Dorman McShan was 29 years old when he launched Precision Imports.
“I didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “I still don’t. I've gone through phases of my life where I actually thought I knew something. And then I’m always amazed at how much I don’t think that’s relatable.”
He embarked on fulfilling his dream by seeking permission from Durango City Council to build the business, and then he borrowed “everything” to make it happen, he said.
The dealership at 1025 Camino del Rio, across from Town Plaza, has transformed throughout its 49 years – 48 of them being open for sales. It doubled in size along the way.
The dealership started “backwards,” McShan said.
Air-cooled Volkswagens dominated the lot at the dealership’s start, back when it was launched as a service provider.
Most dealerships start by selling, and then adding service departments, he said. But not this one.
When the Volkswagen Rabbit was released, the dealership began to service water-cooled engines, and then, eventually, all Japanese and European cars.
It began to sell used cars, and then down the road new ones, too.
It’s now reversed, McShan said. The dealership’s focus is on selling, as it doesn’t have a full-blown service department anymore.
His reason for stepping down?
“Because I’m 78,” he said. “It seems like this was a good time.”
The shift in ownership will afford him more time to travel and volunteer.
He’s dreaming of sailing the coast of Mexico. And, going back to his dealership’s roots, he hopes to recruit his wife for a road trip (or a few) in his Volkswagen camper van.
He won’t completely let go of the car business, though.
He’ll be around working part time, and he’s already preparing to help at a car show Tuesday.
Donald and Samantha Schoonover are taking the reins, and they want to “keep the legacy going” and “beat out the competition,” they said.
Everything will remain the same, right down to the sign out front that declares the business established in 1973.
“It’s a little bit scary to have done this all my life and all of a sudden it’s not mine anymore,” McShan said. “Got a couple of people here who can carry it forward and do a better job than I ever did.”
Originally from Roswell, New Mexico, McShan spent his formative years in Indianapolis.
“I’m not an alien,” he joked.
But, he was drawn back to the West, and moved to Albuquerque in his 20s.
There, he met his wife, Dorothy. Dororthy’s not passionate about cars like her husband, but she’s continuously supported his dealership, which opened July 7, 1973.
As members of the Sitzmarkers Ski Club, they fell in love with Durango.
“I couldn’t figure out how to come here and make a living,” he said. “I said if I’m going to have my own business I should have it where I want to live.”
He stuck with what he knew, using skills he acquired from General Electric Engine Aircraft Group in Albuquerque and working as a service and parts manager for a Volkswagen dealership in Indianapolis.
“They say if you want to become a millionaire, just come to Durango with $2 million,” he said.
Nevertheless, McShan thanked the city for its support of his business, and is happy about the life he created here.
“I want to thank all my customers for all the years – I’ve got a lot of really good loyal customers,” he said. “I want them to continue to go to Precision.”