Provo legacy business and its owner retire the same day – Daily Herald

Posted: March 5, 2020 at 12:47 pm

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Mark Harmon is not sure if hell be riding into retirement sunset in his GMC truck, or on his favorite horse. Whichever one he chooses, his retirement is going to be a new road he is looking forward to traveling.

Until last Friday, Harmon was the dealer/operator of Harmons Buick, Cadillac and GMC Trucks in Provo. He is the third generation of Harmons to run the dealership that began with his grandfather Clarence and great uncle Ap Harmon in 1936.

In 1967 his father CJ Harmon took over the business, and in 1978 Mark Harmon and his brother Brant Harmon bought their dad out. Brant retired six years ago leaving Mark Harmon to keep the family dealership running.

From Cadillacs, Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles, to Subarus, GMCs and Buicks, the Harmons dealership has been a backbone business of Provo for more than 70 years.

It started at 100 West and University Avenue, Mark Harmon said. It burnt to the ground a few years later.

By the early 1940s the dealership had moved to its current location and over the years has expanded on 100 North on the 300 and 400 West blocks in downtown.

Because its been a family business for so long I felt an extra need to continue the business even when it wasnt making much, Mark Harmon said.

Mark Harmon said he wanted to honor his grandfather and father. Theres nothing magical about the success of the business, its just hard work.

Mark Harmon worked 12 hours a day six days a week all those years, said Robin Harmon, his wife.

The dealership consumed most of his time and energy. He felt a tremendous amount of responsibility to his employees, she said.

Mark Harmon was a quiet doer; he served on boards and committees around town. Sundays were a different kind of rest day for him as he served in several callings in his church.

He also served as a basketball coach for kids. He was never home before 7 p.m., Robin Harmon said. He had 10 to 12 hour days and he never missed a day.

Besides his family, Mark Harmon says he loves trucks and he loves his family ranch up South Fork in Provo Canyon. He intends to spend a lot of time with all of them in retirement.

Mark Harmons son Tanner Harmon said he has countless memories of watching his dad at work.

One of the most impressionable stories was when I was a little boy watching my dad handle a situation with a single mother one evening, Tanner Harmon said. I dont recall why I was at the dealership that evening, but I do remember what happened. A young mother with little kids parked her old, barely-running, tan-colored car in front of the dealership entrance. She walked in and asked to speak to dad. She told him that she would give her car to the dealership if he would give her money to buy groceries for her family.

Tanner Harmon said he remembers his father treating the lady respectfully and asking her to take a seat and explain her situation.

Dad ended up telling the lady that he could not take her car, but that he would give her money to buy groceries, he said. I remember the look of relief and gratitude on the face of the lady as she walked out of the dealership and drove away. I remember feeling so proud of my dad and, in my young mind, feeling that in some way I was a part of helping her.

Mark Harmon knows what hardships are like, and Robin Harmon does too.

There have been some really hard years, Robin Harmon said. He (Mark) is so honest, just really incredible integrity. Hes just so kind.

At 66, Mark Harmon said it was time to retire. I can see down the road. This dealership needs a new building and to grow.

Mark Harmon sold the dealership to Don Jones of Spartan Automotive based in Ashland, Oregon. Jones has nine dealerships in the western United States.

The new dealership will be called Provo Buick, GMC, Cadillac with Spartan Management as the holding company.

Harmon gave out kudos to his brother, Brant Harmon, who he said kept the business running so long because of his financial acumen and his attention to detail.

He also is grateful to the many employees that have stayed with the company for so many years. They will be retained by Jones. The company averages about 30 employees. He also gave a nod to the help from Provos mayors office and economic development.

We have had such wonderful employees, Mark Harmon said. They take such good care of our customers.

Mark and Robin Harmon wont be taking any cruises or big trips to Europe, they said; they are just looking forward to the trips they will make to see their children and grandchildren and then spend six days a week with the horses at the ranch. A sunset worth riding into.

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Provo legacy business and its owner retire the same day - Daily Herald

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March 5th, 2020 at 12:47 pm

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