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Jerry's Chevrolet and Corvette
Even before there was a Jerry’s Chevrolet and Corvette, Jerry Barr and Barry Konken shared a passion for corvettes. Jerry would consult with Barry on various corvettes he was considering purchasing for his used car dealership in Lennox. At the time Barry owned a business in Tea called BK Vette, Inc. This went on for a few years until 2 years ago. A few months earlier Jerry Barr had an opportunity to purchase the Chevrolet dealership in Beresford. Jerry saw more than an underperforming new car dealership located near a major city. He knew the dealership had great upside potential but he was looking for more. He was looking to re-invent himself with the dealership. Then one day he had a conversation with Barry Konken about their shared passion, corvettes. Eventually the conversation shifted to Barry sharing his knowledge and experience going to work for Jerry’s new dealership. The idea was born and the re-invention began.
Jerry’s Chevrolet and Corvettes is located about a half hour south of Sioux Falls on I-29 in Beresford. The dealership had been owned and operated for years by Dan Cotton. It was sold to Yankton businessman John Hageman and in August of 2004 was purchased by Jerry. Jerry immediately upgraded the facilities and filled the lot with more Chevys. Even with an improved facility, more employees, and more vehicles, he knew he needed to do something to set him apart from other competitors. Jerry has always liked corvettes. When asked how many he has owned over the years, he replied, “lots”. Jerry knew he needed another attraction to the dealership in addition to the upgraded facilities, more employees, and more vehicles and it was corvettes. And that’s where Barry Konken came in.
Barry grew up in Hartington, Nebraska in the family business. He worked in the family business and before he could legally drive, purchased his first car, a Pontiac Trans Am. His father Gerald always had an affinity for Corvettes which started with his first new Corvette purchase a 1963 Corvette Split Window Coupe. The passion and love for these cars was passed on to his son Barry. They began attending the Black Hills Corvette Rally in Spearfish, SD together in 1986 and have not missed a year since
Barry and his father took their love for Corvettes a step farther and began selling them. Later Barry married and moved to Sioux Falls to open his own Corvette dealership: BK Vette, which eventually led to joining up with Jerry Barr at Jerry’s Chevrolet of Beresford. Barry always knew that he could better serve his customers if he had a full service Chevrolet dealership. Now that he and Jerry have joined forces they can offer everything from new and pre-owned Corvettes, financing, service, maintenance, parts, accessories, detail, paint and body work, along with a full line up of new Chevrolet cars and trucks, some of the nicest pre-owned cars in the region, campers and RV’s all from a life long dedicated staff of car enthusiasts.
So just over a couple of years ago, these two corvette lovers got together to help customers purchase the “car of their dreams”. “Buying a corvette is a financial commitment and an emotional decision. It is important that we allow our customers enough time to make the right decision”, says Konken. Our experience with Corvettes allows us to ask the right questions so our customer can make the right decision. “Many times customers have come in with a budget and model in mind. After a lengthy consultation, they often find that what they thought they wanted is not what they wanted at all”, notes Barr. We treat each purchase of a Corvette very personally because the car is very personal. We want it to be a fun process for the customer. We want to educate you so you know when you drive out the door, the car fits you and your personality. For that reason we take time with our customers. We want our customers to buy the Corvette right because we know there is a very good chance we will buy that vehicle back from them when they are ready to purchase another one”. To illustrate this point, Barry said they sold one Corvette three times and it had less than 10,000 miles on it! A testament to this high level of customer service is selling one customer 10 Corvettes.
With the largest selection of Corvettes in the Midwest, customers have a wide range of choices, from new 2009 models, to late model used, to specialty Vettes like a 1963 red sting-ray. While they sell “more than their fair share” of new Corvettes, a majority of their Vette sales are used. An example of a unique Vettes they sell is a 1963 Corvette Stingray. The ’63 was purchased this past January at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Phoenix. “I didn’t go down there looking to purchase this vehicle”, says Barr. This was my third time at the auction and this was my first purchase. The minute I saw this car I knew it was special. It caught my eye immediately. As soon as I saw it I called Barry and he immediately began to research the car online. Jerry spent 45 minutes inspecting the vehicle before the bidding started. All of this work was condensed down to about 10 minutes, the actual bidding time for the vehicle. “This Vette is a true classic and I think I bought it right”, says Barr. It is available for sale for $125,000.
So what’s the most popular color of Corvettes? “It depends on the year”, says Barr. Late model vehicle purchasers prefer crystal red and jet stream blue. Older models color preferences are red, black, and yellow. Transmission preferences are split evenly between automatic and manual. The addition of the 6 speed paddle shift automatic in 2006 allows the driver the option of manually shifting the car from steering wheel mounted paddles. This has proved to be widely accepted by enthusiasts of both automatic and manual transmissions.
Women influence the decision of buying Corvettes substantially. Many Corvettes are purchased for woman but even if the purchase is for the man in the family the woman influences selections like exterior and interior colors, options, and accessories.
Nearly everyone involved in the dealership from Jerry Barr the owner, Barry Konken the Corvette specialist, Bruce Shay the general manager, Todd VanGelder the service manager, Jim Bye the parts manager, the sales staff, the service technicians, and the detail departments have been in the car business since their childhood. They have one member of our sales department John Landon who has been in the industry for 50+ years. Working at the Jerry’s Chevrolet of Beresford is much more than a job it is our lifelong passion.
Jerry’s service department is staffed with experienced and GM certified techs that share the passion for Corvettes. They love it when a Vette is pulled into their stall for maintenance work. They become personally involved with the Corvettes they work on because of their passion for them.
Due to the influences of the Internet and the experience and network built up over decades of Corvette sales, they have sold Corvettes in all four corners of the United States and as far away as the Netherlands.
One of their most memorable sales was to local businessman Cecil Schoeneman. Widely known for his love of exotic import cars like Lamborghini and Ferrari, Schoeneman took a ride in Dr. Jim McGrann’s Corvette. Having lost his sight years ago, Schoeneman depends on his “feel” for a vehicle. It only took one ride in a Corvette to convince Schoeneman to purchase one the following day. This is a true testament to the true American sports car.
Many of their competitors have only 1 or 2 Corvettes available for viewing. They always have 30+ show quality Corvettes in stock. Konken says, “Through the many years I have been in this industry I have heard countless times from many fist time Corvette owners – I went to my nearby dealer because I had always wanted to own a Corvette. They only had one or perhaps two to look at and I chose the Blue one because I liked it better than the Red one. Quite often shortly after ownership these people became aware that perhaps the car they chose wasn’t really the right choice for them. Our variety is so large that we have nearly every year, body style, and color of Corvette produced in recent years in stock and available for purchase. This may seem overwhelming to some. By having such a wide variety of cars available to sample we can help or customers find the car of their dreams. Quite often people come to our dealership with a certain year, model, or color in mind. Once they have had a chance to see just how many different years, styles, colors, and amenities are available in Corvettes today they may find the car they had in their mind perhaps was not the best choice for them and end up purchasing much more car then they ever dreamed of owning. Our motto is “Dreams Delivered Daily”.”
Through our years of being in the business and specific understanding of Corvettes they have developed their 1998 Mallett Corvette Coupe - 1 of 17 produced 500hp modified 6.1L Corvette engine featured in the Mallett Corvette Coupe own in house “Performance Package” for late model Corvettes. This is available exclusively at The Corvette Center at Jerry’s Chevrolet of Beresford. This package add up to 85HP on the new 505HP Corvette Z06. This package includes an electronic adjustable exhaust switch. This gives the owner the option of having a “ferocious race car” sound or a quiet “soccer mom van” sound allows for quiet comfortable long distance touring at a flip of a switch.
This true American sport car has turned into a world class performance vehicle. Today it is the fastest vehicle in the $250,000 price range and under. The Corvette continues to attract new customers every year. Jerry and Barry sell 100’s of Corvettes annually. “The experience here is fun, educational, and creates value with the purchase. When you are talking used, they find the best cars around then spend more time and money reconditioning them to make them better than new. There are lots of Corvettes available for sale but only a small percentage of them become a Jerry’s Corvette. “That’s why we have so many repeat customers”, says Konken. “They know they will leave here with a good car”. It’s not unusual for customers to rave about their experience buying a Corvette from Jerry’s. They have sold vehicles all over the United States, many of them sight unseen, but 75% of their sales come from a 500 mile radius of this tiny town of Beresford. Our customers have confidence that our vehicles will be exactly what we said they would be when they arrive. “We love Corvettes and love to sell Corvettes”, say Barr and Konken.
The Vette Event at The Corvette Center at Jerry’s Chevrolet of Beresford is coming Saturday, May 16th. This is the 3rd annual event that attracts hundreds of Corvette enthusiasts from throughout the region. It is a place where friends meet to see everything from latest Corvette offerings, Accessories, Performance Parts and Packages, and Apparel. This year’s event will include a judged Car Show with T-shirts given away to all entrants and trophies awarded to the top finalists. All proceeds will be given to Breast Cancer Awareness. Lunch will be served along with a DJ playing tunes throughout the day. The end of the day is capped off with a burn out contest. This is free event open to all Corvette enthusiasts.