By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD — In August 1966 the Felker Motors business came under the sole ownership of Floyd Hamus and Warner Von Holzen. As the pair deliberated over a new moniker, they came up with a plan that would be fair and equal to both parties.
“When we bought it, we had to make a decision. Someone had to be the president, and the other would have the naming (rights),” said Hamus. “So we went out to have lunch, and we said, ‘Why don’t we flip a coin three times, and the guy that gets it two times out of the three times picks?’”
At the end of the coin flips, Hamus was the president of the company, Von Holzen was granted the right to have his initial first in line, and the business became known as V&H.
Hamus and Von Holzen almost immediately switched the focus of the dealership away from cars and trucks, finding a niche in specially equipped heavy trucks.
Back when Hamus and Von Holzen purchased the dealership, the business came with fuel pumps in front of the showroom on what was known as “Five Corners.”
“We didn’t want to be in the gasoline business. We wanted to be in the heavy truck and auto business,” said Hamus, so the gas pumps were removed.
In the mid-1970s, a showroom was added on, making the building large enough to hold 50 cars.
“That was the largest showroom in the state of Wisconsin when we built it,” recalled Hamus.
The pair then built a body shop, which they later added on to, and also added a service and parts center.
As the business expanded, Von Holzen neared retirement age, and Hamus began purchasing stock back to buy Von Holzen out of the business. By 1987 Von Holzen was fully retired from the dealership.
The business continued to grow, adding a training center and later an assembly plant.
As the company expanded, the V&H complex grew from 2 to 11 acres by purchasing 27 homes and businesses.
“We made a deal to buy everyone’s homes at 25 percent over the appraised value without even looking at it,” added Hamus.
In addition to the heavy truck stock, V&H now offered Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Plymouth vehicles.
After returning from Texas with his wife and a very young son, Floyd’s son Jeff Hamus resumed work at the dealership, becoming the general manager in car sales.
Floyd Hamus’ other children also remained active in the business with daughter Lisa working as office manager, daughter Shirley working in various jobs in the dealership, son-in-law John operating as heavy duty used truck manager, and son-in-law Monte working as manager of the concrete pumping sales division.
Meanwhile, Terry Frankland worked his way up in the company from parts manager to general manager in heavy truck sales.
“When dad retired in December 2000, that’s also when myself and Terry Frankland bought the heavy truck and auto business,” explained Jeff. “At the same time, my wife, Michelle, and I and my sister and her husband, John and Lisa Thornton, and my sister Shirley and her husband, Monte Lamer, purchased all of the properties,” which they continue to own today.
“In 2001 we bought the acreage on the north side (of Marshfield),” added Jeff. “That’s when we built the car store.”
The car business now resides on the north end as the heavy truck business remains on the south side of the city.
“In 2004 I sold my portion of the heavy truck business to Terry,” said Jeff, and the business became two separate entities.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2016, V&H Automotive provides the greater Marshfield area with new and used Ford, Lincoln, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, and Ram options from its location at 2414 N. Central Ave. V&H Automotive also specializes in vehicle maintenance and light repair, including tires, quick oil change, auto service, front end alignment, transmission service, and brake repair.