved the job and would have stayed forever, except for one incident in the late 50’s. His oldest son, Dan, was injured and had to go to the doctor. Dave didn’t have enough cash to pay the full doctor bill, and his youngest brother, Walt, gave him the balance of the money. The fact that he wasn’t making enough money to pay his own children’s doctor’s bills aggravated him enough that he decided to try his youngest brother’s job, selling cars. At that time, the policeman only got 3 days off per month, so he worked 6 months without a day off, saved up 18 days, and took a job selling Pontiacs at Vincel Pontiac on Kingshighway and Fyler. It was a tough transition, but by the end of the 3 weeks, he earned more than he made in 3 months as a policeman (which was roughly $400/month). So he went back for roll call, and then turned in his papers and resigned.
He started selling cars in 1958 and had 3 small sons at the time.
His father John, a lieutenant, was among many who told him he was crazy to quit the department, and that “He’d starve” as a car salesmen. Thank god he didn’t listen to them!
He went from a rookie salesman at Vincel Pontiac, to a highly valued salesman at Costello-Kunze Ford in Dellwood, and then became New Car Manager, General Sales Manager, then Vice-President and General Manager at Costello-Kunze. All along the way, he sold people he grew up with, as well as people he worked with as a laborer and as a policeman. Midway through 1965, he was ready for his own dealership, and Ford Motor Company was eager to help him. More importantly, his dealer, Tom Costello, was also willing and able to help him.
Ford had a dealership on South Kingshighway in mind for him and held a meeting with Dave and Tom Costello. Ford told him that he would need approximately $33,000 down to get the dealership, and Ford would finance the balance through a program they had called Dealer Development. Dave told them that he had 7 kids (now), and that it might as well be a million dollars, because the most he could come up with was $3000, not $33,000.
That’s when Tom Costello spoke up and told Dave that wasn’t exactly true. Then he pulled a sheet of paper out of his pocket, and told everyone that he had been taking money out of Dave’s check since he first made him a manager, and had been investing it. He’d called the broker before they left the dealership for the meeting and the exact number that it had grown to was just under $30,000!
So between that money and the $3000 Dave could come up with, he could be a dealer.
Dave Sinclair Ford opened in January 1966 on South Kingshighway Blvd, and moved to South Lindbergh in south county in March 1972. Since the first year in 1966, it has been the largest Ford dealership in St. Louis, and shortly thereafter, became the largest dealership of any kind in St Louis area.
The motto of the dealership has always been, “If it’s not right, we’ll make it right!” and we have carried that with us to every store that we have taken over. Dave Sr set the example of having his office right on the showroom floor, with nobody screening his calls, and we have taken that with us to every dealership, also. All Sinclair family members running a dealership sit on the showroom floor. We believe that this is a big reason that we have always had an A+ rating with the BBB. If a customer has a problem, we are VERY easy to get in touch with, and we solve the problems quickly. An unsolved problem is like cancer, if ignored, it will grow and kill you.
In April 1993, Dave Sinclair Buick GMC opened, on the opposite end of the “car row” that the Ford dealership was on in south county, also on S Lindbergh. The store was the 5th largest Buick store in town, and about the same for GMC. By the end of 1993, it was the largest Buick dealership in the state, and in the top 40 in the country, and has remained in that position ever since.
In the two full years that we had Pontiac, before GM and the Government cancelled it, we were #2, then the #1 Pontiac dealer in the South Central Region, which is the largest of the 5 GM regions in the country.
All of our dealerships, Ford, Lincoln, Buick-GMC, are the largest of each brand in the St Louis area, and usually #1 in the state.
Dave Sr passed away in September 2009, after a short battle with cancer. The way we do business has not changed since he passed and it never will. It’s the ONLY way we know how to do it, and it’s the ONLY way we have conducted business in the 35 years that the second generation (and now the 3rd) has been working full time in the business.
Dave Sinclair Jr, Dan Sinclair Sr, Mike Sinclair, Tony Godfrey Jr, and John Detwiler are all members of the Sinclair family that work at the Buick GMC dealership. Ask for any of us!