Bill Lyons served in the 8th Air Force 91st bomb division during World War II. After the war, the U.S. economy was flat and Bill needed to go to work. He married his childhood sweetheart LeVon Toepfer. The War economy was trying to adjust to civilian needs. Car manufacturers were trying to convert airplane production to automobiles, which was a slow process. Standard Oil Company was trying to get back into the oil business and had built many new two-bay filling stations. They gave Bill a station to run in Laurens, Iowa. The work was good but the hours were very long. Four years later Bill was offered a job at the Buick store in town. The position was service and parts manager. Before long, he was also the sales manager. Bill had an opportunity to join a Buick store in Dickinson North Dakota. These were fun years in an all new environment out on the western prairie of North Dakota.
The Buick dealer sold out and Bill was offered a job in His wife's hometown of Mason City, Iowa. It was 1953. His wife was eager to return to her hometown with her first new baby. Bill worked for eleven years as sales manager of the local Ford dealer Pritchard Motor Company. Pritchard then sold the dealership to Bob Schukei Ford in 1964.
Bill worked as a sales manager for Bob Schukei Ford for three years. He then decided to strike out on his own and start a used car store.
Bill borrowed $40,000 from the First National Bank and moved in next to his father-in-law and started a small used car dealership. It was hard to wear all the hats needed to run the operation. Bill did everything from reconditioning to selling.
In late 1967 Toyota had come to North Iowa. Delose Ricky, a friend and a local used car dealer had just been given the franchise. He was having trouble with the Toyota distribution out of Chicago, so he decided to sell Bill the franchise.
The Toyota Corona was the best seller in those days. They had one exasperating fault; they wouldn't start when it was cold. The Toyota dealers complained to Toyota about the problem. They finally brought a planeload of Japanese Toyota engineers to Bemidgi, MN. They put twenty-five Toyota Coronas out on the ice on a sub zero weekend. Monday morning they were instructed to start them. Shortly after this experience we had no further starting problems.
As the business grew, Bill moved to a larger facility at 2210 South Federal Avenue in 1973. Soon after the move the country experienced a gas shortage. Long lines at the pump. This is when Bill acquired the Peugeot franchise. This was a well-built French car. A diesel engine was available which got very good gas mileage. Bill soon became the largest volume Peugeot dealer in Iowa.
In 1980 the Dodge franchise was available in Mason City. Chrysler was about to go bankrupt. Bill was not sure whether he should acquire the franchise. He consulted with his daughter Debbie who worked at the dealership and she encouraged him to do it.
Soon after acquiring the Dodge franchise Bill's other daughter Becky married John Hosmer. John was employed as a CPA and wanted to become involved in the car business. John soon took over the management of the dealership.