McMullen: Border states invading Sedalia's economy

October 26, 2012

Sedalia is full of generous businesses with generous owners. The list is so extensive that I dare not try to include it, for fear of inadvertently overlooking one of them.

But there’s one that I will name, because we’re losing it. Town and Country Motors (which isn’t associated with the local branch of Town and Country Insurance even if little Travis once assumed it was) is no more, at least not as we know it.

The big red letters with white trim have been pried off and in their place is a banner letting us know that Sedalia is now the realm of the Olathe, Kan.-based McCarthy Auto Group. The dealership’s Facebook page has been re-branded too.

This is officially MCA’s furthest push into Missouri — though I guess it is appropriate because we all know their name from the Kansas City area television outlets that make up our “local stations.” Now we won’t have to drive at least as far as Blue Springs to act on those tantalizing commercials.

Now I do not fault Bill Shumake for selling. He has his reasons. And I do not doubt that he will still be a positive force in the community even without the power of a car dealership behind him. I just hope that in his absence, his car selling infrastructure will still being used for both good and profit.

I think there’s a lot of value to be found in a business that is locally owned and operated. The places around here advertise it with great pride because it means something to the locals.

We’re not short on car dealerships (nor are we particularly long on them, to be fair) so I’d like to see more than just a place to buy cars. The Sedalia market is getting more desirable each day and we’re going to see more local businesses swept up by groups from the west who want to increase their turf in the coming years. We’re occasionally susceptible to the whims of the mighty Kansas City retail market.

And in the face of that inevitability, all we ask is that they at least pretend to care for their newly acquired community. Be a locally owned business in spirit. We might even try to excuse the fact that you’re based in Kansas.

And if you’ve been reading the newspaper, you might swear that right here in Sedalia we’re currently experiencing some sort of hostile business takeover from the states that border Missouri. Kansans want our car dealerships and Arkansans want our banks.

Yes, you probably heard that Sedalia-based Excel Bank went belly up. And as soon as they called it on the operating table it was revived as a subsidiary of First Simmons Bank of Pine Bluff, Ark.

I’m sure the Excel Bank customers are glad there wasn’t any loss of service — and glad that the new owners are seeing them through an easy transition. And as long as the complete switchover goes smoothly it will be beneficial for local bank customers because their institution will have a wider service range.

It’s never great to find out that another bank has failed. It’s even worse to find out that it was a local bank. But it’s also not great to harbor unhealthy financial institutions. Every rejuvenated bank is another step in the right direction, even if it is painful sometimes.

I’m onto your game, border states! If I see any expensive vehicles licensed out of Iowa or Illinois or anything like that I’ll be sure to keep an eye on them.