C. Speck Motors, Inc. was founded in 1912. Clayton Speck and his brother-in-law moved their families from Illinois to Sunnyside, Washington in the early 1900's. Clayton's first business endeavor was operating a cafe. He also did painting. In 1912, Clayton and his brother-in-law founded the Speck-Rowland Garage with Buick as the car franchise. The Chevrolet division was added in 1917. In 1920 Clayton bought out his brother-in-law. During the early years, it was not uncommon for customers to trade items such as guns or rings as down payments on cars. Old financial statements list cows, diamond rings, and other items among dealership assets.
A new dealership facility was built on the corner of Sixth and Franklin during the height of the Great Depression. With the economy being what it was, many skeptics thought Clayton had a made a huge mistake. During World War II, Speck's service facility was converted to a machine shop manufacturing parts for the Military. Not until late 1945 and early 1946 were they able to get new cars again and those were sold on a lottery basis to their customers.
One employee that became a fixture of the Sunnyside community was Charley Barber. Charley was in charge of the gas pumps in the front of the dealership and was known by every child in town who walked by on their way to school. Speck Motors had the greatest ambassador in Mr. Barber. He worked for three generations of the Speck family.
Barber was born in Rockhill S.C. on April 5th 1908. Charley was
"drifting" when he arrived in Sunnyside in 1934. He had traveled from
the East Coast, working in Pittsburg, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and a
several other places. Charley worked as a waiter, fry cook, bellhop,
bus boy and in his own words "anything he could find to do, that paid a
wage". Charley was hired by Clayton Speck at C Speck Motors in 1948.
Charley worked for Clayton, Jim and JC becoming part of the "Speck
Family" thru 3 generations. While employed at C. Speck Motors Charley
pumped gas, ran parts, kept the dealership looking nice and neat and a
dozen other things! Charley and his wife Betty raised 2 daughters in
Sunnyside and he said "it's been a good life". Charley was very helpful
with the upcoming 4th generation Speck family. He assisted with the
chauffeuring of the current owner Katy Speck Moore by helping her mother
with transportation to Katy's pre-school.
In 1975, James C. Speck became the third generation to own C. Speck Motors, Inc. Two years later, his father, James R., passed away. He was selected to serve on the General Motors "Dealers Advisory Board" in 1985. The Nissan Franchise was added in 1985 and a separate showroom was built at the south end of the Sixth and Franklin location. During the late 70's and 80's business flourished and plans were made for a larger facility.
Kathryn "Katy" Speck, daughter of James C. Speck, joined her father in the auto business in 1994. She married John Paul "JP" Moore. Katy Moore became Dealer Principal of C. Speck Motors, Inc. in 1998, making her the fourth generation of Speck's in the auto business.
Under Katy's direction, the dealership moved its 6th and Franklin downtown location to a 60,000 square foot facility with 18 acres of property by I-82. The facility is one of the largest and most modern in the area. In 1998, JP and Katy Moore purchased Lightfoot's Dodge Chrysler Plymouth Jeep in Walla Walla and renamed it Moore Dodge Chrysler Plymouth Jeep. In 2002, the Moore's chose to sell the dealership in Walla Walla to Mark Gilbert.