Building a Legacy
Since our founding in 1937 our focus has remained on customer service. As a multi-generation family business, we strive to maintain and improve the service we provide our customers. The story of today's Master Buick GMC began in 1926 when a young Walter Schlapp arrived in Augusta from Germany to take a job arranged for him by a U.S. citizen who spent his summers in Germany. The 20-year-old Schlapp was a trained metal worker but gladly accepted the job with an ice and coal business to avoid a crushing economic depression in Germany.
William Schafer, Schlapp's best friend has also realized the seriousness of the German depression and joined Schlapp in the ice and coal business using his skills as a bookkeeper. Both men intended to return to Germany to remain; however, time and fate intervened and in 1930 the two best friends married sisters and honeymooned on an ocean liner - back to the U.S. and their old jobs at the ice and coal business in Augusta.
In 1934 the two men decided to open a garage business. From it's start the garage business was service-oriented with an eye toward obtaining a dealership. It was hard work, Schlapp managed the garage while Schafer stayed with the ice and coal company until 1937. That year General Motors made the two men official Pontiac dealers. For two years the dealership struggled until sales picked up and the future began to look bright.
Then came World War II and the manufacture of new cars was discontinued. Schlapp joined the U.S. Army while Schafer (who could not serve due to a leg injury) managed the dealership. During the war, Schafer, managed to keep the dealership afloat with trucks, which were permitted for use by war-necessary industries. By 1950 times were fairly normal and a new facility was built at Telfair and 11th Streets. Over the next 18 years Schafer and Schlapp enjoyed operating the business and growing a reputation for customer service. In 1968 William Schafer died. His son William Schafer, Jr. immediately stepped into his father's place. "I'd only been in the business for six months when everything fell on me." "I'd been around the business and had studied business management and economics at the Citadel, still I had to plunge right in." As a young manager he weathered the gas crisis and some of the stiffest competition.
In 1987 the GMC line was added and in 1990 the difficult decision was made to move the business from downtown to its current location on Washington Road. In 1990 the third generation, William Schafer, III, graduated from college and joined the family business full time. In 1999 the Buick line was added to form the current GM lineup. In 2004 a proud family tradition was continued as William Schafer, III, was recognized by GM as our dealer/operator. Today, as much as ever, customer service is our company's only focus. This focus has guided us for the past 70 years and no matter what the future holds we trust that placing our customers first and providing the best service possible will lead us through the next 70 years and beyond.