The longtime leader of one of the country’s biggest auto dealership groups has died.
Herbert “Bert” Boeckmann, 92, led Los Angeles-based Galpin Motors for decades after joining it as a salesman in 1953 and moving up the ranks.
He became general manager in 1957, president in 1964 and sole owner of Galpin Ford in 1968, according to an obituary released by Galpin.
Smack-dab in the middle of Southern California in the North Hills area of the San Fernando Valley, the nexus of post-war car culture and the Golden State’s ballooning population at the time, Galpin Ford was the brand’s top-volume location for 29 years running, the auto group said.
As Galpin grew along with L.A.’s sprawl, Boeckmann developed into an industry pioneer, and the auto group credits him with multiple firsts: the first installed sunroof in the U.S.; in-house vehicle customization; the 4-by-4 “craze,” as it puts it; the introduction of custom conversion vans; and vehicle leasing to individual buyers. The obituary says he was also the first Mustang Shelby dealer.
Galpin Motors today ranks 63rd on Automotive News' list of the top 150 U.S. auto dealer groups, with 13,276 in new retail vehicles sold in 2022 and 6,779 used units.
The group says his success was primarily a product of his focus on the customer.
“He always welcomed people with open arms from all walks of life. Whether you were a customer, an employee, a stranger or world leader, he treated everyone with respect,” said his son Beau Boeckmann, Galpin Motors’ president and COO.
Among other honors, the elder Boeckmann was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame and won the Time Magazine National Quality Dealer of the Year award in 1985.
A celebration of life is scheduled for 10 a.m. on May 20 at Shepherd Church in Porter Ranch, when doors will open at 9 a.m. with a video tribute.
LEARN MORE: Ford Honors Galpin’s Bert Boeckmann With First ‘Dealer Hall of Fame’ Award
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