Ken Vance, Mazda dealer merging, keeping names

EAU CLAIRE — Two area auto dealers are merging, but customers aren’t expected to notice any real changes with either of them.

Ken Vance Automotive and Chippewa Valley Mazda announced the merger last week that has both businesses keeping their names, locations and retaining all employees.

A news release did note some of the namesake management at Ken Vance Automotive will be changing with the merger.

President Jason Vance is reducing his role to a public relations position with the merged brands, and Vice President Chris Vance is retiring.

Bill Bertrand, president of Chippewa Valley Mazda since 2003, viewed the new merger as the joining of two well-known brands in the region.

“We are proud of the connections we’ve made with the local community over the years at Chippewa Valley Mazda and are excited to expand our community connection through this new partnership with Ken Vance Automotive,” he said in the news release.

Suzanne Vance Ashley, president of Ken Vance Automotive, also was optimistic about the partnership.

“Could not be more excited for this endeavor,” she stated.

Ken Vance Automotive has been a presence in the Chippewa Valley since 1981.

Short takes

• EAU CLAIRE — Local advertising agency STOKES|HERZOG announced this month that it hired Kim Gillett to be the company’s new CEO. Gillett formerly worked in leadership roles in the local nonprofit sector at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Greater Chippewa Valley and also has experience in package design and engineering for businesses.

• EAU CLAIRE — Royal Credit Union recently hired Gretchen Hudacek to be its vice president business loan officer. Hudacek brings over 30 years of experience in the financial industry, including prior jobs as vice president and commercial banking officer at Prevail Bank and the Chippewa Valley market president for Associated Bank.

• EAU CLAIRE — Royal Credit Union promoted senior infrastructure engineer Adam Kastendieck last week to the position of infrastructure manager. In his new role, Kastendieck is leader of RCU’s IT team responsible for designing, implementing and maintaining the credit union’s infrastructure systems.

From staff reports