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Honda Bikes Brought Motorcycle
Dealer to Cars

Words and Photos: John Gunnell

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Le Mieux & Sons Toyota is a major new-car dealer in Green Bay, Wis., today. But like many businessmen, Bob Le Mieux, Sr., built up his operation from humble beginnings and achieved success through a combination of smart thinking, hard work and a little luck. The car and motorcycle collection in the showroom of Le Mieux & Sons Toyota reflects how the company grew.

Rather than cars, Le Mieux started out with motorcycles, selling brands such as BSA at first. Then, he decided to take on a new line of bikes made by Honda in Japan. This was a bold move at the time, since World War II was fresh in the minds of many people. It was an era when “Made in the USA” labels were commonplace and when most Americans thought of Japanese products as cheap and tinny toys. Honda was far from a household name at that time.

Despite such views, Bob Le Mieux, Sr. realized that Honda built quality machines. As their reputation grew, he found himself selling more and more of them. In fact, he did so well selling Honda motorcycles in Green bay that he won an all-expenses-paid trip to the land of the Rising Sun. It was during his vacation in Japan that he noticed people driving Toyota cars.

When he returned to Green Bay, Bob sat down and wrote a letter to Toyota telling the company that he was interested in selling Toyota cars alongside the Honda bikes. The first reply he got wasn’t encouraging. Honda told him that it had no distributor in the Midwest, which meant that there was no local source of Toyota cars. Bob was told he’s be contacted if things changed. About a year later, Bob received a letter saying Toyota had set up a Midwest distributor. The rest is history.

Today Bob’s collection of cars, airplanes and motorcycles is stored at one side of the Le Mieux & Sons Toyota showroom, near his ‘50s-style diner. There are cars on a lower level and a second level and all the bikes share the second level. Naturally, most of the vintage bikes are early Honda models and a few even have vintage Le Mieux & Sons dealer stickers on them.

 

 

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