Retirement is the next leg of the trip for longtime Lansing resident
By Karen Abbott-Trimuel
LANSING, Ill. (September 2, 2021) – After 52 years of service and commitment to Schepel Buick GMC, Bert Wories is retiring and ready to enjoy time with family and friends as he embarks on a new part of life’s journey.
A Lansing resident for over 60 years, Wories’ story is one of inspiration, servitude, and humility. After being sponsored by his aunt, his grandparents and parents traveled to America from the Netherlands in the early 1950s. His family moved from Munster, Indiana, to Lansing in 1960, where he began working.
As a teenager, Wories’ first job was using his bike to deliver The Lansing Journal door to door and collecting payments for subscriptions.
“It took much skill throwing papers at the door without hitting windows, and I learned very quickly where the neighborhood dogs lived,” Wories said.
A life in the auto industry
That skillful precision would eventually transition to a lifelong career in the auto industry. Wories became a prominent and influential employee through his knowledge, skills, business management expertise, and compassion for people.
At 14, Wories’ first position in the auto industry was washing cars and performing various maintenance duties at Springer Rambler in Lansing, located on Wentworth Avenue just north of Ridge Road—now Aldi. From there, he worked at DeYoung and May Motors in Munster on Ridge Road—now Pizza Hut—a job that came with the added perk of driving the Cadillacs around the lot, which he loved.
In May of 1969, Wories’ father, Bert Wories, Sr., got him a job working with him at Schepel Buick in Lansing, located on Torrence Avenue across from the Lansing Roller Rink—now New 2 You—detailing cars. The business quickly grew and expanded into Indiana, and Wories’ position would grow and develop as well as he worked at Schepel throughout his high school and college years. Wories majored in accounting and marketing/management at Thornton Community College and Valparaiso University.
In 1975, Rich Schepel, the owner of Schepel Buick, offered Wories the Office Manager role at age 22. Under his leadership, Schepel Buick hired a technical company to install a computerized system, an upgrade that would bring the dealership up to date with modern technology at the time and assist in maintaining the organization’s reputation. Wories was also influential in researching and creating benefit plans for the organization and its employees, which contributed to the success of the business and the low turnover rate of its workers.
“I enjoy helping people and seeing them happy,” Wories said. “You will never catch me saying ‘that’s not my job’ as I believe we all have a duty in contributing to the success of the business.”
In 2005, Rich Schepel bought out two neighboring Pontiac dealerships, and with the development of several Schepel dealership in the works, Wories’ job evolved from Office Manager to Chief Financial Officer.
Wories’ retirement has been bitter-sweet for him as he loves what he does and will miss the people he interacts with.
“What I loved most about the Schepel organization is the way they treat their employees and customers. They don’t have a high turnover rate because everyone respects and cares for the other, and we have grown into a family,” Wories said.
“Before passing away, [owner] Rich Schepel cared about his employees, customers, and people as a whole, and it showed in the way he did business. When you work for people like Rich, you want to give your best and commit to the organization,” he continued.
Schepel’s son Tom Van Prooyen has since continued his father’s legacy at the dealership, which is located at 3209 W Lincoln Highway, Merrillville, IN.
“One of the highlights of my job throughout the years has been to send out numerous sizable contributions to area causes and those who are less fortunate than us per the request of Rich and Tom,” Wories said. “Giving back to the community has been very important to the Schepel organization. What I’m going to miss most is the employee, customer, and vendor interactions.”
Wories is passing his role on to Tom’s son, Jordan Van Prooyen, who Wories feels will excel in the position.
Family is everything
Bert and Gail Wories are proud of their close-knit family. They have four children and fourteen grandchildren who love to hear bedtime stories from their grandfather. Their children grew up in sports, and the family motto is, “It’s not the wins or losses. It’s the lives you’ve touched.”
Gail Wories, a retired school teacher, started a music program at her school in the 1980s, and is very proud of what her husband has achieved, saying, “Bert is humble and a very hard worker that never complains. He’s a great father that always led by example, and our children are just like him. Bert works hard but not for a paycheck; it’s almost as if he’s one of the owners, kind of like a family business. He continues to touch many lives positively and remains to be humble.”
Community is key
The Wories have watched Lansing transition throughout the years and has witnessed businesses’ change, growth, development, and expansion through people migrating into the city.
“Lansing is a great place to live. We enjoy Cruise Night, Fox Pointe, and downtown Lansing. For anyone moving into Lansing, you’ve made the right choice,” the couple said.
Bert Wories is looking forward to traveling with his wife, improving his golf game, putting his handyman abilities to good use, and visiting his children and grandchildren.
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