Over the years, Garry Plimmer said, he fielded several offers from people interested in buying his business, Garry’s Automotive, at 2200 S. Cole Road in Boise.
Plimmer opened the auto garage in 2005 with his wife, Jerilyn. He had no interest in selling to strangers, but he did plan to retire. So he approached two of his longtime employees, technician John Bryant and service manager Jared Scofield, and asked if they would like to buy the business.
“We wanted a succession plan so that things could carry on,” said Plimmer, 60. “We had two perfect people.”
Bryant, 50, and Scofield, 36, were surprised.
“Heck, yeah, I wanted to be a part of this,” Bryant said. “I had aspirations to open a shop. This came along, and it seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime.”
The shop’s 12 employees repair about 3,500 cars per year, bringing in about $2 million in sales. The new owners don’t want to change anything about the business, including the name.
The Plimmers, Bryant and Scofield spent years forming a transition plan, giving Bryant and Scofield time to secure a $1.4 million loan. Plimmer spent his final two years working upstairs, sharing a cubicle wall with his wife, the bookkeeper, until the sale closed in February.
“We’ve been planning this for so long that customers shouldn’t experience anything different,” Scofield said. “It’s the same people. It’s the same treatment, repair work and warranty. Nothing has changed.”
Plimmer took a roundabout path to garage ownership. After working for 18 years as a heavy equipment mechanic for John Deere in Boise, he started a different company in 1995. The business, Industrial Tractor Parts, bought old equipment and sold the pieces. It failed after two years.
During that time, Plimmer started fixing cars for people at his home off Victory Road in South Boise. As more work rolled in, he bought a two-bay shop near the corner of Lake Hazel and Five Mile roads.
Over time, he hired three employees and considered buying a neighboring lot to expand the garage. He visited Boise’s Planning and Zoning office to discuss the plans. The staffer he spoke to said the site was not zoned for a commercial garage.
“Turn around, walk out of here and I’ll pretend you never came in,” Plimmer remembers the staffer saying.
So the Plimmers secured a loan to buy a vacant lot on Cole Road and build a new shop. It opened in 2005 during the same week that work wrapped up to expand that section of Cole Road from three to five lanes. The serendipitous timing brought more traffic to the shop and instantly pushed Garry’s into growth mode.
Scofield met the Plimmers through church connections. He worked at a Firestone tire store when the couple opened the Cole Road shop. Plimmer hired him to be Garry’s customer service representative.
Bryant and his wife then lived in Bakersfield, Calif. They wanted to move. They visited Boise to size up jobs and houses, not expecting to move for another year. Their real estate agent here knew Plimmer. Seeing that Bryant was an auto technician, the agent told him Plimmer was hiring.
Bryant met with Plimmer for an hour and a half while his wife, Megan, waited in the car. When he returned, she said, “We’re moving to Boise, aren’t we?” He said yes. Megan now works in Jerilyn’s former seat as the bookkeeper.
Securing a loan to buy the shop was tricky, because Bryant and Scofield lacked collateral. The pair secured a referral from D.L. Evans Bank, two loans through different Small Business Administration programs, and two nonbank lenders, Montana Idaho Community Development Corp. and C7a.
The Montana-Idaho CDC specializes in lending to “nearly bankable” borrowers with solid business plans who lack collateral, President Dave Glaser said.
More small-business owners are selling to employees each year, Glaser said. “I think it has something to do with the baby boomer generation aging out of running their businesses and selling them to managers,” he said.
Bryant and Scofield are grateful to the Plimmers for trusting them and for the sequence of events that led to them taking ownership.
“It’s so important for us to remember how God has blessed the things we’ve put our hands to,” Scofield said. “How we all got here is not coincidental. That’s powerful.”
Zach Kyle: 208-377-6464, @ZachKyleNews