Long's Auto Place has been a fixture along Rice Street for nearly three decades and has been a family affair for the entire time. Long's father, Thomas, started the business with Long and his uncle, Richard, who owned and operated the only Cadillac dealership in the city of St. Paul for 23 years. The trio started the business from an old abandoned Clark gas station. James took over the business in 1986, and his brother Joseph joined him in 2005. Richard left the business in 1985, his influence is still felt today. Long explains that even all these years later, Cadillacs are a popular choice for customers.
"Ever since we opened up, people come here for Cadillacs," he says. And Long's Auto Place is still a family affair. Besides Long's brother, Joseph, Long's wife, Connie, and their kids have all worked at the company at some time or another.
Investing in the neighborhood
Long's philosophy of reinvesting in his neighborhood means that he does as much business as possible with local vendors. Tires, printing work, fuel and auto parts; they're all likely to come from a neighborhood business.
"We're reinvesting in the community because we plan on staying," Long says. "It's been very good to us for over 20 years and we want to stay for anther 20." Reinvestment also led to Long building a new, larger facility in 2001. The new place had a bigger garage, showroom and service center. To run the center, Long hired a technician he had worked with for years; someone Long knew he could trust.
"Everybody is looking for a good technician," Long says. In his free time, Long stays busy with community work. He's spent a year as a member of the St. Paul Winter Carnival royalty, two years as president and two as vice president for the North End Business Association, and was on the board of directors for the North End Area Revitalization program in the mid 1990s. He's also a member of the Better Business Bureau, the Midway Chamber of Commerce, the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and has sponsored queen candidates for the Rice Street Festival and Winter Carnival.
An auto for everyone
Long's Auto Place has long been about used luxury vehicles (although there are plenty of other types of cars and trucks for the choosing). No matter what the customers are looking for, they can always find two things at Long Auto Place. "A very good quality auto for their needs, and a facility to maintain them," Long says.