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Plach Auto turns 30

New London dealer celebrates anniversary

By Scott Bellile

Celebrating three decades in business, Plach Automotive has plenty more to go, its owner says.

“Business has grown,” Dan Plach said. “New London is good to us.”

Dan Plach, 47, has spent half his life working at Plach Automotive, 1101 N. Shawano St. That means he has witnessed scores of people reach a life milestone: purchasing their first car.

“Cars are exciting,” he said. “It’s always an exciting moment when somebody buys one or takes delivery of one. It’s exciting for them and for me.”

His father, Charlie Plach, started the business in 1987. Charlie Plach, 77, continues to work at his original dealership in the village of Coloma.

“Dad always worked in the car business,” Dan Plach said. “He was a service manager for 15 years or so at Cloud Buick in Appleton and then decided he wanted to own his own.”

In 1978, when Dan Plach was 8, his father opened Charles Automotive in Coloma, located 50 miles west of Oshkosh. Although he was too young to drive, Dan Plach spent time in the dealership and became fascinated with cars.

In 1986, General Motors asked Charlie Plach to open a second store due to his strong sales. That led him to New London where he bought the Tews dealership, which had operated along State Highway 54 since the 1940s.

“The location here was very, very good and a lot of potential,” Dan Plach said. “New London’s a very, very nice city and good location at the time with the highways – visibility was good. Plus, it had room to expand.”

Charlie Plach officially opened Plach Automotive on April 7, 1987. The dealership carried Chevrolet and Buick, along with GM’s now-discontinued Oldsmobile.

Dan Plach began working for his father in 1991 after earning a marketing degree from Fox Valley Technical College. Over the years, Dan Plach took over ownership.

Since 1991, he said the staff size has tripled to 29 people.

Working in automobile sales means keeping the storefront modern to follow branding guidelines and attract customers, Dan Plach said. Plach Automotive remodeled its showroom in 1989, added its service department in 1997, and remodeled more in 2012.

He aspires to expand his product line to continue growing the business.

To mark the 30th anniversary, Plach Automotive allowed New London High School students in DECA, Culture Club and FFA to hold three brat frys in the Plach parking lot. The business gave matching donations that led to each student group reeling in hundreds of dollars to help with its programming and travel expenses.

“I think it’s important for any type of business in a community like this is to be able to give back in some way,” sales and marketing manager Gwen Fischer said. “Being able to give back to the schools is I think a great way to touch a lot of people. Being around for 30 years, we’ve touched a lot of different families in this area.”

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