The Putnam family name has long been a staple of the auto industry in the U.S. and its rectitude and integrity are as strong today as they were back when Joe Putnam, himself, first entered the industry in 1953.
After Joe was born on a small farm in South Dakota in 1934, he found himself growing up in one of the more troubling economic periods, the Great Depression. Every member of the family was expected to contribute at a very young age and every child learned a strong work ethic and positive attitude towards self-improvement. His parents were very intent on each of their children growing up to be upstanding members of society.
It was in 1953 where Joe, after marrying his high school sweetheart, Mary Lou, moved off to Minneapolis, Minnesota and began his venture into the auto industry. For five years, Joe worked in automobile retailing, gradually becoming one of the top salesmen for Ford Motors. His hard work was handsomely rewarded in 1958 when he became a partner in his own Buick, Cadillac, and GMC dealership in Devils Lake, North Dakota.
Only seven years later, success had enabled Joe put the family on the move again, this time headed for California. After purchasing a location in Burlingame from Charlie Howard, most famous for his ownership of the racehorse, Seabiscuit, Joe opened the doors to Putnam Buick and began to secure his place in the Northern California auto industry.
But the dream didn't stop with just one dealership. By realizing the changing times and understanding the growth of the imported car business, Joe expanded in 1987 to include a Mazda dealership. Soon after, with his son Marty, Joe expanded further by becoming a Charter Dealer for Lexus in the United States. Dealerships for Toyota and Volvo soon followed along with the rest of the General Motors offerings in the late 90's.
Kent Putnam, another of Joe's sons, is also following in his father's footsteps and today runs Putnam Toyota of Burlingame.