BANGOR – Derald Cochran remembers the first car he sold as if it were yesterday.
“It was a Dodge Dart. It cost $3,200,” said Cochran, a salesman at Bangor Chrysler Dodge, one of the first auto dealerships to set up shop on Hogan Road in 1974.
The 70-year-old Caribou native, who was born and brought up on a potato farm, has been driving since the age of 10, not uncommon for a farm boy.
Though he could have retired years ago, Cochran said he’s not ready.
Cochran said he has no plans to become a “snowbird,” one of those retired Mainers who flock to Florida and other points south each year to escape Maine’s harsh winters.
He also has no desire to travel.
“I like it home. I’m a homebody,” said Cochran, who lives on Essex Street with his wife, Leola, a native of Allagash.
“I go up to the [Bangor] Mall a lot,” he said.
“When I go, I usually see friends who go there to have coffee and doughnuts and talk,” he said. While he often joins them, Cochran said he did not want that to become the highlight of his days. “I’d rather stay busy.”
Cochran admitted, however, that he has slowed down a little. For the last six or seven years, he has taken Wednesdays and weekends off and now puts in about 32 hours a week at the Hogan Road dealership.
Cochran began selling cars and pickups for Bangor Chrysler Dodge in 1974, first for the dealership’s founder, Philip McFarland Sr., and now for his son, Philip McFarland Jr.
“Both of them have been very, very good to me,” he said. “They were always big on [customer] service,” which was a good fit with his own philosophy.
Cochran said attention to customer service has been a key to his success with the dealership, where he sold 150 to 175 cars in a typical year before going part-time.
“Over the years, it’s paid off,” he said. “There are people I sold to 25 or 30 years ago and they’re staying around. Fathers and mothers and children and grandchildren have bought from me.”
He said he often has passed up a potential sale to help a buyer with a problem.
Cochran also said his work at the dealership helped him cope with the murder of one of his sons, Michael Cochran, who died in what he said was an intentionally set house fire in Dedham in 1981.
“It’s what they consider now a cold case,” he said.
Cochran said he’d keep working as long as his health allows.
“I feel good, and as long as I feel good, I’ll keep working,” he said. “Your job is important, but I will tell you that nothing is as important as your health. Money means nothing if you don’t have your health.”