At their last employer, Aaron Paden and Jeff Callahan didn’t feel like they could spend enough time with their families in Fremont.
The commute made them miss important parts of their children’s lives like cooking breakfast for them or reading them a book before bedtime.
“We’re at that pivotal age with the kids where they’re doing stuff you don’t want to miss out on,” Callahan said. “We were putting a lot of time in at our previous location, and we missed a lot of that.”
The two decided to come back to the city and open Fremont Auto Center, located at 249 N. Park Ave. in downtown Fremont three months ago.
Paden, who has 10 years experience in car sales financing, is the president, while Callahan, who has 20 years, is the general manager.
The dealership sells, buys and trades in different vehicles. Aside from auctions and customers, Paden said the Fremont Auto Center receives cars more suited for city driving from fellow dealerships in smaller cities.
“For example, my friend out in Broken Bow who owns Ranchland Ford traded for a Honda Fit. Well, in Broken Bow, a Honda Fit’s not something people are looking for,” he said. “Now, in a city like Fremont, it’s perfect for it.”
Fremont Auto Center offers financing and guaranteed asset protection coverage with its vehicles. Paden said the dealership tries to cater more to people who prefer cheap payments of $150 to $200 a month.
“Not everybody can go out and buy a $50,000 car,” he said. “We noticed that with the Fremont market, there weren’t many people targeting or trying to help it, so we wanted to fulfill that need we saw Fremont having.”
The dealership currently has around 22 vehicles for sale. Paden said he’s currently aiming to get closer to 30 or 40, but understands that it takes time, money and effort to get quality vehicles on the lot.
“You can’t just go out and have randomly 40 used vehicles ready to go,” he said. “It’s a building process, but we’re getting there.”
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All cars sold by Fremont Auto Center are either on the lot or at local vendors around town getting tune-ups and repairs.
“We try to use as much in Fremont as humanly possible because we want to really hammer home the hometown, go-local type of thing,” Paden said. “And being close to downtown has been really cool with that.”
While most car dealerships are on massive areas of land on the outskirts of cities, Fremont Auto Center made the decision to open in the heart of Fremont.
Both Paden and Callahan have ties to downtown, with Paden’s brother and uncle and Callahan’s wife all working in the area. Paden also said the dealership’s close proximity to the courthouse makes dealing with paperwork faster.
“It was really cool to just kind of tie into all that history that we have, which is why we have some of the pictures of Fremont on our walls,” he said.
The location for car dealerships doesn’t matter as much in the age of the internet, Paden said.
“Most people find the vehicle online before they show up at the place anymore,” he said.
“The physical location is pretty much secondary,” Callahan added.
Since remodeling the building and opening, the two said they’re received nothing but positive support from both local business owners and customers.
“We both grew up here, so we’re used to the ambiance of Fremont,” Callahan said. “We know what it has to offer, so now, we can just give it more of our time.”