More than just a car dealership
By Todd Travis
Howard Hubler and his family are well known in the Southside for Hubler car dealerships. But if you listen to Howard’s story, you’ll see how he and his family did more than just sell cars. Their community orientation has led them to shape and develop the Southside of Indianapolis over the past decades.
Hubler’s uncle came to Indianapolis in 1957 to open a dealership near Keystone Avenue and 52n/a Street. Hubler’s father also moved to Indianapolis to work with his uncle. When Hubler graduated from college, his father asked him to train to run dealerships himself, which he did. Around this time, Hubler recalled a particular event that helped put Indianapolis’ Southside on the map. “The only thing I remember is we had the Greenwood Park mall, which was in decline because it was an outdoor mall in an area of indoor malls. The Simon Incorporation decided to build an indoor mall Greenwood, which is now the largest mall in the state – over a million square feet,” Hubler said.
Hubler recalls some of the changes to the indoor mall. “With the infusion of this new mall, the Southside has transformed from a rural farming community to a 50/50 farming and executive community. Eventually it turned into an executive and middle-class neighborhood and the farms became fewer and fewer, which was a bit bittersweet,” he said. “Indianapolis grew north first, then later south. Center Grove was part of the driving force behind the growth, and it was a big deal when the Center Grove football team beat the Carmel football team because it showed the Southside isn’t just a funky backwoods town,” Hubler joked. “We really felt affirmed as a town when we had a TGI Fridays and some of the other franchise restaurants. Today it’s more important when a local chef is risking his own money and opening a restaurant,” he added.
If you ask Hubler, he’s most proud of how his dealers have been able to partner with the local community and contribute to the betterment of the area. He was able to do this in particular when he came to the aid of the YMCA after its building was hit by a tornado. “What he did was he took out a lot of the outside walls and destroyed the inside. So they needed a place to go. So we worked on a very modest financial situation and became the YMCA for about two years,” Hubler explained. “In the meantime, they asked my wife and I to do a campaign to help them raise money for a new building. Pence, for some ministries and international schools and a variety of other things so we agreed we raised funds by throwing parties and meeting business people for lunches and praise God we were able to raise the $5 million they needed. If you go to the new YMCA today, you’ll see large windows on the second floor facing the street. It was a carryover from the windows we had in the concession when the YMCA l was using because q People liked to look out the windows and see the seasons change,” Hubler concluded.
Today Hubler has continued his legacy through his children. “I sold my position to my brothers and then I wanted each of my kids to have their own dealership. So I partnered with my kids and my son Greg has Greg Hubler Chevrolet plus a few other locations. My daughter Christi has Christi Hubler Chevrolet in Crawfordsville, Ind. and my son Russ has Russ Hubler Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in New Castle, Ind. and Russ Hubler Ford in Greensburg Ind. I have a kid to do and it’s gonna be interesting to see this he does,” Hubler said.