Chappells take over Bagott Motors, aim to keep Palouse engines humming
PALOUSE – fter nearly 90 years in the family, Bagott Motors, a landmark in the city of Palouse, has changed hands but remains a family business.
New owner Charlie Chappell, a 28-year-old former diesel mechanic, said he and his wife KaeCie, 27, finalized the purchase May 1. The couple said they are running the business as co-owners.
“She does all the heavy lifting – the paperwork,” Chappell said with a laugh.
Local Fire Chief Mike Bagott said the business was managed by his father, Bud Bagott, up until the sale. He said the impetus behind the move boils down to two factors – age and economics.
“My dad’s 80 years old now, so he’s getting up there, where it’s time – he’s wanting to kind of be done with it and still be involved to some extent,” Bagott said. “He still goes to work every day, but as far as the ownership and the operation of the business, of course, Charlie and his wife are taking that over.”
He said the economic landscape of small towns makes it difficult for local businesses to have employees. It helps if the owners also are the primary employees, he said, since most small-town businesses are running on such tight margins, trying to keep overhead and administrative costs to a minimum.
“Charlie is doing it the way that it needs to be done,” Bagott said. “That’s the way you make a repair shop work in a small town – and it’s still tough, but it’s a lot more doable that way when the owner’s able to be the producer as well.”
Chappell said the business, originally a car dealership, now focuses on auto repair rather than vehicle retail.
Someday, he said he’d like to have larger vehicle bays so he can work on combines and other farm equipment, but for the time being he is working on everything from an ailing rototiller to a Corvette.
“We’re kind of just willing to work on anything at this point is what it’s come down to – which you have to in these small towns,” he said. “You can’t turn away everything, you just have to take what people want to have worked on.”
KaeCie Chappell said beyond merely owning a new business, she is excited to be included in the community.
“There’s a lot of young business owners that are coming into town, and it’s really exciting to be a part of that,” she said. “The community has been really welcoming. I mean, we have people who just come in to say hi and congratulations. That’s pretty cool.
She said their small family lives closer to Farmington than Palouse, but may consider moving closer someday. She would like to send their children, 3-year-old Brynlie and 1-year-old Declan, to school in Palouse, where her mother works as a teacher.
“We’re slowly just kind of integrating ourselves into the community,” she said.
Charlie Chappell said he plans to retain the Bagott name and iconic neon sign, in part as a tip of the hat toward Bud and his lifelong devotion to the business. Bagott said, for his part, he doesn’t mind if the Chappells want to change the name.
“If it can be kept here as an auto repair business, that’s far more important to me than keeping the name on it,” he said. “It provides value to the community in that, if somebody needs local repair work, you can get it done.”
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