Going Local: Brad Barker Honda
Brad Barker graduated from Bloomington High School in 1970 and Illinois State University in 1974. In 1975 he joined his father, Bill, and uncle Al at a Honda dealership.
“Honda was looking for dealers and we made the right choice. We got 15-20 cars a month and a Civic Hatchback was selling for about $1,995,” Owner and President Brad Barker said.
The Honda dealership was initially part of Barker Motor Co., which was an Oldsmobile dealer. In 1981, Honda required all of its dealers to have stand-alone buildings, so they moved the Honda dealership to the corner of Veterans Parkway and Oakland Avenue and became “Brad Barker Honda.”
“The price of gasoline was really going up and everybody wanted a small, economical car. We were getting 25 cars a month and had a one-year waiting list,” Brad said.
In 1987, Brad Barker Honda moved to its current location. In 2001, the company completed a major renovation and now has the adjacent property to the east for vehicle storage and a service garage. The company has 42 full-time and eight part-time employees.
“We have a hard time finding quality employees,” said Brad, adding that a mechanic in today’s auto world needs to understand a car engine and all of its technological parts.
“Our biggest challenge today is overcoming the internet,” said Brad. “Ninety-five percent of our customers have been on the internet and researched the market.” Brad also said the internet has made it difficult for the company to establish relationships with their customers.
Still, Brad Barker Honda sells about 85% of its cars via salesmen and only 15% via direct internet purchases.
“The CR-V has been our best seller the last four years. It has taken over the lead from the Accord. The whole industry has slowly been changing from cars to trucks. The CR-V is considered a truck; it has more room, comfortably seats five and you sit up a little higher. I have personally driven a CR-V for the last 10 years. It’s easier to get into and more comfortable,” said Brad.
The sales floor is open Monday 9:00—8:00, Tuesday-Friday 9:00—6:00, Saturday 9:00—5:00 and closed on Sunday.