By Bill Sniffin, publisher
Charles F. “Chuck” Guschewsky, 64, one of Wyoming’s most forward-thinking business leaders died at his home Saturday morning.
He was a friend and this is tough to write.
With his wife Cathy, Chuck built Fremont Motors into Wyoming’s most wide-ranging car dealer network. His business expertise and leadership were amazing.
Cause of death has not yet been determined although he and his wife planned to go for a walk Saturday morning when he suddenly felt ill, laid down, and became unconscious. The family believes it was cardiac arrest.
Funeral services are pending. He is survived by his wife of 42 years Cathy, two daughters, three grandchildren, two brothers and his mother Alice.
Among his many legacies, Chuck was founder of the Lander Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors and he was the youngest president of the One Shot Antelope Club. He was on the board of Wyoming Catholic College at the time of his death.
His daughter Arin Emmert is director of operations and will become CEO of Fremont Motors, according to Cathy Guschewsky.
Chuck was the President and CEO of the Fremont Motors Companies of Wyoming and Nebraska. After graduating from college with a business degree, he returned to his hometown and joined his father and uncle in the automobile business. He grew the single point business with 17 employees to 550 employees and 12 dealerships, a transportation company, a reconditioning company and a management company. Fremont is the state’s largest auto dealer and is in its 83rd year of business.
He served on manufacturer advertising boards and on automobile dealer councils, been recognized on the cover of Dealer Magazine, written about in Automotive News and has multiple awards for excellence in the industry.
Chuck was an avid pilot who earned his license when he was 19 in an aerobatic decathlon and has since flown numerous aircraft including a Beech Duke, a King Air and a TBM.
Following are some comments from Chuck, himself, in describing the business atmosphere at his company:
“At Fremont Motors, we’re one big family with one big goal: To provide the best auto sales and service in the state of Wyoming. That’s been our mission since my grandfather founded the company in 1938.
“Today, Fremont Motors is one of the fastest growing privately owned companies in Wyoming. A recent Wyoming Business Report named Fremont Motors the largest auto dealer in the state. However, without the sincere dedication of every single one of our employees, this growth would never be possible.
“Fremont Motors is a fun place to work. It’s a friendly, supportive environment where teamwork is a priority. Our outstanding group of associates makes me proud. We take care of each other. It shows: our employee turnover rate is low, and we are fortunate to have employees who have been with us for more than 30 years.
“As we’ve grown, it’s been extremely gratifying for me to see people improve their skills and advance their careers within the organization. As long as Fremont Motors continues to develop and attract such good people, we will continue to grow and provide excellent service.”
Following is a partial history of the company, which now includes four generations of the Guschewsky family:
After 83 years, later that” excellent service” sentiment continues to be the driving force for the company. “It’s not necessarily planned or expected,” Chuck Guschewsky said about the company’s success. “We just want to provide the best sales and service we can to the markets, and the company’s grown because of that.”
Today, Fremont Motors has dealerships in Lander, Riverton, Cody, Sheridan, Powell, Rock Springs, Casper and Scottsbluff, Neb. Franchises represented at the stores are Ford, Lincoln, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, GMC, Toyota, Chevrolet, Volkswagen and Buick. Fremont Motors also has a management company based in Lander.
“It’s the people,” Chuck Guschewsky said about what makes the company thrive. I think it’s an organizational culture where everybody realizes none of us are perfect, and we all do the best we can to provide the best service to the markets we serve.”
He spoke of a culture of teamwork among the company’s 550 employees statewide that sets Fremont Motors apart. “There is also a large percentage of longtime employees that is a resource of knowledge,” he continued. “I’m really pleased with how people join the organization and look at it as a career, not a job.”
After graduating from college in 1979, Chuck Guschewsky came home with a business degree and ready to work for his father and uncle. His uncle Bill retired in the early 1980s and in 1989, Jim appointed his son president of the company. Jim passed away in 2003.
“I always had an interest in the business,” Chuck said. He recalled going out on wrecker calls with his father as a boy. He also worked part time washing cars in middle school.
But the great success doesn’t overshadow his desire to see it continue to flourish at the hands of future generations. “It’s becoming a real rarity in this industry that things evolve into a fourth generation,” he said. That rarity is reality for Fremont Motors as members of the Guschewsky family, including Chuck’s daughter Arin, continue to work for the company.
Propelled to the president’s chair, Guschewsky said he did not necessarily plan to take the business where it is today. His focus, rather, has always been the present. “You take care of the job at-hand,” he explained.
Dealership acquisitions began in 1992 with a store in Cody. Guschewsky said Fremont Motors had developed processes that increase survivability, something essential when a business is family-owned.
The new business model, Guschewsky said, helped sustain operations into the future. The process and strategies were developed for the Lander based-store. “Those operational standards and procedures were a matter of survival,” he said.
“As we developed them, it became apparent they made operations efficient and viable.” Fremont Motors applied the operating procedures to the Cody store, which proved to make the dealership successful. “That concept still continues,” Guschewsky said.
A black and white photograph of Fremont Motors when it was once located on the corner of South Fifth and Main streets hangs on the wall in Guschewsky’s office, serving as a reminder of how far the company has come over the years.
“I love it,” he said about his job. “That’s a key element, not just for me, but I think that’s a key element for everybody in this company.” (A Lander Journal story was used for some information for this news story.)