An offer from General Motors brought Jay Hodge back to Muskogee, he said.
"They took over the Chevrolet Cadillac dealership from the previous owner, and called me at the end of the last year," Hodge said. "I have a great relationship with them, and I acquired the dealership from them."
It's a homecoming, of sorts: Hodge spent some of his youth in Muskogee alongside his grandfather, James Hodge — founder of a multi-dealership auto sales business now owned by Jay's uncle, Jack Hodge. (Those businesses are entirely separate from Jay Hodge's new enterprise, however.)
"This is the place I came to when I was younger," Jay Hodge said. "This town was always very good to my family."
Now the new dealership owner hopes to be good to Muskogee, he said.
"We want to make people happy," Hodge said. "We want to do what's right and want people leaving here with a smile."
That starts from the ground up, Hodge said, with the dealership's employees.
"My first plan is to treat our employees right and treat them with respect," Hodge said. "If you show your employees respect, they're going to show the customers respect."
Hodge also plans to expand his employee base as growth allows, he said.
"We've added some new management to our staff, and we look to increase our employee count," he said. "As business allows for it, we're going to add employees."
At least one of those new managers is Rick Hamm, who has 20 years of experience in Muskogee auto sales, Hodge said. Hamm said he was thrilled to have a chance to help the dealership grow.
"I'm excited," Hamm said. "It's a great opportunity."
Hodge said he has a proven record of building a business through great customer service that he plans on leveraging here.
"I feel like I have a real track record of success," Hodge said. "I've been able to grow a reputation of treating people the way they deserve."