These days the New Hampton, New York, dealership has 100 employees and remains family owned and operated by Steve and John Jardine. Among the showroom’s 50 display vehicles is one of the first 1972 Coronas sold, and John Jardine’s prized 1985 Celica convertible that he likes to drive in parades.
John Jardine’s first experience at the dealership was in 1968 as a car cleaner. By trade he was a chief chemical operator at a local plant, but during a two-week shutdown he took a side job at the dealership helping remove Cosmoline. The clear, tar-like substance coated the vehicles to protect them from exposure to salt during their 45-day ship transport from Japan.
Johnstons Toyota got its start in Maybrook, New York, in a converted Texaco gas station in 1960.
“Then they needed someone in sales, so I took the gamble and here I am,” says John, who was promoted to general manager in 1981.
The Johnstons didn’t have any children and, after so many years of working together, George “Sonny” Johnston gave John a chance to invest and later sold it outright to him in 1994.
“We didn’t want to change the name because it was well known and everybody recognized us for who we are and what we do,” John says.
John’s son, Steve, began working at the dealership in 1983 as a greeter, and worked his way through the ranks to general manager.
“I sold a car each day for the first 14 days and I knew I wanted to do that for a living,” Steve says. “The community here has grown over the years, but we know our market really well and how they want to do a transaction. We are straight up and transparent. We’re also really involved in the community and believe in giving back.”
Over the last 60 years, the dealership has grown up with the Toyota brand.
“Toyota started out just like we did,” John says. “Toyota did everything they had to do to make it work. They changed on the run and started expanding with the regions and dealer levels. They’ve paid attention to what works and they’ve done it right.”
Adds Steve: “Toyota is the greatest company. They’re always moving forward, innovating and always trying to be better. We look forward to the next 60 years.”