In a region where maintaining a business largely depends on whether the snow flies, the Shehadi family's success can be considered a milestone on the South Shore.
Shehadi Motors celebrated its 35th year of doing business Thursday, receiving a longevity award from Toyota.
"The one thing I learned from my father is that integrity is the key to being in business for 35 years," Mark Shehadi said.
"I treated my people right and took care of business," Mark's father, Dick, said. Wife Wendy added, "We were willing to work hard, deal honestly with people and give back to the community."
As patriarch of the Shehadi family, Dick is the president of the corporation. He spends much of his time in Las Vegas golfing during the winter months and lives in South Lake Tahoe during the summer. Son Mark is the general manager and is in the process of buying the business.
The Shehadi journey began back in 1959, when Dick Shehadi moved to Reno from Syracuse, N.Y. He worked as a sales manager for Fairway Motors in Reno.
He met Wendy, his wife of 49 years, while working there. He sold her a used car. There were problems with the car and it took six weeks to fix them all, Wendy said. She would visit the dealership once a week to see the progress being made on her car. Once the car was fixed, Dick said, "Now, there's only one thing left to be taken care of. You got grease on your dress. I could either have your dress cleaned or take you out to dinner." Wendy accepted the invitation to dinner. They met in March 1964 and married in July 1965. They have two sons, Mark and Scott.
The Shehadis moved to Tahoe after Dick and two friends, Charles Orcutt and Dan Leibee, bought Whiteside Chevrolet Toyota in the spring of 1969. The name was immediately changed to Shehadi Motors.
Both Dick and Wendy said that when they moved to Tahoe, house hunting wasn't too easy. There was so much snow that they could not see the houses, Wendy said. "We only saw openings to driveways."
Mark, 38, moved back to Tahoe in August 1991. He has worked as a salesman, sales manager and general manager at Shehadi Motors.
Scott, 36, and his wife, Shannon, own Shannon's Day Spa. They have a 2-year-old son Mikey.
With the population of Tahoe declining, Mark urged locals to support local business. "We need to support this local economy. Keep small businesses like us afloat. That's the key to success of keeping us in business for another 35 years."