History of our Chevrolet BMW Dealership in Lafayette, IN

Bill DeFouw, founder of DeFouw Chevrolet BMW, was a used car dealer from Grand Rapids Michigan and always had a dream of owning a GM dealership which eventually led him to Lafayette.  Officially opening in July of 1961, DeFouw Chevrolet was born.  Before entering the car business, Bill sold for Friedman Calculators. 

DeFouw Chevrolet Lafayette INWhen DeFouw Chevrolet opened in downtown Lafayette at 12th and Main, the parts department was located on Teal Road and the DeFouw Body Shop was located on Columbia.  Bill quickly decided he needed to find a new central location with room to expand which led him to our current location on US 52 or locally known as Sagamore Parkway.

In 1963, the new DeFouw Chevrolet was established and the Grand Opening was held in November of 1963. Over the years, DeFouw grew from 6 acres of land to now over 12 acres.  In 1982, DeFouw obtained the BMW franchise and built the new BMW building adjacent to DeFouw Chevrolet in 1997.  When first established, DeFouw had 25 employees and has continued to expand to the current 116 fullDennis Gernhardt: DeFouw Chevrolet Owner time employees and a hand full of part time employees. 

Always focused on putting the customer first, Bill had successfully built a huge base of loyal customers.  Mr. DeFouw also believed strongly in giving back to the community and served on a number of boards and organizations.  Since the beginning, Bill has been a large supporter of the United Way, Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, YWCA, and various other organizations. 

Dennis Gernhardt, the current owner and President of DeFouw Chevrolet BMW, joined the organization in January of 1979 as New Car Manager.  Originally from Indianapolis, IN, Dennis graduated from Xavier University with a degree in Marketing.  Dennis spent five years working in sales with Xerox and then worked at Dan Young Chevrolet for two years in Sales and as Assistant Manager before coming to DeFouw.  After joining the DeFouw Team, Dennis held a variety of positions including General Sales Manager and General Manager before becoming the President and Managing Owner in 1997.

Lafayette IN Auto Dealer

Dennis has continued to grow and expand the DeFouw Brand focusing on our customers and giving back to the community that has allowed us to call home for the past 50 plus years.  DeFouw Chevrolet BMW is still a large supporter of the United Way, Boys & Girls Club and many other local organizations.  In 2011 DeFouw celebrated its 50 year anniversary and to this date continues to hold the title of having the oldest Tent Sale in Indiana and the longest running Tent Sale in the U.S. 

DeFouw Time Line 

  • 1961 DeFouw Chevrolet was established by Bill DeFouwAuto Tent Sale Indiana
  • 1963 DeFouw Chevrolet opens its new location on Sagamore Parkway
  • 1979 Dennis Gernhardt joins DeFouw Chevrolet BMW as New Car Manager
  • 1982 DeFouw BMW was established
  • 1990 DeFouw opens the new service drive
  • 1997 DeFouw completed construction of the new BMW showroom
  • 1997 Dennis Gernhardt became President and Managing Owner
  • 2005 DeFouw expanded and renovated the Used Car Building
  • 2011 DeFouw Chevrolet completes renovation
  • 2013 Expansion completed of new Body Shop office and Custom Drive thru

DeFouw Awards & Accolades

  • DeFouw continues to hold the title of having the oldest Tent Sale in Indiana and the Longest running Tent Sale in the US
  • DeFouw is the 1st dealership to ever put sales staff pictures in the paper
  • DeFouw has held a steak and bean dinner for the service department since the early 60’s.


    DeFouw works hard to ensure we have the best vehicles in Lafayette, IN and offer the best prices in Lafayette, IN.  Feel free to check out our inventory online by clicking here or stop on by and one of our friendly sales consultants will be happy to show you around. 

    From our entire team here at DeFouw, we want to thank you for choosing us as your Lafayette Auto Dealer and we look forward to exceeding your expectations for many years to come!