By Emily Wolfe
Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor

BELGRADE – The first car dealership in Belgrade is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this August, and its crew is firing up the barbecue and has invited the mayor and Montana State University Bobcats football coach Rob Ash to speak at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Ressler of Belgrade, which deals in used cars, has brought new business to town, says mayor Russell Nelson, who has been in office since 2003.

“Belgrade has grown over those 10 years, and we’ve seen more car dealerships come in since,” Nelson said. “It’s certainly helped grow the auto business, which is good for Belgrade residents.”

Nelson also pointed to the dealership’s community involvement, supporting local sports teams and nonprofits, from MSU teams, to Belgrade youth baseball and football teams.

Ressler Motors, the dealership’s Bozeman-based parent company, is committed to this kind of work, says Ressler Marketing Coordinator Brittany Sneed.

“We try to give more to the community than we spend on any one form of media,” Sneed said. “We like to keep our dollars spent locally and support local business… If we do something in the interest of the people who live and work in the communities we operate in, somehow it’s going to get back to us.”

In addition to sponsoring the MSU Bobcats, Sneed says, Ressler also supports the university library.

“Investing in that library is going to increase the value of education [there], bring more business here, and result in having more highly educated individuals working and servicing this community. That trickles down and benefits local [businesses].”

Ressler is also the main sponsor for the Can the Griz Food Drive and a supporter of the Gallatin Valley Food Bank fundraiser, said Sneed, who shopped for and wrapped more than 120 presents for foster children at Youth Dynamics over the holidays last year. Ressler tries to help nonprofits whenever possible, she said, be it through sponsorships, in-kind donations, manpower or helping raise awareness.

In total, Ressler employs nearly 150 people, with five at the Belgrade dealership.

That lot typically sells 50-60 cars a month, said Belgrade manager Russell Stump. While many used dealerships purchase vehicles at auctions, Ressler of Belgrade sells mostly trade-ins from its Toyota and Chevy stores in Bozeman, Stump said.

Demand for used cars is high, Sneed said, but growth is slow because supply is inadequate, nationwide.

Even so, Stump says, for Ressler’s Belgrade lot, “It should be a record year, if things continue the way they’re going.”

Ressler Motors of Belgrade will host a barbecue open to the public on Aug. 17, from noon to 5 p.m., in celebration of its first decade in business. The ribbon cutting ceremony will be at noon. The dealership is located at 512 West Main Street in Belgrade.