Brigham City's Hansen upbeat
about future of auto industry
By Alison Baugh
May 8, 2008 | BRIGHAM CITY -- Filling a car up at
the gas station may hit people’s pocketbooks, but for
Byron Hansen it is affecting his whole life. Hansen
is the owner of a car dealership and has to worry about
gas prices hurting his business.
"I get as frustrated as anyone when I see the gas
bill," Hansen said.
He has to worry about the economy and what adaptations
will come to help cope with the continued increase in
oil prices. The success or failure of the business doesn't
just affect Hansen and his family, Hansen said. The
other 35 employees and their families also depend on
the business. Yet Hansen is rarely seen without a smile
on his face and is always willing to talk to about the
"I'm very optimistic about the future in the auto
industry," Hansen said.
Hansen's love for people carries through all he does.
He began working at the family car dealership in Idaho
when he was about 5 years old, sweeping, taking out
garbage and washing windows. In 1961, the family moved
their business to Brigham City. This is the business
Hansen continues to run today. He enjoys working in
a small town because he gets to know more people and
work with them. "You get to a take a more active role
in your community," Hansen said.
He has been involved with the Rotary Club, the Kiwanis
Club, worked with the city council, the Airport Board
and served as president of the Utah Automobile Association.
Besides being a father, grandfather and owner of a
car dealership, Hansen is also the second counselor
in the stake presidency of his stake. Hansen has been
a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints his entire life and served a two-and-a-half year
mission in Paris, France. Hansen said besides work and
snowmobiling most of his free time is spent fulfilling
his church calling. "It becomes a juggling act," Hansen
said. "You do what you have to do, I guess you get used
As a stake presidency, the three men watch over about
3,000 members. Hansen is able to work with the youth
in preparing camps and youth conferences. He will often
tell stories about his life and give some suggestions,
but allows the youth planning the outings to make the
final decision and solve the problems.
A turning point came for Hansen while he was on his
mission. He said he learned how to work and how to solve
problems on his own. He made lifelong friends with his
companions and continues those friendships with Mitt
Romney and Tom Rosenburg, Tiger Woods’ doctor. Who gets
to have friendship with a presidential candidate and
Tiger's doctor? Hansen asked.
"We stumble into opportunities and we have to be wise
enough to act on them,” Hansen said.
After his mission, Hansen attended the University
of Utah, studying mechanical engineering.
"I had a childhood love...I was going to get into
aerospace and build moon rockets," Hansen said.
While in his last year, the school approached him
to interview for an intern position in Washington, D.C.
They just needed one more guy in order to get the interviewer
to come, Hansen said with a laugh. It was this "one
more guy" they picked and Hansen went to D.C. working
with the government on experiments with nuclear power.
After a year of this, the government paid for Hansen
to get his master's degree at any college. Hansen said
he applied to many, but went to Stanford, getting his
master's in mechanical engineering.
"Probably the only reason I got into there was the
government influence," Hansen whispered in a side note.
Hansen succeed in school and after graduation, moved
his family to Sunnyville, Calif. to work for General
Electric. After some time the company wanted him to
move to the east coast. It was at this time that Hansen
and his wife decided they wanted to raise their family
in northern Utah and moved back to Brigham City. Hansen
said this has ended up being a good decision.
Aerospace still held an interest to Hansen, yet he
returned to the family business. His two brothers had
dealerships in Idaho and Price, Utah. In 1982, Hansen
bought the Brigham City dealership from his father.
He is passing the interest in automobiles onto his three
sons who work for him. Most auto dealerships really
become a family business that is passed on, Hansen said.
He plans on his sons taking over as he "fades out."
The whole auto dealership industry is like a fraternity,
"If I was to break down anywhere in Utah I could call
a dealer and they would bring me in and probably give
me keys to a car to borrow for a few days. It's a strong
bond," Hansen said.
Owning his own business has had drawbacks, Hansen
said. He doesn't ever remember sitting and eating dinner
with his family except on Sundays. Microwaves were the
greatest invention, Hansen said. He would come home
and eat after his family and help with homework or other
activities. As he sees his eight, -?soon to be nine?grandchildren
playing and doing things, he says, 'Our kids never did
that.' He said his wife responds, they did, you just
weren't around to see it. Hansen said if he could go
back, he would spend more time with his family, but
doesn't dwell on the past that can't be changed. His
wife, Linda said she tries to help him balance everything
by taking care of the little things and letting him
fulfill his responsibilities.
“I try to run interference…taking care of the dumb
little things myself without bothering him,” Linda said.
The family business does have benefits, such as being
able to work with his children every day and having
a job for them when they were younger. There was also
more freedom to go on vacations, which the Hansen family
has taken advantage of. Hansen said he and his wife
would take a trip or two alone each year and in the
summer they would have a big family outing to Canada,
Nauvoo or some other vacation spot. This "made up" for
the not being home every night, Hansen said.
Traveling is something Hansen said he and his wife
both love. The business does a lot of advertising and
the stations then give them media trips. They also own
a timeshare in Hawaii and have been able to travel all
over -China, Thailand, Europe and Africa. Both said
their favorite trip was to Africa because the culture
is so different. Hansen said he loves meeting all kinds
of people and has seen so many "good" people everywhere
he has traveled.
"You see a lot of good people. Some who believe the
same as you do, most who don't, but they are all good
people," Hansen said. "You learn everyone has the same
needs and wants as we do." When not traveling far, Hansen
uses his own plane for traveling and pleasure rides.
He said he got his license in 1975 and continues to
fly today. He used to use it in the business to go pick
up cars, but now uses it for pleasure, mainly with his
daughter because his sons get sick and his wife doesn't
like the noise.
"We fly to Yellowstone for the day or we fly out to
Jackpot (Nev.) and get a hamburger," Hansen said.
The technology changes Hansen has seen in his life
that allow him to fly his own plane or send an email
anywhere in the world "astound" him. He has always been
into Mac and Apple computers and I-pods. He estimates
he has 15 computers dating clear back. Each year Hansen
goes to California and attends the Mac World Conference
to see what new technology is coming out. He said he
remembers when he had one of the first Ipods which would
hold 1,000 songs and fit in his pocket. He was amazed
that he could have 1,000 songs, carried in his pocket.
Now there are ones a lot smaller that can hold thousands
of songs, movies and books, Hansen said.
"The (technology increase the) last 25 years boggles
my mind," Hansen said.
Hansen said he enjoys being in an industry that is
also seeing many technological advances. Within the
next few years, half of the cars on the street will
by hybrids, Hansen said. He said he is looking forward
to continuing to watch the technology change and advance