Editor’s Note: The Claysburg Area Hall of Fame has announced its 2019 inductees for its Hall of Fame. The Gazette will highlight each of the entrants in the coming editions.
For over 100 years, the Zeigler family has been servicing the Claysburg community and the surrounding area by helping them to find the best cars for their families.
Walt “W.A.” Zeigler first operated a business at the intersection of Routes 96 and 31 in Manns Choice where he sold farm tractors and equipment. When automobiles were becoming popular, W.A. was promised a partnership with a Bedford Ford dealer. The partnership fell through and a friend told W.A. about the booming town of Claysburg with refractory plants in both Claysburg and nearby Sproul.
In 1918, W.A. Zeigler opened Claysburg Garage, which is now known as Zeigler Chevrolet, on Bedford Street. The business was the first automobile agency in Claysburg and sold Maxwell and Chalmers automobiles when it first opened. The business later added Buick in 1919 and Ford in 1921. Both Maxwell and Chalmers were dropped at this time and Fords continued to be sold until 1926, when the contract was signed with Chevrolet and in 1932, Oldsmobile was added. Buicks were dropped prior to 1939.
The business was taken over by W.A.’s son, Ken, in 1939 when W.A. moved to Altoona to start an Oldsmobile dealership on Plank Road.
Bob Zeigler, son of Ken and Helen (Beegle) Zeigler, took over the dealership in 1967 upon the death of his father. Twenty-one-year-old Bob was the youngest dealer in the United States at the time.
The building along route 220 which currently houses Zeigler Chevrolet was constructed in 1977.
In 2017, Bob was personally recognized as being in the business for 50 years. Bob was selected as Blair County’s Small Businessman of the Year by the Blair County Chamber of Commerce in 2010.
Bob has become personally involved in the community whenever there is a need. From a financial standpoint his contributions helped to get the Claysburg Christmas in the Park Celebration off the ground several years ago. During community events such as Community Days and Homecoming Celebrations, the family and business allow the use of their cars and trucks for parades. The Claysburg Community Theatre has used the barn at the Zeigler farm in the past for summer shows. The Zeigler family’s financial commitment to the community continues to this day. Over the past three years, Bob has been giving his personal time to head up the business segment of fundraising for the Claysburg Education Foundation. He has been contacting other businesses in the area to solicit their financial involvement in promoting education in the Claysburg area.
Bob and his wife, Patty (Bailey) Zeigler, have two sons who both work in the business and are now the owners. Kenneth Robert “KR” is married to Erika Corle, and Keith Robert is married to Dana Williams. Bob and Patty have six grandchildren, Max, Grace, Lilian, Audrey, and Ally Zeigler and Colin Border.
Bob’s son Ken said that throughout the year’s his family’s business has supported all of the businesses that have gone through the community throughout the years.
“We’ve supported every business that has been here from the brick yard and we’ve seen the community go through its good times and its bad times and we’ve kind of weathered the storm and we’re proud to be a fourth generation owned family business,” he said.
Ken added that while many small businesses often struggle to survive Zeigler Chevrolet has been fortunate to be in the community for over 100 years.
“That’s the amazing thing and we’ve been able to see the struggle that probably our parents and grandparents and great grandparents went through and do everything to make sure we can not worry and do the best stuff that we can to be able to pass it on. It’s definitely not a given with the changing market and with Claysburg being a smaller town between larger towns are we going to be able to do that but, I’m sure our relatives had the same thought process when they were going through it so that’s kind of where we’re at going day by day just kind of hoping that it will be able to be passed down,” he said added that the business’ induction to the Hall of Fame is a “very proud moment.”