The conception of Bonander Auto, Truck & Trailer Group happened over 75 years ago. Einer Johnson and Emory Bonander became partners in a small Studebaker franchise in the heart of Turlock's bustling downtown. While Einer focused on the sales end of the operation, it was Emory who drove the parts and service end of the facility. For over two decades, J&B sold and serviced Studebaker's until the manufacturer's sunset in the 1960's. Seeing the end of Studebaker coming, Emory looked a few blocks to the east to Wennell Pontiac. For the next thirty years, Emory would come to call 231 South Center Street home.
Above, Emory and Dorothy Bonander at home in their Studebaker store on Broadway Street
in downtown Turlock.
Above, Wennell Pontiac at the time that Emory Bonander became a partner. The building, though considerably different today still houses the headquarters for Bonander Auto, Truck & TrailerGroup.
In 1963, the Wennell family, looking to retire from the automotive business saw an opportunity to pass the torch to an enthusiastic Emory Bonander. While Emory became a partner initially, within a year or so, he had bought out complete ownership of the Pontiac store.
Above, in the mid 1960's, Bonander purchased the local Buick franchise and moved it to the showroom on South Center Street. Pictured above, for posterity, left, Emory Bonander's son, Donald Bonander, and Emory, right, pose in front of a new Buick.
Since the 1960's, Bonander has seen ongoing and constant expansion and growth. The company, during the late 1960's acquired GMC, as well as brands like International and became a recognized figure in valley trucking through their sales and service operations. In 1995, the truck operations, which had been located in downtown Turlock found a new shingle on Golden State Boulevard on the northern edge of Turlock. The new, state of the art facility allowed for an expanded parts and service department, and situated on nearly 12 acres of land, came to serve Bonander's commercial truck customers even better than before.
In recent years, Bonander has increased its dominance in the medium duty GMC truck operations. Years ago, medium duty was but a mere afterthought with the dealership selling but a handful of W-series, 4500 or 5500 trucks annually. Today, however, things have changed. Frank Goldsmith and Steve Mannion, Bonander's leading fleet specialists, have injected new life into the truck operation. Today, the store stocks a wide variety of trucks and they specialize in custom bodies and upfits. For instance, of recent, the store has experienced increased sales in propane vehicles. Additionally, Bonander has served as a vendor to the State of California, providing many trucks to CalTrans and other California entities. When Emory Bonander passed away in October 1998, son Don took over the entire operation. Today, the Bonander organization remains a very intimate, family environment that operates on the same principles of honesty and integrity, just as it did when Emory were here. Don Bonander, and his wife Wendy, helm the entire operation from their Madera and Turlock stores. Both are active in the business on a daily basis and very committed to the continued growth of the business.