Our Dealership History
Snell Motors originated in 1951 under the name Brakke Oldsmobile. The dealership was located at 611 South Front Street in Mankato. The only product line carried at that time was Oldsmobile. There were 15 employees.
1956: The dealership relocated to 1215 North Front Street in Mankato. In 1961, Jerry Benzie and Perry Brakke joined together to form Benzie-Brakke Oldsmobile. That same year, Buick and GMC franchises were added. The dealership moved to a larger location on North Riverfront Drive and grew to 20 employees.
1974: After 15 years with General Motors, Don Snell became a partner in Brakke-Benzie. As the dealership continued to grow, two additional buildings were rented – one at 1101 North Front Street to accommodate a body shop and the second at 1103 First Avenue to accommodate the used car inventory. At this time the dealership employed 25 people.
1976: The dealership officially became Brakke-Snell. Don Snell completed his buy-out from Perry Brakke in 1978, making him the sole owner to create what is known today as Snell Motors.
1984: Scott and Todd Snell, sons of Don Snell, joined Don as part owners. To streamline efficiencies the multiple locations housing new car inventory, the body shop and used car inventory were consolidated to one facility at 600 South Riverfront Drive. The new 25,000 sq. ft. building offered additional parking for customers, a new car showroom, new & used parking lot, a service department, parts department and body shop. The move provided space to increase sales and service volume, and generated a need for more employees.
1997: Don Snell retired and the second-generation Snell family took ownership. Todd Snell became the President/Dealer Operator and sole owner of Snell Motors. There were 35 to 40 employees.
2001: Additional growth continued for Snell Motors in the downtown location and the 228 Poplar Street building site was purchased. This was a stand-alone detail department added across the street, thus freeing three bays for Service in the main location. In 2002, this building became what is now Snell Tire & Lube.
2002: The vacant Menards building, on the corner of Madison Avenue and Highway 22, was purchased and used as a temporary indoor showroom for the Snell Motors. Late in 2002 renovations began on the building. The facility is now the largest indoor showroom in southern Minnesota, boasting 35,000 sq. ft. The entire dealership covers an impressive 80,000 sq. ft. set on a 10-acre lot. There were over 80 employees with continued growth and expansion in site.
2003: Snell Motors hosted its Grand Opening festivities in August 2003 to officially announce and introduce the community to the new home of Snell Motors and a whole new concept in the automobile buying experience.
2005: Pat Steffensmeier joined Todd Snell as part owner of Snell Motors and completed his training at Dealer Academy in July 2005. He began his career with Snell Motors in 1985 as a Master Technician and was promoted to Service Manager in 1988. During the initial years of Service Management, he attended GM Management Training and was later promoted to Vice President/Fixed Operations Director in 1997.
2005: Oldsmobile, the original product line carried by Brakke Oldsmobile in 1951, was discontinued. The Pontiac and Cadillac franchises were acquired, adding to the dealership’s line-up of Buick and GMC.
2006: Snell Motors opened guaranteed credit lot “Mankato Credit Yes,” at 800 North Riverfront Drive in Old Town Mankato. Mankato Credit Yes specialized in pre-owned vehicles and guaranteed credit approval using Credit Acceptance Corp. – a Snell-owned funding source for people with challenged credit. Snell Motors had about 100 employees.
2008: The Mankato Credit Yes closed its doors due to internal changes after a successful run. The vehicles, staff and financing options all remained and were moved up to Snell Motors. The dealership celebrated its 5 year anniversary at the indoor showroom location on the corner of Madison Avenue and Highway 22. With continued years of success and growth in departments, staff and profits, Snell Motors is a top dealer in the Mankato area and surrounding regions. It currently has about 120 employees.
2009: Snell Motors took on another segment of the automotive industry and opened Snell Auto Wash in January 2009. This full-service car wash provides exterior washes through the tunnel and also offers interior details in one of the six detail bays. With state-of-the-art equipment, a water reclaim system that recycles 40% of water used and an Express Lane for VIP customers, Snell Auto Wash proves to be Minnesota’s premier place for vehicle care.
2010: Snell Motors partnered with the #1 car rental company in the world - Hertz Companies. Effective April 2010, Snell is an official Hertz Car Rental agent, offering rental vehicle services to the Greater Mankato, southern Minnesota and northern Iowa areas.
2011: The latest addition to the Snell company line-up was Snell Powersports & Equipment (Snell PSE), a dealer of all season lawn care equipment, powersports products and marine products. In addition to offering new and pre-owned inventory, it also offers full small engine repair services.