2022 Marks the 75th Anniversary of Willis Automotive (1997 – 2022)
In 1997 Rich Willis became Dealer Principal, with controlling interest in the business from 1997 to 2000 when he became the owner of Betts Cadilac – Lexus. In June of 2002, we were awarded the HUMMER franchise, Jaguar in November, and Volvo in December, and we began construction of our 9800 Hickman Road facility. We changed our name to Betts Auto Campus and acquired Land Rover in August 2007.
To reflect the new ownership, we updated our name from Betts Auto Campus to Willis Auto Campus on April 1, 2008. In addition, we added INFINITI in July of 2008. GM decided to terminate the HUMMER line in 2010, and we officially added MINI of Des Moines with the addition of the former Saturn dealership at the corner of 100th Street and Hickman Road.
In 2013, Jason and Matt Willis became members of the Executive Leadership Team after several years of service in other positions at the dealership. In the fall of 2018, Willis Auto Campus updated the company name to Willis Aoutmoive to better reflect the company’s growth.
In 2019, Willis Automotive’s pre-owned operation expanded to a new location in Waukee, Iowa. In 2020, Willis Automotive purchased Beneventi Chevrolet in Granger, Iowa, from Don Beneventi, and
renamed it Willis Chevrolet of Granger.
In 2021, Willis Automotive looked to continue the success of the Waukee Pre-Owned location with the addition of Willis Pre-Owned Ankeny.
In 2022, Willis Automotive purchased Hummel’s Nissan, Iowa’s number one Nissan Dealership.
In reflecting on his 50 years at the dealership, Rich is proud of how he has grown the dealership, not just in brands but also in the Pre-Owned department. “Pre-Owned vehicles were not a big focus at the time, but I saw the drive my father had for it and brought that to Betts Cadillac,” where he expanded our pre-owned department to the important part of our business it is today.
Asking Rich what his favorite car or brand is, is like asking him who his favorite son is. Regarding our inventory, “I am still a kid in a candy store,” Rich said. “I know I am blessed to be able to try a different vehicle based on what I am doing.”
The future continues to look bright as the traditions established by the Betts and Willis families evolve and expand. Rich also looks forward to the future of Willis Automotive with his son Jason as Chief Executive Officer and Matt as Chief Visionary Officer. Jason and Matt have 21 and 18 years, respectively, and started in the dealership the same way Rich did. They were filing paperwork, working in the service call center, and cleaning cars working their way through various departments as they learned every aspect of the business. Each has brought many new ideas to Willis Automotive and continues to help it grow. Jason works hard to find the right brands to become a part of Willis and how we can continue to improve our customer experience. Matt is following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps and expanding the Pre-Owned department in a new way by starting Willis Buys Cars and growing that into its own business.