A lifetime of selling cars, Ediger to retire after 45 years at Midway Motors

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By Jessie Wagoner

 

In 1976, Bill “Dutch” Ediger decided he would try his hand at selling cars. He joined the sales team at Midway Motors and never looked back. Now, 45 ½ years later, Ediger has decided to move to a slower lane, welcoming retirement at the end of year. 

“I will be here until Dec. 31,” Ediger said. “Then I will be working from home some. If there are customers that need anything, I’ll still be available to help. I just won’t be in the office.” 

 When he first started in the business, things were different. He learned his product by listening to training on cassette tapes. Back then, cars came standard with a cassette deck and then slowly transitioned to CD and now satellite radio. Pricing was much different, as well. In 1980, Ediger could sell a pickup truck for $4,500. Now trucks have amassed an impressive list of features and a hefty price tag, ranging from $40,000-$80,000. 

Many of the changes Ediger has seen over the years have been for the best. Safety features especially have improved and are standard on vehicles. Everything from backup cameras, blind spot sensors and airbags have been introduced since he began selling cars and have increased the safety his customers have come to expect. 

The changes have been plentiful during his lengthy career but there are some things that have stayed the same. The first is Ediger’s desire for face-to-face contact with his customers. He likes the relationship building that comes with selling cars. 

“I’ve always been honest and had integrity,” Ediger said. “I’ve always liked to look my customers in the eye, find out what they need and help them get it.” 

When Ediger finished his training, he quickly realized if he were going to sell cars, he would need to get out of the dealership. Instead of waiting for a customer to walk in the door, Ediger hit the road himself and began knocking on doors to meet people. He would introduce himself to potential customers, get to know them and their needs and then follow up when it was time for them to make their next purchase. He traveled the state, finding great success working with farmers, ranchers, and friendly people he met at coffee shops along the way. The technique worked so well he still has some customers that have bought numerous vehicles from him without ever stepping foot in the dealership. 

“I’ve always liked doing the deliveries myself,” Ediger said. “I have one couple that I’ve sold several cars to. They have moved to Colorado Springs now. I delivered their newest car to them there. They bought it sight unseen. I just delivered it.” 

Making the deliveries occasionally comes with unexpected rewards. Ediger once delivered a truck to a man in Ashland. Upon seeing Ediger didn’t have a ride back to McPherson the customer surprised him by offering to give him a lift home in an airplane. 

“Sure enough, he flew me back to McPherson,” Ediger said. “I got to the McPherson Airport and called Midway and asked for someone to come pick me up.” 

The relationships Ediger has built over the years and the unique experiences that have been presented are what he will miss the most. He says the daily social connection has kept him young at heart and made each day different. He has enjoyed not being tied to a desk and having the opportunity to roam as he sells. But now he has a few other things to focus on in retirement. 

Over the years, Ediger has amassed a large collection of records and key chains. One of his retirement goals is to organize and hopefully narrow down his collections. He also plans to spend time with his family and do some volunteer work with the Mennonite Disaster Fund. Since he will still be selling cars occasionally, he is looking forward to dipping his toes into retirement but not taking the leap entirely. 

Ediger will be available at Midway Motors until Dec. 31. After that, he says he is just a phone call away. 

“I’ll still be available,” Ediger said. “This is a just a slow down.”