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History

Jessup Auto Plaza was founded more than 70 years ago when, at the height of the depression in 1936, Edgar L. McCoubrey and Charles “Woody” Dutton partnered to buy an Oldsmobile/Cadillac/GMC dealership in Riverside, California. To augment sales at a time when business was difficult, McCoubrey brought Cadillacs down to Palm Springs to sell at the La Plaza, the desert’s premier shopping/business center at the time.

That early business necessity ultimately became home for the partnership’s first expansion, and Plaza Motors opened its doors for business on January 1st, 1938 (the same year the City of Palm Springs incorporated). The dealership sold and serviced Cadillacs, GMCs and Oldsmobiles from La Plaza until moving to its long-time location at 290 North Indian Canyon Drive in 1954.

It was from this location that Andrew Jessup married Charles Dutton’s daughter, Diane, and began his career in the car business. Jessup remembers the significance of that first lease on North Indian Canyon Drive: “That was the first long-term lease anyone had signed on Indian land. We originally put up a steel building that would last five years. That is how long the lease was for! If we had to, we could take the building apart and move to a new location when the lease was up. But in 1960, we signed a 25-year lease at the same location.”

In fact, the dealership would continued to grow at this location for the next 41 years. But by 1996, Plaza Motors’ growth began to strain the small Palm Springs/Indian Canyon facility. The dealership had added Pontiac/Buick to their lineup, and General Motors mandated separate facilities for each Buick/Pontiac/GMC and Oldsmobile/Cadillac operation.

A move was in order, and Plaza Motors set their eye on a 13-acre property along Highway 11 in Cathedral City, at the heart of the Coachella Valley. With its central location, association with a strong auto center, and space for two showrooms and more service facilities, the location was ideal for both the dealership and its growing, valley-wide customer base.

General Sales Manger Dan Jessup, remembers the day the big move finally came: July 4, 2001. “The sacrifices each employee made were significant,” he recalls. “While their family and friends were heading to cooler grounds, we lugged desks, shop equipment and automotive parts across hot asphalt.” On opening day, the brand new 80,000 square feet state-of-the-art campus was christened under a new name: Jessup Auto Plaza. This new brand incorporated the family name while maintaining a piece of the La Plaza/Plaza Motors history.

In its new home, the business continued to thrive. In 2003, Jessup Auto Plaza was named Business of the Year by the Cathedral City Chamber of Commerce at its prestigious ORION Awards. In 2006, the company welcomed the Saab franchise and became one of the first Hummer dealerships in Southern California.

And in 2008, they celebrated an especially exciting landmark: the long awaited acquisition of Chevrolet. “We were so excited about the opportunity to finally sell and service Chevrolet products,” said Andy Jessup, Jr., General Manger. “It fulfilled a family dream that began with our grandfather, when he founded the company in 1938.”

Now run by its third generation of Jessups, Jessup Auto Plaza continues to follow the legacy of Charles “Woody” Dutton by staying involved in the community and local politics. Andy Jessup, Jr. serves on the board of directors for the Cathedral City Chamber of Commerce and holds the position as President of the 111 Auto Center in Cathedral City for the past XX years. The Jessups’ collective resume also includes contributions of service to many important organizations including United Way, Kiwanis Club, American Cancer Society and Desert Heath Care.

“It’s been a great journey, the business was started in hard times,” says Andy Jessup, Jr. “We will keep doing what we do well, grass roots customer service, to get through these times. We look forward to serving the Coachella Valley’s Automotive needs for another 70 years.”

Jessup Auto Plaza serves the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas including: Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells La Quinta, Indio, Coachella, Thermal, Hemet, Morongo Valley, Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms (29 Palms), Yucca Valley, Banning, Beaumont, Calimesa, San Bernardino, Riverside, Temecula, Blythe, El Centro, Calexico and the Imperial Valley.

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