I love Idaho.
It’s probably one of the best states around, in my opinion. We have everything here—recreation, mountains, a lot of lakes, rivers, fishing, hunting, hiking, backpacking. We’ve got the only bridge (Perrine Bridge) in the US that you can jump off without a permit—B.A.S.E. jump off—every day, 365 days a year.
We’ve got everything: snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling. Jerome and Twin Falls are just perfect; we’re right within an hour each direction to be in a major mountain range and have all those activities at our fingertips. Plus we have a big canyon right here in our town, the Snake River Canyon, we got a lot of recreation that way.
My wife and I started Country Auto. We’re still together, and still here every day running it. We really care about the people. Care about our employees. Care about the town and the community so we just do business right, try to take care of people.
How I got started is kind of funny.
In high school, I got a job washing cars in a car lot in a dealership in Twin Falls, the town next to Jerome. I went from washing cars to detailing them. After I earned some money detailing cars, I had a little truck and I lowered it.
I was young and dumb in high school so I lowered it. But I was a big snowboarder, too. So winter comes, and I was like, well this isn’t good to go snowboarding with. So I put an ad in the paper to buy a Subaru. I wanted a four-wheel drive Subaru to go snowboarding.
I got a call and I bought one. It needed a little bit of work which I could do. Then I got another call, so I bought that one too. Then I got another call, so I bought that one too. So I fixed them all and put them up for sale, and sold a couple. I kept one.
And was like wow, I made some money, that’s pretty cool. So I did it again. Just kept doing it all through high school. I sold a ton of Subarus to my high school classmates and to everybody else.
From there, I moved to Sun Valley. I was detailing for a Ford dealership up there. They allowed me to buy their trades, and I would fix a little bit of things, sell them, and continue to do it.
And then I realized that I was making more money on the side peddling a few cars than I was working full-time, so I decided to open a lot.
My wife and I came back down to Jerome. I had two cars, put ‘em out front. Started a car lot. I worked a morning job from 6 in the morning ‘til 9 in the machine shop, then I opened the car lot, went home, showered, cleaned up, opened the car lot 10am to 7 pm. Then from 7 pm to midnight I detailed cars for another dealer.
My wife did daycare during the day, she worked and sold cell phones at night—so we lived off that money. So we sold a car, and then had two, then we had to buy another one, then we had three, then four, then five, and it just kept snowballing. People kept asking to make payments, so we let a few people make payments on a couple cars. That kept growing; we started doing more buy-here pay-here, that kept getting bigger. So we started our own finance company. And that just kept getting bigger. That was 22 years ago.
We spent the last two and a half years developing a park in our town. Well, there was a park there. But it just had grass. We were very involved in putting a skate park in it four or five years ago. We wanted to add to it, so we raised the money in the community for the last two and a half years. And we just got it done last spring and it’s been open for the summer.
We put a splash pad, put in a BMX pump track, an amphitheater, a playground, and five picnic shelters in this park.
It’s beautiful. It’s so packed down there. Every day I drive by and it’s just packed. Really cool to see. It makes me smile and makes me feel proud.