My name is Rich Larson, and along with my beautiful wife, Laura, we own Law Motors.
My career in the car business started due to a tragedy that haunts me still today. In 1985, my father, Ray Larson, was a farmer. Like many family farms, we became a victim of the times. We had our farm sale in April and the future was unknown.
I never thought I would either want to nor do anything different but milk cows. No longer faced with my dreams and needing a new career, along with being scared, I went out into the world.
I had an offer to play Jr. College football and at the college they offered a radio TV broadcasting course. Having no money during summer break, I was hired part-time at K101 in Luverne. Just before my 2nd season of fall practice, I was offered a full-time position at the station. I decided work experience was better than taking my beat-up knees back to football. I miss playing football even today. Two months later they fired me and I thought my life was over. I recall telling this to Dad and that was the last time he yelled at me. Dad reminded me how lucky I was and to 'man up'.
I applied for and became a nightclub disc jockey at a new bar at the time; Opies Nightclub. It was a fun job. As my first wife didn't like my working the bar, I went back to my college business 'Jimmy's Fish & Seafood'. Scott Guttormson was in radio school and become my best friend. They gave me an opportunity to sell fish and seafood. James Guttormson taught me how to sell a product. I owe that family for the direction of my career. I never feared making a sales call again. Thanks Jimmy!
Next was an adventure back in Sioux Falls working for Jim Burma Sr. at Carlson Distributing. This is all I have to say; I learned that successful people don't work an 8-hour day. Jim Burma Sr. was my business mentor and extremely close friend. Rest in peace Jim. I miss you deeply!
Oh yeah - the car business! My father was working the car business before and since the day the farm went away. One day, Brad Carley from Billion Motors offered me a job selling cars. I asked Dad what he thought. He gave me the best and only advice that I hold deeply in my heart; "Rich be nice to people and they will buy from you." I took the advice and with a lot of help, became the top used-car salesman not only at my store, but at all the Billion stores. I found a lifelong career.
After being promoted to new car sales manager at the Billion Chrysler & Nissan store and being awarded a "National Growth Award" for new Nissan sales, I was presented a bonus check. That bonus check ended up paying less than what I was making selling used cars. Young and cocky, I marched into Dave Billion's office. I said 'pay me the difference and I will stay. Otherwise I am buying my own car lot!' Dave Billion Sr. stood up, shook my hand and said good luck! I thank Billion Motors for many things, but I wanted to treat my customers with more personal service.
I started Wall Street Motor Company in 1995 with a partner. This business was successful but the partnership wasn't. My customers were in Sioux Falls and after a divorce, I decided to sell my half and move on . I was out of work and Billions offered to hire me back. A friend said 'let's drive around and see if we can start our own car lot." I declined Billion's offer and started Larson & Wagner Auto Brokerage in 1997.
I hated that name! We had a $100,000 line of credit and in the car business that's not enough. We had no money for a sign outside our business. I remember looking out my door and saying 'this is never going to work'. I was depressed.
At a car auction I saw a 1992 Ford Taurus. A light bulb went off! Since the bank would let me buy that car, I could letter it up and make it back into a police car, and shorten our name to L.A.W. Motors. The company was born.
TV commercials made us semi-famous. My education at Austin Community College gave me the knowledge I needed to succeed at the campaign. Oh yeah, and my big mouth! One year after opening, we doubled in size and I bought my partner out in 1999. We grew!!
Another Tragedy; On June 10th of the year 2000 God gave me my greatest gift of my life; my wife Laura and my son Tyler. This completed me. What's the tragedy? September 11th, 2001.
My wife had a career as a successful computer programmer at EROS Data Center. She was working on the "Dorran Project" and EROS went to a worldwide security alert. Everyone that was a subcontractor for the government was escorted out of EROS Data Center. This included Laura. We lost a $60,000 yearly salary and health insurance.
It was a scary time. Laura is an Oracle programmer and only the world's largest companies used this system. Laura's employment opportunities were limited. I had just bought our building on 7th and Kiwanis and I asked Laura to join me and believe in the dream of owning a family business.
Working with your spouse has its' ups and downs. We made it work perfectly and enjoy working our company together. In 2004, we invited our son Tyler into the family business. He has helped our family and company grow with the power of the Internet.
2010 was a very big year for our company. We had the luck and opportunity to purchase our second location, and in 2011 we opened Law Motors Select. This prime Sioux Falls location expand our selection and market reach.
In 2014, we sold our 41st Street location and consolidated our entire staff and inventory to one location. By doing this, we were able to provide a better customer experience and a higher quality product for a better value. Owning the second lot was successful; it allowed us to draw in new and repeat customers.
By selling nearly ten-thousand cars in total we continue to grow each year. I have enjoyed writing the history about me and Law Motors. It has brought happiness, sadness, and pride to me.
Thank you, Customers - without you none of this would be possible.