History of our Chevrolet BMW Dealership 

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.

When 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 fulltime 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.


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 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.