The History Of Speck Family Dealerships


Speck Motors, Inc. was founded in 1912. Clayton Speck and his brother-in-law moved their families from Illinois to Sunnyside, Washington in the early 1900's. Clayton's first business endeavor was operating a cafe. He also did painting. In 1912, Clayton and his brother-in-law founded the Speck-Rowland Garage with Buick as the car franchise. The Chevrolet History division was added in 1917. In 1920 Clayton bought out his brother-in-law. During the early years, it was not uncommon for customers to trade items such as guns or rings as down payments on cars. Old financial statements list cows, diamond rings, and other items among dealership assets.

A new dealership facility was built on the corner of Sixth and Franklin during the height of the Great Depression. With the economy being what it was, many skeptics thought Clayton had a made a huge mistake. During World War II, Speck's service facility was converted to a machine shop manufacturing parts for the Military. Not until late 1945 and early 1946 were they able to get new cars again and those were sold on a lottery basis to their customers.

Clayton passed away in 1952. He was remembered for his generosity over the years to employees, customers and even people he did not know. Click here to view an article on Clayton and C. Speck Motors. Clayton's grandson, James C. Speck, received a letter in the early 1980's from an elderly woman who was living in the Seattle area. She wanted the Speck family to know that Clayton Speck had for many years been a huge financial supporter of an orphanage she managed. No one in the family ever know of his involvement before the letter. There are countless stories of the great character of Clayton Speck.


In 1950, James R. Speck became the Dealer Principal of C. Speck Motors, Inc. He was attending the University of Washington after serving in the U. S. Army when his father's health was not doing well. He returned to run the family business and guided the business from the early 1950's until his retirement in 1975. In those days, distributors located in Seattle and Portland wholesaled Buick's and Chevrolet's to the dealers. Most vehicles had to be driven to Sunnyside for retail. It wasn't until the early 1950's that railcars were used to ship the vehicles to the city. However, it was the responsibility of the dealership employees to unload the cars at the rail sidings. James R. Speck was President of the Washington State Auto Dealers Association in 1966. He was a big supporter of youth activities in the town such as American Legion baseball, little league baseball and the school Patrol. When the City of Sunnyside wanted to purchase a Jaws of Life for the Fire Department he led the fundraising to acquire the equipment plus donated a vehicle to use with the Jaws. He was a very giving and community minded individual with a big heart for those who were less fortunate.

In 1975, James C. Speck became the third generation to own C. Speck Motors, Inc. Two years later, his father, James R., passed away. He was selected to serve on the General Motors "Dealers Advisory Board" in 1985. The Nissan Franchise was added in 1985 and a separate showroom was built at the south end of the Sixth and Franklin location. During the late 70's and 80's business flourished and plans were made for a larger facility.

Kathryn "Katy" Speck, daughter of James C. Speck, joined her father in the auto business in 1994. She married John Paul "JP" Moore. Katy Moore became Dealer Principal of C. Speck Motors, Inc. in 1998, making her the fourth generation of Speck's in the auto business.

Under Katy's direction, the dealership moved its 6th and Franklin downtown location to a 60,000 square foot facility with 18 acres of property by I-82. The facility is one of the largest and most modern in the area. In 1998, JP and Katy Moore purchased Lightfoot's Dodge Chrysler Plymouth Jeep in Walla Walla and renamed it Moore Dodge Chrysler Plymouth Jeep. In 2002, the Moore's chose to sell the dealership in Walla Walla to Mark Gilbert.

During that same time period in 2002, the Moore's were offered a piece of property off 395 in Pasco, was operating as a Budget used car store. For approximately one year, the Moore's operated it as a pre-owned car dealership. In 2003, they added the Hyundai franchise. Speck Hyundai of Tri-Cities has established itself as a Premier Hyundai dealership in the Western Region.

The most current acquisition was in June of 2008 when Jeff Hall chose to continue the tradition of his family owned business by selling his Chevrolet-Buick dealership to the Moore's. The history of the Hall family is similar to the Speck family. In 1961, Wally and Wilfred Hall formed Hall Chevrolet-Buick in Prosser. In the early 1980's Jeff and Joe Hall, sons of Wally Hall, were introduced into the family business. When Wally Hall retired in 1997, Jeff Hall purchased the dealership. During Jeff's leadership of the family business, Hall Chevrolet-Buick has won many achievements and awards including 1983 Washington State Dealer of the Year and the 1998 and 1999 Chevrolet Genuine Leader Award.

Today Hall Chevrolet-Buick in Prosser is proud to say it is still family owned. Katy and JP Moore chose to keep the Hall name as the employees are what define a dealership. Maintaining superior customer service and a familiar small town feel were strong factors in their decision.

In June of 2008 Jeff Hall chose to continue the tradition of his family owned business by selling his Chevrolet-Buick dealership to the Moore's. The history of the Hall family is similar to the Speck family. In 1961, Wally and Wilfred Hall formed Hall Chevrolet-Buick in Prosser. In the early 1980's Jeff and Joe Hall, sons of Wally Hall, were introduced into the family business. When Wally Hall retired in 1997, Jeff Hall purchased the dealership. During Jeff's leadership of the family business, Hall Chevrolet-Buick has won many achievements and awards including 1983 Washington State Dealer of the Year and the 1998 and 1999 Chevrolet Genuine Leader Award.

In the fall of 2018, Speck Family Dealerships added a new dealership to the family along with four new franchises! Mid-Valley Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in Grandview is now Speck Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram. Plans are to relocate the dealership to Sunnyside on the 10 acres next to C. Speck Motors. The new facility will add two express bays for the service department which will include underground lube bays. By adding these express bays Speck Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram will become a service driven dealership that will take care of guest needs quickly and proficiently!

In January 2019, the Moore's expanded Speck Family Dealerships once again by acquiring Speck Buick GMC (formally Desert Buick GMC) in Kennewick, Washington! Customer service is our top priority and we can't wait to serve the Buick GMC community in the Tri-Cities. We're excited for this next chapter in Speck History!