ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bob Melloy has seen his share of cars and trucks come and go.
But for the last 50 years, Datsun/Nissan has been a staple of his stable of auto dealerships.
And as such, he was recently honored by the auto manufacturer for his longevity and success.
The 90-year-old Melloy had a simple explanation for his honor. “I just had to stay in business 50 years,” he said.
Of course, there was a lot more to it than that as Melloy survived the Yugo, Studebaker and Renault.
“I took all the dealerships I wanted,” he said.
Datsun/Nissan didn’t exactly fall into that category.
When Melloy got word that Studebaker was in trouble, he found another manufacturer that could fill the void and ended up taking on Datsun/Nissan through a handshake deal. That handshake proved to be the foundation of the family’s series of dealerships that stretch from Albuquerque to Farmington.
Melloy said he owes his success to a work ethic that he developed when he started his own hay-delivery business as a pre-teen in Iowa.
He owned his own Standard Oil service station by his early 20s and had an auto dealership in Dubuque, Iowa.
Poor health, however, forced him to move west which he found intriguing and somewhat beguiling.
“I never heard of Albuquerque,” he said. “I was heading to Phoenix or Tucson. But the neon lights on Central Avenue were so beautiful I decided to stay for a while.”
Even before making a decision to live here permanently, Melloy bought a house and has lived in the same neighborhood not far from San Mateo and I-40 ever since.
While the business has had its ups and downs, Melloy credited his late wife, Celeste Melloy, with maintaining him and the couple’s children – all but one of whom also went into the auto industry.
And Michael Melloy, the youngest of the children, who decided to become a veterinarian, said he learned his work ethic and his attitude from his father.
“I remember none of us ever got new cars,” he said. “My first car was a 1975 station wagon. It had no transmission and the guard dogs were living in it out back. And I was ecstatic to get it.”
That, more than anything, sums it up, Michael Melloy said.