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LOCAL BUSINESSWOMAN: Works with family, building community relationships

October 24, 2012

Post & Mail photos / Brianne Eichman Bethann Buchanan took the helm in the office of Buchanan Automotive about 16 years ago.


COLUMBIA CITY — Ask John Buchanan, also known as “J.B.,” what he thinks about his wife’s work ethic, and two words sum it all up for him — “super awesome.”
Approximately 16 years ago, John asked his wife, Bethann Buchanan, to work in the office of his business, Buchanan Automotive, Inc., located at 2525 E. Business U.S. 30 in Columbia City.
Since then, Bethann, 55, has been answering phones, developing marketing strategies and getting to know the community better each day.
“There is no way I can oversee everything that is going on daily,” said John. “She keeps me in line, and she is definitely not lazy, that’s for sure.”
A motivated worker
In her secretarial role, one of Bethann’s biggest responsibilities is serving customers.
According to Bethann, several reasons play a part as to why she is motivated to walk in the door every day around 7 a.m.
“I’m the one who gets to tell people that we appreciate their business, and I’m the one who gets to tell them thank you for coming back,” said Bethann. “Working this job, I really get to build a relationship with a lot of people in the community, and I feel very fortunate.”
While Bethann was born in Fort Wayne, she moved to the Columbia City area with her family when she was five.
She graduated from Columbia City High School in 1975 and moved onto college, taking classes at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), and later taking a job as a registered nurse at Miller’s Merry Manor for 12 years.
“Then I worked as an allergist for about a year and a half in Fort Wayne,” she said.
According to Bethann, the transition from working as an RN to working in the office took a lot of adjusting and training, but to her, it was worth it in the end.
“I’ve always said I think everyone should be self-employed once in their lives,” said Bethann. “There are a lot of advantages and disadvantages.”
Another big reason Bethann enjoys her work is the opportunity it gives her to be an even larger part of her husband’s life as she works alongside him.
“It’s different, also, working with your husband. A lot of women don’t do that,” said Bethann. “It’s a challenge at times, but when he comes home at night and he’s talking about something, I usually know what he’s talking about. That’s nice, because if I wasn’t here, I think I’d be missing out on a lot.”
Keeping the business in the family
John’s father, D.L., also known as “Buck” Buchanan, operated the Buchanan Ford from 1963-1980.
“That was where the county jail is now,” said Bethann. “After John’s dad closed Buchanan Ford, John and I opened up Buchanan Automotive.”
During this time of transition, Val Buchanan, John’s mother, taught Bethann many things she needed to know about the business on the office side of the glass.
“She is the one who showed me how to make deposits and pay bills,” said Buchanan.
Bethann’s son, 27-year-old Ben Buchanan came into the business a year ago. Bethann also has three other children, Bart, 26, Andrew, 22 and Emma, 20.
“Ben is the only one currently working here, but the others have all found some way to help out,” said Buchanan.
Life outside of work
While Bethann is not at work, she spends her time exercising three times a week and reading.
“I’ve been exercising since the kids are almost all gone,” said Bethann. “I also love to read all the time.”
In the summer Bethann said the family has a place at a lake, and every Friday night, they finish work at the shop and head to the lake for the weekend.
“I do enjoy work, but I would like to retire someday,” said Bethann.

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