For many Detroiters, the Motor City runs in their blood. Cars, music, hard work – the defining factors of our City become the defining factors of their character, creating one-of-a-kind personalities and exceptional people. Without question, Joe, who lives at Oakmont Parkway, is one of those folks.
Cars Run in the Family
A native Detroiter, Joe grew up in the city, eventually graduating from St. Joseph High School on Detroit’s east side. He got his first job at Sears and Roebuck on Van Dyke, and after a year of customer service, hard times hit and Joe was part of the more than 75% of the workforce that was laid off. Always a hard worker, this didn’t stop him from earning a living – and he was soon working at the Dodge Main plant helping to put cars on the road. He worked there for several years until his father, also a veteran of another major Detroit car company, convinced him to join the family business.
“[My Dad] worked at Ford, and then he went into his own business selling fish and chickens,” Joe said. “My dad said ‘I don’t want to you to spend your time working in a factory’, so I went into his business with him – and soon after met my wife at the Vanity Ballroom.”
Just three months later, Joe and the love of his life were engaged – but there was still one very important issue he had to contend with before they could tie the knot. “She said, ‘until you get a steady job, we’re not going to get married,“ Joe said, chuckling. “So she went to the newspaper and she got me a job selling cars at Margolis Plymouth on Joseph Campeau.” The rest, as they say, is history.
The Top Car Man in Michigan
Just six months into his tenure at Margolis, it was clear that Joe was one heck of a salesman. He won a trip to the New York World’s Fair in 1964, and was soon ranked as the coveted Top Car Salesman in Michigan – a title he would hold eight more times in his extremely successful career. To this day, Joe wears a ring that features one diamond for every year he held the title.
From Margolis, Joe moved to Jim Riehls Roseville Chrysler-Plymouth Roseville, where he did most of his selling – winning trips to San Francisco and Las Vegas, as well as countless awards and plaques in the industry. Through his job, he not only got the chance to make customers for life but also got to rub some pretty impressive shoulders, including Detroit Red Wings all-time great Gordie Howe – a special treat for a hockey fan like Joe.
Though selling cars was his profession, Joe also always loved music – a passion that he followed from his early days in school when he took up the trumpet. He counts Harry James (another trumpet player) as his favorite artist, but he also enjoys the tunes of many of James’ contemporaries like Glenn Miller.
“My older sister and I used to go see all of those bands,” he said. “Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey. Frank Sinatra – all of them. Many at the Fox Theater downtown.”
Though he stopped selling cars in the 90s, Joe remains as passionate as ever. He’s been at Oakmont Parkway for several years now, and is enjoying his retirement. “I’m very happy here,” Joe said. “They’re really wonderful people and they treat me good.”
And along with a bunch of new neighbors and friends, Joe also found one or two familiar faces at Parkway. “When I moved in, another resident came up to me and said ‘hey, didn’t you sell me a car?” Joe said. “It was a customer. A very happy customer of mine.”