Camillus's Pugh carves out niche with Milo Motors

Mike Pugh wanted to be an auto dealer since he was a little kid. The Camillus resident said he went into the car sales business immediately out of high school and while studying business at Onondaga Community College.

He hasn't looked back.

"My first gig was for Donahue Dodge," Pugh said. "Then I worked for Roger Burdick as the finance manager at their VW/Porsche/Audi."

His next stops were Alan Byer Volvo, Fayetteville Dodge and the Summit Group -- formerly Val's Dodge -- out of Solvay.

Now in the third decade of his dream job, Pugh said he noticed changing trends in the auto market and decided to make a change of his own.

In October, Pugh opened Milo Motors on Taft Road in North Syracuse. The business name comes from the first two initials of his and his wife Lois's first names.

Changing sales climate

Pugh said he noticed new- and late-model used car sales slowed way down recently.

"Gas prices were going up, and the economy was beginning to falter," Pugh said. "I started getting a lot of people coming in and asking, 'Do you have anything for a couple of thousand dollars?' These are the same people who would have come in before to buy a $10,000 car and sign a note for a couple of years. But suddenly, people were definitely looking for low-cash sorts of cars."

Pugh said the dealerships he worked for didn't carry cars in that market because reconditioning costs are so high.

"I would tell them to let me look through my files and see if somebody is going to trade in a car or sell it themselves," Pugh said. "I would help them search the newspapers. Then I realized I was sending these people -- a whole market of customers -- away to buy cars from people's driveways or other dealers."

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