BMW Northwest celebrated its 50th anniversary on Nov. 6 at LeMay — America’s Car Museum.
The Fife-based dealership has been family-owned since Werner Scharmach, a German immigrant, founded the company in 1968.
Manfred Scharmach, Werner’s son, is the current BMW Northwest owner and president. Manfred’s daughter, Madeleine McEntyre, is now involved with the company as well.
“Reaching such an important milestone would not be possible without the devoted staff, many which have been with us for 10, 20, even 30-plus years,” Manfred said during the BMW North America anniversary recognition on Tuesday.
Werner Scharmach and his wife, Ida, came from Germany to Tacoma in 1956. Seven years later they opened an automotive repair shop. That shop, European Motor Service, became BMW Northwest in 1968, selling new BMW 1600s and 2002s in downtown Olympia.
About a decade later, in 1979, BMW Northwest moved to Tacoma, and in 1988, moved to its current location along I-5 in Fife.
By then, Ida and Werner’s son Manfred had moved up through the ranks of the company, from washing cars to working in the sales department.
“Through it all, I watched my father set an example for how to run a business, which centered on taking care of the customer,” Manfred said. “Since we don’t have to answer to shareholders, we can take care of our customers rather than the bottom line. Whenever possible, we say yes.”
Manfred assumed leadership of the company in the early 2000s, at which time he added the MINI brand to the BMW Northwest portfolio. In 2009, the company opened a MINI dealership in Seattle.
In honor of it’s 50th year in business, BMW Northwest organized a company-wide giving program that will donate $50,000 to local organizations chosen by employees. The dealership also runs automotive scholarship programs in partnership with Clover Park Technical College and Renton Technical College.
Heroes of Bavaria, an exhibit currently on display at LeMay, is sponsored by BMW Northwest.