Prominent McHenry CEO Gary Lang is retiring after nearly five decades in the automotive industry.
Gary Lang Auto Group owner Lang said in 2019 that he has operated his dealership at the off-Route 31 location for nearly 30 years. During this time, he was a benefactor to the community, and in doing so drew some controversy.
“I am 71 years old. It’s time,” he said on Friday. “Eventually you either walk out or they carry you out.”
Lang started selling cars in the summer in 1975 and bought from a Chevrolet dealership in downtown McHenry in 1983, he said in a 2019 interview. Since 1995, the automaker has been in its current form in its current location.
Lang announced his resignation in a two-page advertisement in the Northwest Herald and on his website. He said he has good years ahead of him and hopes to be able to focus on some hobbies he didn’t have time for.
“I don’t have any concrete plans,” he said. “It will be interesting to get up in the morning and not have to worry about the store. … It was a good run.”
Lang declined to comment on the sale of the dealership, saying he had signed a non-disclosure agreement and could not discuss it until it was finalized. However, the retailer’s current employees will remain in the business even after new owners come in, he said.
A sales tax agreement between the city and the dealership will transfer to each new owner when Lang formally retires, said Carolyn Lynch, McHenry’s finance director.
The agreement, which has been in place since 2010, would see the retailer reimbursed more than $8 million over 20 years, Lynch said. The deal still has $4.3 million left.
Mayor Wayne Jett could not be reached for comment.
Lang was also a patron of the City of McHenry itself and helped fund several projects, said Molly Ostap, president of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce. He has also played a large role in the local economy of the region.
His dealership had sales of about $170 million in 2019, Lang said.
Although he goes above and beyond his money, he is also active himself and lets his employees participate, Ostap said.
“He’s extremely generous,” Ostap said. “It’s not just his money but the time and support… in general is very strong.”
Lang said being a part of the community meant “everything” to him. The community’s loyalty to his business hasn’t gone unnoticed, he said, adding that you “remember who took you to the dance.”
“We understood from the start that community involvement was … very important,” he said. “We give back because the community has given us so much.”
Nevertheless, Lang will also be there with his retirement, said Ostap.
“He’s not going away,” she said. “He plans to be very active in the community.”
Lang said that while he’s leaving now, he doesn’t rule out rejoining the industry in a couple of years.