Chuck Butler, Butler Automotive Group’s Founder / Owner
Chuck wasn’t born into the auto industry… but it was close. Having been born in Buffalo, New York, his father moved the family to California and soon went to work in the car business, allowing 12-year old Chuck to wash cars on his lot. Because of Chuck’s height at the time, he earned 15-cents for cleaning the bottom half, a quarter for the whole car. Over the next few years he worked in all departments, drove a parts truck and moved into sales. He also served six years in the Air National Guard and on active-duty in the Air Force. After graduating from L.A. Valley College and UCLA (where he played water polo) with a degree in business administration he took over his father’s business in 1966.
It was at that dealership in Torrance, CA that Chuck met Linda. He recalls how he made sure he was in the right place at the right time when she stopped by to pick up a friend, and the way he was mesmerized by her waist-length blonde hair. On their first date he took her to a Neil Diamond concert. He says it took him three years and eight proposals to convince her to marry him.
Together, they bought the Ford dealership in Ashland in 1976. That endeavor has since grown into the four dealerships that currently make up the Butler Automotive Group in Medford and Ashland. Chuck is also a partner in Steelhead Finance in Medford, a nationwide commercial finance company, and CPM Real Estate Services with locations in Medford, Ashland and Grants Pass. In his spare time he pours energy into a number of volunteer endeavors, including the Ashland Community Hospital, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Southern Oregon University Athletics and the YMCA.
When asked who he is when he’s not working, Chuck doesn’t hesitate. “I’m a captain”, he says. He and Linda bought their first boat, a canoe, as newlyweds. Now, they get away from it all on a slightly bigger vessel they’ve named “Comme Je Trouve”, which, when translated from French means “as I find things” or, “take it as it comes”. Chuck’s also a family man; He and Linda have four children and five grandchildren.
You can’t miss Warren Cooper, for two reasons: At 6’ 5” he towers over almost everyone. And he always has a mischievous smile on his face. Maybe that’s because, as an admitted “workaholic”, he loves what he does!
Warren is a Medford native and Crater graduate who played forward for the Raiders basketball team back when Southern Oregon University was Southern Oregon College. Since he “enjoys business” and has “always had a mind for numbers”, he studied accounting, going to work for a CPA firm directly out of school. Warren’s lightning-fast computation skills took his career to LTM (now Knife River), then into partnering in two businesses – a video rental shop and appliance store – where he fell in love with retail.
But as fate would have it – he wound up in the auto industry. Warren met Chuck Butler in 1978 upon buying his first new vehicle: a Ford Conversion Van. Not only did they strike up a friendship but Warren became a repeat customer when he bought a truck from Butler a couple years later. His friendship with Chuck turned into a position with the company in the late 1980s, then into a business partnership in 1998.
In the rare moments when he’s not at one of the dealerships, Warren enjoys spending time with Paula, his artist wife of 30 years whom he says he married within a month and a half of meeting. They like to travel and have their sights set on South Dakota’s Mt. Rushmore and Alaska. There’s also lots of family to attend to: four children and three grandchildren. In his free time, Warren indulges in art appreciation, reading – he especially likes history – and golf, which he says he doesn’t play nearly often enough.
Like so many others born and raised in the Rogue Valley, Joe had to leave to realize how much he appreciated his home town. After graduating from Medford Senior High he headed for the University of Oregon to study music (he cops to playing mostly string instruments but can also tickle the ivories). But the lure of performing proved too great and Joe moved to Southern California where he and his wife, Valinda (whom he says he’s “known longer than he hasn’t”) made up two-thirds of a trio. Their music career even saw them performing with Princess Cruise Lines!
When it came time to raise a family, though, Joe and Valinda decided to move back home. He brought with him experience from working at the third largest Ford dealership in the U.S. After having been in the automotive industry since 1984, Joe says it’s the relationship he has with his customers that makes his work rewarding. When he’s not in the Service Center you’ll find him skiing, learning about new music from his grown sons and appreciating the classics of blues, bluegrass and rock-n-roll.
Curtis has literally spent half his life at Butler Automotive Group. Born and raised in Ashland, he played Center and Middle Linebacker at Ashland High School (he says his team saw just 3 losses in 3 years). Shortly after graduating Curtis started washing cars for Butler. A couple years later, he joined the Army National Guard, service that allowed him the freedom to continue his employment. Along the way, Curtis married Jennifer, a neo-natal intensive care unit nurse. Together they’re raising five kids! Curtis describes his clan as a “boating family” and says they love spending time on their houseboat at Lake Shasta. He also adores coaching Ashland Pop Warner football, and being an officer with the Ashland Football Club. And, as if that weren’t enough to keep him busy, he and Jen recently took up ballroom dancing. His favorite dance is Tango.