by Tom Howard
Garry Brayko, owner of Archie Cochrane Ford, and a nominee for the Time Dealer of the Year award, is committed to giving back to the community. He recently presented a $1,000 check to Billings TrailNet.
“Garry has been very supportive of developing our trails and is just a wonderful member of our community,” said Billings TrailNet’s executive director, Kristi Drake. “He has such a history of giving. Our community is fortunate to have him,” she added.
“The most rewarding event in my automotive career of 50 years was the day I became an owner and dealer principal,” Brayko said. “I realized that day that I was now responsible for the livelihood of all of my employees and their families, and I continue to be blessed with outstanding employees and promote their importance to the success of my business.”
A 1967 graduate of Glasgow High School in Glasgow, Montana, Brayko earned a B.A. in business administration and a B.A. in accounting at Carroll College in Helena, Montana, in 1971 and 1973, respectively. It was in the summer of 1967 that Brayko first entered the retail automotive field and he has excelled ever since.
“Terry Chevrolet-Buick in Glasgow was kind enough to put me to work in the parts department for $1.50 per hour,” he said. From there, Brayko took jobs at dealerships in Helena (during college) and Dillon, Montana, and then back to Helena before being named controller for Archie Cochrane Motors in Billings in 1984. He rose to general manager and in 2001, he acquired his initial stock in the business and completed the purchase by 2008.
He is most proud of his nomination for the 2018 TIME Dealer of the Year award. “ I am humbled and honored to be chosen by my peers,” he said. “It truly is a highlight of my 50 years in the auto dealership business.”
Another highlight is watching his team give back to the community, particularly during the Ford Global Week of Caring, which they participated in the last few years. “We have provided manpower and assistance for various clean-up campaigns, building and ground maintenance and repairs, as well as providing and serving meals,” Brayko said. “It is extremely heartwarming to see my employees working together to assist others in need in our community.”
The Billings organizations his team supported are Adult Resource Alliance of Yellowstone County, which helps senior citizens; Tumbleweed Runaway Program; South Central Montana Regional Mental Health Center’s HUB Drop-In Center for the homeless and STEP Inc., which empowers and coaches families of children with disabilities and other challenges.
“We are also major contributors to many area groups,” Brayko said, including the Billings Clinic Foundation; St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation; Carroll College; YWCA; YMCA; Family Service of Billings Foundation; Adult Resource Alliance of Yellowstone County; Boys & Girls Club of Billings; Wise Wonders Children’s Museum (designated as First 50 Foundation Builder); Billings TrailNet; Yellowstone River Parks Association; and AIDSpirit USA.
Brayko was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Bruce Knudsen, executive vice president of the Montana Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Kathy, have two children and two grandchildren.