By Amanda Riley, Marketing, Rusty Drewing Automotive
Photos provided by Rusty Drewing Automotive
What is a legacy? For most, it is planting seeds in a garden they’ll never get to see. But for a fortunate few, the garden is flourishing in their own backyard. The automotive legacy of the Drewing family over the last 40 years is a shining example of one of the fortunate few. At one time, the organization was recognized as one of the top dealership groups in the country. Built by Gary R. Drewing, Sr. with the help of his son and business partner Rusty Drewing, the Joe Machens group grew to ten rooftops and 16 brands before the sale of eight dealerships in 2015. Rusty’s most recent acquisition of the Riley family’s Jefferson City Toyota and Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac dealerships began a new chapter in the Drewing legacy. Owned by the Riley family for 85 years, the purchase of the River City dealerships in December 2021 marks the first time the Drewing family name is on a dealership, now known as Rusty Drewing Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac and Rusty Drewing Toyota.
Rusty Drewing grew up in the automotive industry under the tutelage of his father, Gary. After graduating from college, Gary spent his formative years with Ford Motor Company in the 1970s. When Ford tried to advance his career with a move to Detroit, Gary decided his future was in the retail side of the business, eventually becoming the general manager of the Ford dealership in Jefferson City. In 1982, A.J. Neuner, who worked for Gary at Capital City Ford, arranged a life-changing meeting for Gary with Joe Machens, owner of the Ford dealership in Columbia. The rest, as they say, is history. Over the course of the next 40 years, Gary would transform Joe Machens Ford into one of the largest, most successful, and most respected automobile dealerships in the nation. Rusty joined his father in 2005 and expanded the already established Joe Machens’ brand through the acquisition of additional franchises and rooftops. Before selling eight of their ten dealerships in 2015, the Joe Machens organization had grown to $850 million in annual revenue and employed nearly 1,000 people. After the sales in 2015, Drewing Automotive was launched with their remaining dealerships, BMW of Columbia and Mercedes-Benz of Columbia.
Similar to his father, Rusty waited patiently for an opportunity to build upon his legacy. A future acquisition needed to be the right fit. Especially in today’s world of corporate consolidation and publicly-traded acquisitions, Rusty recognized that customers value a dealership that is locally owned and operated. Some of his fondest memories in the car business were with Capital City Ford in Jefferson City, a dealership he purchased in 2011 and sold in 2015. It was, therefore, a “match made in heaven” to be able to acquire the Jefferson City auto dealerships owned by the Riley family for 85 years. Rusty shares many business principles with the family-owned dealerships that are centered around taking care of the customer. In addition to the premier brands, Rusty was attracted to the businesses because of their loyal customer base, long-term employees, and overall culture.
Sadly, after one month of operation in the new dealerships, Rusty’s father, Gary, passed away peacefully on January 28, 2022. Gary’s impact on the community and the automotive industry in Missouri will be felt for years to come. Gary did not believe in absentee ownership, and neither does Rusty. The four dealerships, including BMW of Columbia and Mercedes-Benz of Columbia, will continue to grow and flourish under Rusty’s leadership. Now, with the Drewing family name on two dealerships, Jefferson City, Columbia and the mid-Missouri area will not forget the name behind the legacy.