After 40 years at Red Oak Chrysler, Sandholm retires

A familiar face at Red Oak Chrysler has retired from full-time work.
Jana Sandholm, who has worked for the dealership for the past 40 years, retired on Feb. 28. An open house was held at the dealership to wish her well, that drew numerous friends and customers.
Sandholm said her path to Red Oak Chrysler was an interesting one. Back when she and her husband were first married, Sandholm said she worked for Houghton Bank, and she became a stay-at-home mom after the birth of her two children. They were also renting a farm at the time. When her husband expressed a desire to buy a farm, he urged her to find another job to secure insurance for the family, so Sandholm said she started looking.
“I went downtown for a job, and at this time, there were stores all around the square. Danny Anderson, Mickey Anderson’s father, came out of Montgomery County Bank. I knew he banked at Houghton, because I had worked there, so I joked with him that he was at the wrong bank,” Sandholm said. “He told me he was looking for a bookkeeper, and asked if I knew anyone who needed a job. When I told him I was looking, he asked me if I could start the next day, and that was the beginning of my time with Red Oak Chrysler.”
Sandholm had done bookkeeping at Houghton Bank prior to leaving the job, and she worked as a bookkeeper for Red Oak Chrysler for about 10 years before taking over a sales role from one of the older salesmen who was retiring.
“When I first went into it, you had to go to regional training classes, and I was the only gal among hundreds of male trainees, so I was sort of a native to the women going into this industry. Now, there’s probably just as many women sales associates as there are men,” Sandholm stated.
Job hopping has become a regular occurrence nowadays, but Sandholm said the people of Red Oak Chrysler made her want to stay with the dealership year after year.
“It’s like we’re all a big family. We all get along like brothers and sisters. We laugh, we cry, and we’re very close. As far as the job, it’s not hard. I visit with people all day long. So many of my friends I never would have known without this job. This is where I met them, and now they’re some of my best friends.”
According to Sandholm, the process of selling cars has become a lot different since she first started.
“For one thing, customers have much more knowledge than they did in the past, with the internet now available. Electric cars are also coming out, and that is a whole new system of learning things,” Sandholm commented.
It was the changing times and a desire to spend more time with her family that led to Sandholm’s decision to step back.
“You have to be really on your game anymore. I’m getting older, and it’s harder to learn and maintain. I’m also at the age where I only have one grandchild still in high school, and I’ve had to miss a lot of activities, so I don’t want to miss any more of those. My husband also passed away two years ago.  I still live on the farm and do all the mowing and things, so I feel there’s enough to keep me busy.”
The retirement will also give Sandholm an opportunity to spend time with the rest of her family and her other grandchildren, who all live in the Red Oak area.
Sandholm said she wasn’t quite able to pinpoint one memory that stood out more than the others over the years.
“I’ll put it this way. I can’t think of a bad memory, because of the people I’ve worked with here,” Sandholm said.
While Sandholm said there are things she’ll miss, she still plans to have a connection to Red Oak Chrysler for the near future.
“I’ll miss visiting with friends and meeting new friends through the job, as well as seeing them on a daily basis. I’m still going to fill in for them when someone is on vacation. I’ll still be in and out, and be a part of it, just not on a daily basis, which makes the retirement announcement a bit easier. They didn’t take my key, I’ll put it that way, so that’s always a good thing. I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with Red Oak Chrysler for so many years, and I’m happy I can continue to do so on a reduced basis,” Sandholm explained.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

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