George Gaudin’s family moved from Tennessee to Northern California in a covered wagon, accompanied by their livestock and almost nothing else. In his early 20s, Mr. Gaudin earned money working on his family’s lettuce farm. It was in this role that he accidentally stumbled upon what would be the world’s first commercial utilization of front-wheel drive in U.S. agriculture. One day, he realized he could get more power from his father’s Ford Model T Truck by putting the cab and bed on backward. The vehicle not only made his lettuce farming more efficient because it allowed him to get the produce to the markets quicker, but it caught the attention of Ford Motor Company. In 1922, they approached Mr. Gaudin about his concept. The smart opportunist in Mr. Gaudin seized the moment and rather than accepting money, he spoke of his desire to become a Ford dealer and a deal was struck. The first “dealership” building was in Escalon, Calif. and opened in 1926. He moved the store several times in the next few decades to larger markets in the northern California area.
In the mid-1950s, Mr. Gaudin sold his Ford store in Salinas and moved to Newport Beach where he opened up Gaudin Ford in Buena Park, just minutes from the popular attraction, Knotsberry Farm. His son-in-law, Don Ackerman, shared his ambition to help run the family business. A few years after working for a Long Beach, Calif. dealership and only after demonstrating his aptitude as a business partner, Mr. Gaudin purchased a Ford dealership in Las Vegas and allowed his son-in-law to manage it. Mr. Ackerman devoted the next 40-plus years to the family business’ success.
In 1972, Mr. Gaudin decided to retire from active participation in the car business. He had two Ford stores at the time – one in Las Vegas and his dealership in Buena Park, Calif. Mr. Gaudin presented Mr. Ackerman and his brother-in-law, Ray Andrews, with a hard-hitting proposal of either buying the Ford business, or allowing Fletcher Jones to buy both stores. He gave his sons-in-law the first right of refusal. The fork-in-the-road ultimatum resulted in the Buena Park dealership being sold to Fletcher Jones, and the Las Vegas dealership remained with the Ackerman family.
In 1974, after Mr. Ackerman’s son, Gary, graduated from college, history repeated itself and Gary approached his dad with the same curiosity to be in the car business. Don gave him the same valuable lesson that Mr. Gaudin gave him; he advised Gary to make a choice between moving to either Denver or Southern California – the two fastest growing automotive markets at the time – and get his feet wet. A determined young Gary packed up his minimal belongings and applied for a job with the San Fernando Valley Galpin Ford dealership, owned by Bert Boeckmann, one of the industry’s most successful businessman in the history of selling cars. He was granted the job. After about 18 months, Mr. Ackerman called his son asking him to come back and help run the business. Gary kindly declined the offer because it wasn’t a managerial role that paid more money; instead he enjoyed his freedom and salary and spent four years working for Galpin Ford.
At the tail-end of 1979, Gary made his way back to Las Vegas to help run the Gaudin Motor Company. In March of 1982, the family opened the East Sahara Ave. location, moving from their location on the Strip and Charleston Blvd., as they had outgrown that location. Approximately ten years later, Gary bought the Jaguar franchise in Las Vegas from Chaisson Motor Cars. In 1986, the group purchased Gaudin Import Center on Boulder Highway, which consisted of Porsche, Volkswagen and Audi. By 1989, Gaudin Import Center had evolved to house solely Porsche, relocated to East Sahara Ave., adjacent to Gaudin Ford, and later added Jaguar to its showroom. In 1993, Gary officially bought his dad’s company, Gaudin Ford, which relocated to the 215 west beltway and Rainbow Blvd, in 2012. In April of 2000, Gaudin Motor Company opened Jaguar Porsche of Las Vegas, located on West Sahara Ave., which in September of 2015 moved to a new multi-million dollar Porsche-only facility right next door to Gaudin Ford.
For more information, visit www.gaudinmotorcompany.com.