Greg Dutch, until recently the owner of Dutch Chevrolet, started cleaning cars in the reconditioning department of his father's and uncle’s dealership when he was 12, back in 1968.

Dutch, who sold the family-owned business July 21 to Mark Politte, owner of Stanley Subaru in Ellsworth, and longtime Stanley employee Neil Harriman, said his grandfather started the dealership in 1926.

Back then, the dealership was called Drisko-Dutch Chevrolet and was located at the corner of Beaver and High streets in downtown Belfast. What now is a paved parking lot for several buildings used to have a Mobil station at the corner, where the dealership sold cars.

“The year I was born, in 1956, my father and uncle bought my grandfather out,” Dutch said. That same year they bought the current Belmont Avenue property as well. The reason for expansion, he noted, was that there was no room for a body shop at the downtown location.

“When they bought this property, there was nothing up here,” he said. A farmhouse was across the way, Viking Lumber was located where AutoZone is currently, and “Route 1 went right through town and over the little bridge,” Dutch said, referring to the Armistice Bridge. “They had no idea there was going to be a bypass at the time,” he said.

After his stint cleaning cars, Dutch went on to work in several other departments at the dealership. “I would work in the parts department during the day when I wasn’t in school,” he said. “And at night I would work over in the body shop, grinding rust off.

“All the stuff that everybody wants to do,” he joked. During his summer break after finishing his junior year at college, Dutch began selling cars. After he graduated from college in 1979, he began working full-time at the dealership.

“I hadn’t decided to come back … but my future wife had a little to do with that,” he said. The pair had known each other since first grade, he said, “but she wouldn’t date me until I was in college.”

In 1979 and 1980, during the gas crisis, Chevy introduced the Citation, the first of the front-wheel-drive cars.

“It was busy back then — the salesperson wrote the paperwork and did everything,” Dutch said. “But there were only 13 pieces of paper, compared to the 50 or 60 there are now. Everyone was buying the smaller cars, and it was the first time front-wheel drive came out. We would have 30 or 40 (vehicles) in the order bank, and they were all pre-sold.” Dutch said.

Silverados and Chevrolet trucks were always big sellers too, according to Dutch, as were the Chevettes. "We would get 13 (Chevettes) on a truck and they would be sold almost in the same day. When the gas crisis came, people changed what they were driving.”

His two children, Dutch said, both have found career paths that they enjoy outside the automotive industry. His son owns a restaurant called Dutch’s in Portland and his daughter teaches high school math in Merrimac, New Hampshire.

When his kids were young, Dutch said, he would dial into work on his modem so he did not have to come back to the dealership at night. “It was tough on my wife, because I had to get work done, so I'd come back.”

“After we figured that out,” he said, “I was able to stay home and she could do her things, and I could be home while the kids were sleeping. That was huge.”

While the dealership is in transition, Dutch said, he will stay on as comptroller for three to five years. Recently, he said, he and new owner Politte were writing a press release about the sale, and, “I had written three to five years I would stay on and Mark scratched out the ‘three.’”

Dutch's 86-year-old father was present at the dealership when news of the sale was announced to the employees.

“I thought it was important for Dad to see who would take over the dealership,” he said. “… Dad got to hear Mark tell them how he and I had known each other, and how important customers, employees and community are to him, and how we share those same values."

Dutch said his time with the dealership has been a great experience and he feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in every department. He has also made many long-lasting connections, both professionally and through his customers.

“It’s amazing the amount of people that you meet in this industry,” he said. “That I will miss, someday when I do retire. For now, I will be out running around.”

Dutch said he loves to be busy and transitioning to less work will take some getting used to. ”I’ve worked 70 to 80 hours a week since the '80s.”

He is looking forward to spending more time with his two granddaughters and with his wife, who, he said, “is a saint to put up with me.”