After almost five decades in the automotive industry, prominent McHenry business leader Gary Lang is retiring.
Owner of Gary Lang Auto Group, Lang said in 2019 that he has run his dealership at the location off Route 31 for almost 30 years. Over that time, he has been a benefactor to the community and also drawn some controversy along the way.
“I’m 71 years old. It’s time,” he said Friday. “At some point, either you walk out or they carry you out.”
Lang got his start back in 1975 selling cars in the summer and bought into a Chevrolet dealership in downtown McHenry in 1983, he said in a 2019 interview. The auto group as it is known today has been at its current location since 1995.
Lang announced his retirement in a two-page ad placed in the Northwest Herald and on his website. He said he has good years in front of him still and hopes to focus on some hobbies that he hasn’t had time for.
“I don’t have any definite plans,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to get up in the morning and not have to worry about the store. ... It’s been a good run.”
Lang declined to comment on the sale of the dealership, saying he has signed a confidentiality agreement and cannot speak about it until everything is finalized. However, the dealership’s current employees will remain at the store even after new ownership comes in, he said.
A sales tax agreement between the city and dealership will carry over to any new owner when Lang formally retires, McHenry Director of Finance Carolyn Lynch said.
The agreement, which has been in place since 2010, calls for the dealership to be reimbursed more than $8 million over a 20-year period, Lynch said. The deal has $4.3 million remaining on it.
Mayor Wayne Jett could not be reached for comment.
Lang also has been a patron to the city of McHenry itself and has helped fund several projects, McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce President Molly Ostap said. He’s also played a massive role in the area’s local economy.
His dealership conducted about $170 million in sales, Lang said in 2019.
Although going beyond his money, he’s also active himself and has his employees participate as well, 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 has meant “everything” to him. The loyalty of the community to his business has not gone unnoticed, he said, adding that you “remember who took you to the dance.”
“We’ve understood from the start that community involvement ... has been very important,” he said. “We give back because the community has given us so much.”
Still, even with his retirement, Lang will be around, Ostap said.
“He’s not going away,” she said. “He’s planning on being very active in the community.”
Lang said that although he’s leaving now, he didn’t rule out the possibility of getting back into the industry a few years down the road.