HUBLER HOOSIER HYSTERIA
With six full months under our belt, so much has happened at Christi Hubler Chevrolet! Our staff has grown to approximately 30 total employees. We have sold 273 retail vehicles, plus dozens of miscellaneous others. Our sales count will likely increase before this article is even finished! We have raised a team of young energetic staff, and we have improved the job roles of those veteran employees who precede us.
I am very excited to elaborate on some of the most memorable moments of these past few months however, it will have to wait until my next post. I can only hope the memories written in text will come out as fulfilling as they have been to live. In the last 6 months, I have become the youngest female automotive dealer in the nation, planned a wedding, and became a wife and step-mother to two beautiful children. For the purposes of this article, I want to share a bit of myself and my personal history that I am ecstatic to bring to Crawfordsville in November. This article may be longer than most, but hopefully you will find it enjoyable!
In the automotive community, Indiana folks usually have some familiarity with my father’s side of the family. The Hubler Automotive Group began in 1972 (see right photo, Franklin Hubler bottom left) when my paternal grandfather, Franklin Hubler, signed for his first Chevrolet dealership. My father entered into the car business shortly after the completion of his master’s degree from Indiana University. He was working on completing his doctorate in Bloomington when he received an unexpected phone call. My father says, “One day my Dad called me and said, our general manager just passed away from a heart attack. I am going to need your help. When can you be here?” And the rest was history. My dad was officially in the car business.
Chris Voltz MotorsOn a family dealer trip to Acapulco, Mexico, my father met a fellow dealer kid who was also from the good ‘ole Hoosier state of Indiana. Her name was Cindy Volz, and she was the daughter of Chris Volz II. Chris Volz Motors (see left photo) in Milan, Indiana was one of the first full-line GM dealers in the country. My great-grandfather, Chris Volz Senior, began his automotive career in the early to mid 1900’s. I know what you are thinking…man, enough with the history already! Here’s where it gets interesting.
On my first date with my (now) husband, we had the typical “getting to know you” chit-chat. We talked about our careers and some of our goals. I was 26 then and I told him that I wanted to own a dealership by the time I was 30. While on the automotive topic I mentioned that most people aren’t familiar with my mother’s side. My automotive ‘bloodlines’ so to speak are actually deeper on my maternal side, as I am of the fourth generation automotive dealer.
“I am sure you don’t know where Milan is, but that is where my mom is from,” I said. Before I could complete my sentence, Jason began telling me all about the story of Bobby Plump and ‘The Milan Miracle.’ Most people are familiar with a movie named Hoosiers that was based on this 1000 person town of Milan, Indiana. This quaint farm community was put on the map when their high school basketball team made their way to the state championship. Above all odds, these tiny but mighty men of Milan miraculously won! They defeated Muncie in the final seconds of the game as Bobby Plump took the final shot and made it!
I continued telling this “Hoosier Hysteria” of a fan, the story as I had been told. “That’s right! My grandpa had all of the players driven to ‘The Big City of Indianapolis’ (see right photo) as they call it, in brand new 1954 Cadillacs,” I said. “I have been told the GM vehicle escort, was kind of thrown out there on a whim by my great-grand father knowing…winning state would likely never happen” [that’s a lot of gas, high risk insurance, and a lot of miles being put on brand new vehicles].
In “The Milan Miracle at 60” written by Mike Lopresti, he interviewed Bobby Plump and teammate Ray Craft in Hinkle Fieldhouse where they played that day. “Craft: I remember there were a thousand people yelling for Muncie, and 14,000 yelling for Milan. They understand what that night came to mean to their lives and appreciate the doors it opened, the state treasure they became, and perhaps the example of achievement it became in Milan. The stat Plump mentions is how 17 members of their senior class and nine of the 10 varsity players went to college.”
Jason proceeded to tell me in a matter of words how much he loved the story and all that it represents. “Growing up in Pittsburgh, I watched the movie Hoosiers and fell in love with Indiana basketball. Since we didn’t have an NBA team, we didn’t have that kind of a following for basketball. Years back, I was on a business trip and was going to be near Milan so I stopped by. I even went to Versailles (the county seat) to see the newspaper article from the day after they won state. I ended up buying a copy of it online, and have it framed at home,” he said. “You know what? Now that I think of it, on the second page there is a full paged advertisement for Chris Volz Motors.”
That was the conversation that changed our semi-business/semi-personal date into a real date. I mean, anyone that is a fan of Milan, is good in my book! Just months later on a date, we ran into the actor that played Jimmy Chitwood in the movie Hoosiers. It was almost like the initial connection of ours, was a reminder of our fate.
Milan Team with CarRecently my dad sent me an article from the Indianapolis Star called “The Milan Miracle,” written by Gregg Doyle. The bottom of the article had five pictures. To my complete surprise, one of them (see right photo) is of all the players sitting on top of a vehicle that reads Chris Volz Motors. I was astonished that of all of the pictures they could use, they used that one!
Just last month, my husband let me know that the Pacer’s would be wearing throwback “Old Hickory” jerseys for 6 home games this season. Now I am not usually a big sports fanatic, but it thrilled me that for once, I was as excited as he was about this unveiling. The throwback jerseys are to recognize Indiana basketball, and the cities in which its history stems. While I figured Milan would be mentioned, I would have never guessed that my city, Crawfordsville, would also be recognized! I had no idea, but Crawfordsville was actually the city that won the first Indiana state championship, and the first Indiana basketball game was played here as well!
With all of these random connections falling closer and closer to home, I decided I must go to some of these games! I was so thrilled to actually have ties to the history of this retro event, that we bought tickets to 10 of the games this season. Jason and I will go to the Crawfordsville night and the Milan night, and we will give the rest of the tickets away. This “tournament style” give-a-way will be to people who stop by and make baskets leading up to each of the games. We will start this in November, with more details to come.
With all of these strange flukes, I still keep finding out more! You see…my Crawfordsville Chevrolet dealership lies off state road 231 on a baseball diamond shaped lot, about 30 minutes south of Lafayette. Just by a complete coincidence, when you drive down the back road behind our lot for about 10 minutes, the town scenes from the movie Hoosiers were filmed right there! The movie also has a large number of residents from Crawfordsville and surrounding communities that played different parts in the movie. With all of these overwhelming ties to one another, I decided I wanted to try for something big.
Always shooting for the starts, I thought to myself…It would be really neat if I could get my grandpa and Bobby Plump to both come in to my dealership and reminisce about that day back in 1954. I decided to give it my best shot. I dial the number that might be able to point me in the right direction, and who answers on the second ring? “This is Bobby Plump how can I help you,” asks the voice on the other end? Where do I start, I thought? Well here goes nothing, and I began to blurt out whatever I could think of.
“Uggghh…Bobby, this is Christi Hubler. I haven’t since you since, well…I’ve been tall enough to see over a bar. But I am…I’m Chris Volz’s granddaughter and I…”
“What? You’re Chris Volz’s granddaughter,” asked Bobby excitedly? “Well my gosh, how is ‘ole Chris doing? It’s been a few years since I have seen him.”
We talked for a while and I explained to him all of these connections that I have to this story, that have grown into what now seems like fate. I told him the story of my 1st date with my (now) husband, and how it was so special due in large part to this Milan love of ours. I mentioned that on this very same date, for the first time I stated out loud my outrageous goal…to become the nation’s youngest female automotive dealer before the age of 30. I told Bobby how my father had taken me to his restaurant, Plump’s Last Shot in Broad Ripple, 15+ years ago. My dad took the women’s basketball team from Center Grove High School (my high school) to dinner after they won state. I told him that I now have a car dealership in Crawfordsville, IN. Of all the places my dealership could be, it is 10 minutes from where the town scenes in the movie were shot, and home of the first Indiana high school state basketball championship. I explained how incredible it was to hear that our NBA team is wearing throwback jerseys, and how I wanted to incorporate an event at the dealership to commemorate this fantastic bit of history.
I went on to ask the ultimate question, while explaining the reason for my call. “So…I guess what I was wondering…Is if maybe…Well, would there be a chance that you might be free on November 21st to come to the dealership and sign autographs?” After I got it all out, I think the 2 second pause about killed me! And then…
“WHY SURE,” said Bobby! “Do you think your grandpa might come too? It would be great to see him as well! You said your dealership is in Crawfordsville, right? My buddy Dick Haslam graduated from Crawfordsville in ’58 and then went on the play for Butler. Neat city! I will be in town on the 21st, so I would love to come. You tell me what time and I will be there.”
On November 21st at approximately 11:00 am, we will be kicking off our tournament style shooting contest for free Pacer tickets. We are honored to have Bobby Plump join us to sign autographs as we reminisce about all of his significant accomplishments for Indiana basketball.
License PlateThe movie Hoosiers represents so many things to so many people. For me, it’s overwhelming. It is the story of where I came from and part of how my parents met. It is a reminder of my husband and I having a mutual love for a tiny town. A tiny town that made a huge impact then and now, by bringing us together. For me as an entrepreneur, it is a constant reminder that the little gestures can go a long way! When it comes to me being a young woman in the car business, it keeps me focused on my ultimate goals…To change the harsh face of the automotive industry, to make a positive difference in the community, and to think outside the box on how to leave a lasting impression. And finally, just like that little team from Milan…to only shoot for the stars! Who knows? You just might make that final shot that changes it all.