Monken Balloon Fest Memories

Guest Blogger – Jan Monken

Monken Automotive and the Monken family  have been involved with the Centralia Balloon Fest since its inception over 25 years ago.

The Balloon Fest, held every year in August, has become a huge event since the first one that was held at Kaskaskia College.  Balloon Fest later moved to Foundation Park, east of Centralia, where it is still held today.  The Balloon Fest offers entertainment for all ages with the balloon glow and balloon races as the biggest events. Originally, the balloons only glowed Saturday evening, but now following the Friday night balloon race, the pilots will come back into the park and glow around the pond.

We have always sponsored a balloon, and as sponsors for the Balloon Fest, we get the opportunity to crew at each event.  Crewing a balloon can be hard work.  We recruit family, friends and employees to be our crew members/chase team.  Our crew members help set up the balloon for the race, chase the ballon, and help with the landing and packing it up.  Glowing is also hard work as the crew members hold on to ropes to help keep the balloon from going  up into the air.

Our first grandchildren to crew were Megan and Andrea, Kim( Monken) McMillan’s girls. I remember the first time they were old enough to fly with our pilot. The girls had so much fun the first time they rode in a hot air balloon, we could see their happy faces as they flew up over the fields and trees.

Then our grandchildren,  Katie Hartmann, Jalyn and Addison Monken became part of the Monken Chase Team.  They loved to get up at 5:00am to meet at the Bell Tower Inn for the pilot meeting. This is when the pilots are informed if the balloons will fly and where they will depart. The girls have all had the opportunity to fly up in a hot air balloon and loved every minute. This year, Megan and her family will be crewing. We are now starting the next generation to crew and fly!

In the past, Monken’s have also sponsored the pilot dinner.  One year Monken Automotive hosted the Friday evening dinner for all pilots, crew members, and sponsors.  Wearing his cowboy hat, Harold Monken, directed traffic on his horse. Some of the pilots remember that event well.

I also remember on one of the windiest evening while we were trying to hold onto the balloon during Balloon Glow, a large gust of wind came up.  We yelled for help and here came the “cowboy,” Harold, to help.  Well, Harold always thought ballooning was a piece of cake, but he found out real quick that it wasn’t as he was flipped on his back side real quick!
We have had the pleasure of having the balloonist, Bob Boswell, for many years. Bob was a paratrooper before he began ballooning. He has quit coming to our event, but he still has a balloon repair shop. Our next pilot Ken was a Fed Ex pilot, and flew balloons as a hobby.
For the past 4 years our pilot has been Jared Miller. Jared is a nurse anesthetist. We enjoy meeting and getting to know our pilots and their families.

Thanks to everyone that puts this event on every year. Happy ballooning to everyone!

The History of Monken Automotive

 

In the 1960’s

In the 60’s, W. Harold Monken was a partner with David Woolbright at the Standard Gas Station in Centralia. Harold was always the hot rodder spending much time improving his vehicles and racing them at night and weekends. His brother, Wayne Monken, and father, Walter Monken, helped build a small garage/dealership that opened as Car City on November 4th, 1967 on Shattuc Road west of Centralia.

In the 1970’s

In 1971, a Japanese gentleman from Datsun was canvassing the area to find a dealer partner to represent what is today known as Nissan. Harold was interested and the business later became Car City Nissan. The 70’s were a great time to own a dealership that offered inexpensive vehicles with great gas mileage. They sold the shiny Datsun vehicles as fast as they could get them.

In the 1980’s

In the 80’s, Harold recognized a dealership trend to become bigger in order to survive. He explored adding Chrysler when Booth Motors closed. In 1987, he flew to Chicago with his attorney, Bill Crain, to close the deal with Chrysler, but had a last minute change of heart. He ultimately sold Car City Nissan to his General Manager Mike Gansauer and Mike’s father in law, Bob Cleary. In 1988, Mike & Bob purchased Meier Chevrolet and moved from Shattuc road. The business was now Car City Chevrolet Nissan. Several prominent business partners, including the Geary Family and the Cooksey Family were investors.

In the 1990’s

In the early 90’s, Harold opened Car Country for a few years, and then worked for Jansen Chevrolet in Germantown. In 1996, Bruce Geary told Harold that they were ready to exit the auto business. Harold returned to Car City and asked Mike Jansen to be a business partner with him in order to purchase the dealership.

However, GM already had three dealerships in Centralia. They were Dobbs/Mahan Buick GMC, Car City Chevrolet and Seeburger Oldsmobile Cadillac. GM was strategically cutting dealers with a plan called Project 2000. GM only wanted two dealers in the Centralia market and wouldn’t approve the sale of Chevrolet. It took months to negotiate. Ultimately Chevrolet was sold to Seeburger, and Car City became Monken/Jansen Chrysler Plymouth Dodge Nissan on May 1,1997. Harold’s son, Wes Monken, joined a month later in June 1997 relocating from the Chicago area. Harold and Wes purchased out Mike Jansen in 1998 and dropped the name Jansen to become Monken Dodge Chrysler Plymouth Nissan. Later that year, Monken’s purchased the Jeep franchise from Dobbs/Mahan in Centralia.

2005 – Now

In 2005, discussions began about the Monken’s acquiring Dobbs/Mahan Buick GMC. The plan was to have Harold’s daughter, Kim Monken McMillan, run the dealership. In February of 2005, Harold was rushed to the emergency room. Our long term attorney, Marvin Miller, met us at the hospital to sign a Power of Attorney over to the family. This is how Kim learned that she was coming to work for the family! The purchase of Dobbs/Mahan Buick GMC was finalized in June of 2005. Harold had a significant leak on his mitral valve caused by an infection. He battled through three valve transplants, a stroke and ultimately passed away on July 22, 2006. With great patience and hard work, Wes and Kim found a way to make both stores thrive. In May 2014 Monken Buick GMC purchased Schmidt Chevrolet and relocated to their building across from Walmart to become Monken Chevrolet Buick GMC.

Why Our Salesman, Ryan, Loves a Minivan

Blog by Ryan Williams

My wife and I have purchased three consecutive Chrysler minivans. Recently we traded in our 2010 for a new 2015.  The three main reasons we continue to purchase a Chrysler minivan are:

  1. Affordable – We have a pretty good size family and this van is a very affordable 7 passenger vehicle.
  2. Beyond the affordability, it is a great cruising vehicle for trips and day-to-day commutes. My wife drive many miles out of town with her job and we have never experienced any major mechanical issues.
  3. My favorite things about the Chrysler van are the Stow & Go seats, heated seats and steering wheel, and the DVD entertainment for the kids. The Chrysler minivan has so many options. They have as many options as most luxury cars, but the functionality and utility of a full size SUV.

If you have ever debated about buying a minivan, I can tell you, it makes our life easier.

5 Websites to Research Before Purchasing a Vehicle

 

1. Kelley Blue Book – KBB is the standard when asking “What is my vehicle worth?”  I find their values to be pretty close when the vehicles are graded fairly with the description KBB provides. For example an ” Excellent Condition” vehicle can’t even have a paint touch up,  less than 3% of vehicles qualify.

2. Manufacturer websites such as General Motors , ChryslerNissan Chevrolet  (you can stop at those as they make the greatest vehicles in the world, wink wink)

3. Edmunds.com – Edmunds.com is the place to go when you’re shopping for a car and you want to buy smarter. You can discover and research fair market pricing for vehicles.

 
4.  Dealership website. I typically upgrade our  Monkenauto/Monken1.com  frequently and make a significant investment every two years. My goal is to have as much information as possible to keep you on our website.  I am always looking to improve the Monken website, so please share your wish list with me. We spend a lot of time on descriptions and photos to help you with the details of our Monken vehicles.  Our goal is transparency. The market has been headed in this direction for years.

 
5.  Fueleconomy.gov  One of the most common questions we get is, “What can I expect for fuel economy?” You can compare any year, make and model at fueleconomy.gov.

Why We Help the Relay for Life

Blog by Kim McMillan

I was asked to be involved with the very first Marion County Relay for Life event and continued to served as a team recruitment chair for several years.  My mother, Jan Monken, and I served as co-chairs for the event for 3 years.
Our family (like everyone) has been hit hard by cancer. The hardest was the loss of my cousin, Troy Crocker, who died in 1999 at the age of 29, leaving behind two small children. That is when the Monken family vowed to fight hard to help eradicate cancer.

The Marion County Relay for Life will be on Friday, June 17, 2016 at Fairview Park in Centralia.   We will have our annual  Monken Mega Nacho booth at the event from 4:00-10:00pm.  At this time, we have 16 members on Team Monken.

The Monken Family and Monken Dealerships support the Marion County Relay for Life 100%.

We hope to see you there!

relay for life 2

 

What is Chrysler Wii Advisor?

 

Blog by Wes Monken and Guest Blogger Amy Brandt(Service Manager)

Our Monken Chrysler store is proud to share our newest technology with you!

If you see our service department greeting you with an iPad, we aren’t playing Candy Crush.  We have signed up for an optional Chrysler product called Wii Advisor. Chrysler has invested millions in this state of the art technology. Monkens saw the benefit for our customers and decided to sign up.

If you are able to arrive 10 minutes early for your service appointment, it might take us a few minutes more to check you in, and at the same time the Wii Advisor helps us be more thorough. Once we have greeted you, we will ask for your permission to connect a pod to your vehicle.

We will gather all your information such as your name, phone number, street address and email address, as well as, all the information pertaining to your vehicle concerns.

The pod communicates with our computer system and together they verify open recalls, manufacturer recommended services, warranty, information and  previous worked preformed.  The Wii Advisor will also allow us to determine if there are any additional maintenance concerns for your vehicle. We will also walk around the vehicle with you to give us a visual of any signs of vehicle damage.

We are extremely happy with the Wii Advisor and how technology advances our service department.   We are excited that we have partnered with Chrysler to bring our service to the next level for our customers.

 

4 Teenager Insurance Tips

Since our oldest just turn 16, we have been reading articles about teenager insurance.  Here is a blog we thought we should share from insurancequoteauto.info.

Car insurance for teens is expensive because teen drivers represent a huge risk for car insurance companies. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. drivers ages 16 to 19, and drivers in that age group are nearly three times as likely as those ages 20 or older to be in a fatal crash, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute.

Tips:

  1. Get good grades. Good student discounts can range from 10% to 25%, depending on the insurance company and state.
  2. Take a professional training course. Insurers may offer discounts of up to 10% for drivers under 21 who complete an approved driving education course.
  3. Leave the car at home. Many insurers offer teen drivers a discount if they’re attending school at least 100 miles away from home and leave their car behind.
  4. Sign a driving contract. Some companies provide discounts or benefits for teens who sign a driving contract in which they promise to always wear a seatbelt, never text or eat while driving, call for a ride if impaired, pay any traffic or parking tickets, maintain good grades and contribute to the cost of car maintenance, gas and insurance. Discounts vary by state and insurance company.

It’s really important for teen drivers to compare prices from different insurance companies and look for discounts. For example, the following companies provide these discounts:

Nationwide:

Up to 15% discount for drivers ages 16 to 24 with a B average or better
Under the company’s Family Plan, relatives living in the same household can all share discounts

American Family insurance:

Good student discount available; percentages vary
Discount for drivers younger than 24 who attend school more than 100 miles away from home and leave their vehicles behind

State Farm:

Up to 25% discount for good students
Up to 15% discount for teen drivers who go at least three years with no tickets or at-fault accidents and complete an approved safety course

Geico:

Up to 15% discount for good students
Additional discounts available for car safety features
Teen drivers can also buy their own insurance policies, rather than being covered under their families’ plans. Teens can save by getting auto coverage on their parents’ policy. It costs teens and their families $3,053 less per year, on average, to be covered under a single car insurance policy than it does for teens to buy their own coverage.

 

The All-New 2017 Chrysler Minivan

 

Unknown-2.jpeg

The new 2017 Chrysler Minivan will arrive this May. The new name will be the Chrysler Pacifica. The Pacifica will replace the Town & Country and eventually, the Dodge Grand Caravan. The Grand Caravan will be made through 2016 and possibly into the 2017 model as a valued vehicle. This is similar to what Chrysler did with the Avenger when they released the all new 200, they continued making the 200 and the Avenger the valued vehicle.

Here is a link to a video that shows some of the new features. The ability to put your foot under the tailgate and sliding doors to open is a great feature.

All-New 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If You Own A Nissan – Read This

Blog by Ryan Williams

Do you have a smart phone?  Almost everyone has a smart phone right!  How many apps do you have on your phone?  There are apps for everything these days that are helpful, and plenty that aren’t helpful.  Nissan has introduced an app to make it easier to learn all the features of your new Nissan.  The Nissan Quick Guide App has everything that your owners manual offers you, but it has every vehicle Nissan makes in one easy app.  Sounds impressive right?  Now lets up it a little more, the app also has information on model years back to 2012.  Impressed?  Maybe that isn’t very impressive, but it is even better because in each option you choose throughout the lineup the app has a video tutorial.  Video tutorials on nearly every aspect of your Nissan.  Did you forget how to program your Homelink garage door opener?  Reference your vehicle and touch Homelink on the options page and you have a video that shows you how to operate the Homelink opener.  Better yet this app is free at the Google app store or the iphone app store.  Don’t waste time flipping through pages or searching endless videos to find your model year.  Get the Nissan Quick Guide App and you will have all the information in the palm of your hand.

screen322x572

Why Service Your Vehicle at a Dealership

While vehicles are more reliable than ever, they still do require maintenance and do break down. Why service with the dealer you purchased your vehicle? Auto manufacturers often offer either hidden warranties or offer some type of goodwill. These are generally reserved for loyal customers. When a dealership is evaluating an out of warranty claim for goodwill, they typically have to go to the manufacturer and answer several questions to justify the goodwill expenditure:

How long has the customer owned the vehicle?
Does the customer service the vehicle at your dealership regularly?
Do they perform recommended maintenances?
Are they loyal to the dealership and/or the manufacturer?
Have they owned other “brand X” vehicles?

Manufacturers and dealerships will go above and beyond for loyal customers.  These goodwill dollars are finite and tracked by the manufacturers to be reserved for the most loyal customers. In our experience, customer loyalty is most often rewarded by the manufacturer. Dealerships have finite dollars and will work hard for those that are regular customers.

Another reason you may want your vehicle serviced at a dealership is because dealerships have certified technicians with yearly training that update them on the new makes and models of each brand the dealership carries on the lot.

At our Monken Chrysler Nissan location we have 4 Certified Trained Technicians and 3 Master Technicians.  At our Monken Chevrolet Buick GMC location we have 2 Certified Trained Technicians and 2 Master Technicians. A trained technician must have all certification that meet factory guidelines before they are able to work on our vehicles.      A Master Technician has completed all levels of the training and are top notch.