Meet Our Staff

  • Gene Heller

    Gene Heller

    Founder

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    Gene Heller

    Gene Heller

    Founder

    After graduating from El Paso High School in 1947, Gene worked side by side with his father until he joined the service in January 1952. Gene was deployed to Korea where he worked as a halftrack mechanic in the U.S. Army.

    When his young family returned to El Paso, Gene took over the day-to-day operations of Heller’s Garage (the old Sweeney’s Garage) from his father, Bud. A few years later, in February of 1956, Gene borrowed $10,000 from a Secor farmer to purchase the Foltz Motor Company and opened his new Ford garage in downtown El Paso near the theatre.

    In the years to come, Gene, his sons, and now grandsons have turned that small garage into one of the largest Ford dealers in the state of Illinois. The Heller Stores now employ over 150 people. At 85 years of age, Gene is still here to open the “garage” every morning at 6:30. Gene’s guidance and desire to treat all of his customers as if they were family has enabled his business to thrive for nearly 60 years.

    Gene doesn’t have email, so you’ll have to stop in if you’d like to say hello!

  • Dan Heller

    Dan Heller

    President

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    Dan Heller

    Dan Heller

    President

    Dan’s genuine love for both people and cars has set the tone at The Heller Stores for the past 40 plus years. Dan’s passion for his employees and customers earned him the honor of Time Magazine’s Illinois Automobile Dealer of the Year in 2009. Dan and his amazing wife Karen have two boys, and if there is anything Dan is better at than cars, it’s being a father. Although Dan has passed the responsibility of day-to-day operations to his boys, he remains active as the Co-Chairman of the Illinois FDAF and serves his fellow Ford dealers as their representative on the National Dealer Council. An avid collector of vintage Ford’s, Dan always has time to talk cars with friends and visitors.

  • Neil Heller

    Neil Heller

    Dealer

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    Neil Heller

    Neil Heller

    Dealer

    It’s impossible to say when Neil officially started working at Heller Ford, considering that he nearly grew up on the showroom floor. Having spent time in various departments in the dealership, Neil assumed a managerial role in 2005 after graduating from the University of Illinois. Neil earned his position through hard work and because he has a knack for knowing his customers, finding the perfect car for them, and remembering them for years to come. He’s married to the woman of his dreams and if you’re lucky, you might spot them riding around on their tandem bicycle. Don’t be afraid to say hello! When he’s not working hard to put a smile on his customers’ and employees’ faces, Neil enjoys remodeling and furnishing older homes. He’s proud to carry on his father and grandfather’s legacy and lead Heller Ford into the future.

  • Karen Wilkey

    Karen Wilkey

    General Manager

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    Karen Wilkey

    Karen Wilkey

    General Manager

    Karen has been with the Hellers since the time Bud Heller was selling John Deere – that’s 40 years, if you’re counting (Karen isn’t). Karen’s levelheaded approach to problem solving has made her an integral part of our success. Karen is a proud mother and grandmother who used to joke about “those crazy dog people,” but two border collies have since turned her world upside down.

  • Mary Wilkey

    Mary Wilkey

    Office Manager

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    Mary Wilkey

    Mary Wilkey

    Office Manager

    Mary Wilkey is the lady behind all the numbers at Heller Ford. She’s been here for 17 years and runs a tight ship behind the scenes. In her spare time, she focuses on faith and family. She has five kids of her own and five grandchildren. As a grandmother, it’s her duty to spoil them, and she’s pretty good at it!

  • Jeanine Polandick

    Jeanine Polandick

    BDC Manager

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    Jeanine Polandick

    Jeanine Polandick

    BDC Manager

    Jeanine likes to joke that she flew to Heller Ford on her broomstick, but the truth is that she’s as nice as can be. She brings 20+ years of experience to her role as BDC Manager and knows the business through and through. An animal lover, she’d enjoy meeting your dog if you’d like to bring him along!

  • Brandon Menke

    Brandon Menke

    Marketing Director

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    Brandon Menke

    Brandon Menke

    Marketing Director

    Brandon handles all the marketing and advertising for the Heller Stores. He enjoys finding new ways to bring customers to our stores. When not at work, Brandon can be found coaching the Illinois Fusion soccer club in Bloomington or spending time with his wife and two girls.

  • Chris Cunningham

    Chris Cunningham

    Information Technology Director

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    Chris Cunningham

    Chris Cunningham

    Information Technology Director

    Chris started at Heller Ford over 16 years ago in the sales department. His aptitude for all things digital became apparent when he built the dealership’s first website. As the business began to rely more and more on computers, Chris seamlessly transitioned into his current role maintaining all things that go beep. When not thinking in 1s and 0s, Chris helps his wife raise their four agility dogs (3 shih-tzus and a border collie). Just don’t bring up fantasy football, because then he’ll never shut up.

  • Jim Baietto

    Jim Baietto

    Sales Manager

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    Jim Baietto

    Jim Baietto

    Sales Manager

    Jim started his career in the car business in his hometown of Streator when he was in high school. After holding various positions from detailing, parts assistant, and service writer; the business was in his blood and he moved to selling cars. Jim enjoys selling in a “small town” atmosphere where your word is your bond and in the end, your reputation is all that matters. As his wife Mary says, Jim enjoys “punching numbers” and helping customers and sales people find the right vehicle and fit it into their budget. When not at work he enjoys spending time with Mary and their three daughters, getting the Harley out, and watching sports in the man cave.

  • Greg Head

    Greg Head

    Sales Manager

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    Greg Head

    Greg Head

    Sales Manager

    Greg has held nearly every position at Heller Ford. In high school, he worked on the lot, parking cars. He has worked his way up from there – spending time in the service department, parts department, detail, Quick Lane, and sales. Greg enjoys exceeding the expectations of Heller Ford’s loyal customers. In his spare time, he watches his daughter play travel softball and cheers for the ISU Redbirds. It should also be noted that Greg is a perennial middle-of-the-road finisher in the Heller Stores fantasy football league. Greg would like to mention that he loves Thin Mints, in case anyone reading this needs a gift idea.

  • Ron Kizer

    Ron Kizer

    Sales Manager

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    Ron Kizer

    Ron Kizer

    Sales Manager

    Ron Kizer has been with Heller Ford for over 17 years and has over three decades of industry experience. “Kiz,” as we know him, is a proven problem solver who enjoys working for a family-oriented business. In all his years here, he never missed any of his daughter’s golf matches or basketball games. There are many ways to describe Ron Kizer, but if you know him, you know that he can’t possibly be summed up in a single paragraph. For those of you who have yet to meet him, here’s a small sample of what you can expect: family man, hunter, All-State basketball player, dairy queen aficionado, outdoorsman, golf champion, shark wrangler, venison chef extraordinaire. The list goes on and on, but you’ll have to talk to Kiz to find out more.

  • Michael Masterson

    Michael Masterson

    Floor Manager

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    Michael Masterson

    Michael Masterson

    Floor Manager

    With over 27 years of experience in the industry, Mike Masterson is eager to help make buying your next vehicle an easy experience. He came to Heller Ford because he was drawn to the family-owned business environment and the company’s sterling reputation. You can be confident that Mike will put his years of experience to work for you. When he isn’t working, he enjoys golfing, fishing, and the great outdoors.

  • Dan Wickman

    Dan Wickman

    Used Car Manager

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    Dan Wickman

    Dan Wickman

    Used Car Manager

    Danny Wickman has been with Heller Ford for 17 years. A big part of his job is helping the sales staff value customer trades at top dollar, and he’s very good at it. Dan is proud to be a Vietnam veteran. When he’s not spending time with his five grandchildren or his pit bull, he likes to fish and work on remodeling his house.

  • Cory Bellot

    Cory Bellot

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    Cory Bellot

    Cory Bellot

    Cory is an easygoing member of our sales team who truly enjoys guiding customers through the buying process. When he’s not at work and has already tackled his “honey-do list”, you can find him out on the water on his 19’ Stingray boat with friends and family.

  • Mike Bigger

    Mike Bigger

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    Mike Bigger

    Mike Bigger

    Mike has been in the car business selling vehicles for over 20 years. He loves to help people by listening to their needs and fitting them into their dream car. In his free time, Mike spends the majority of it with his family and friends. Most often around a campfire telling stories and just spending quality time together with his wife and two girls (aged 25 and 20).

    When he gets some time to himself, Mike loves to watch sports, especially Football, although his favorite team, Chicago Bears, are not very fun to watch right now!!

  • Raef Friedericks

    Raef Friedericks

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    Raef Friedericks

    Raef Friedericks

    Raef is new to the car business. In the past, he has been a History Teacher and Business to Business Salesman. When thinking about selling cars he remembered the great experience he had buying a car at Heller Ford. He wants every customer to have a great experience buying a car from him. Raef is a dedicated family man that loves going on adventures with his wife and 2 daughters. He also loves to play golf. Raef is an avid sports fan and loves to watch movies. He will work very hard for his customers and is dedicated to helping find the right vehicle for them.

  • Mike Gannon

    Mike Gannon

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    Mike Gannon

    Mike Gannon

    Mike joined the car business 6 years ago after careers in the US Army, Illinois National Guard and Law Enforcement. The military afforded him the opportunity to complete his AAS at Richland Community College and his BA at the U of I. He is married to his wife Laura of 26 years, has 3 children, Breanna, Eric, Ryan and one grand daughter, Emma. He enjoys working with and serving the public and is dedicated to customer service. He enjoys weight lifting, basketball and traveling with his family.

  • Steve Johnson

    Steve Johnson

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    Steve Johnson

    Steve Johnson

    Steve is a problem solver who prides himself on thinking outside the box. He enjoys working with the many long-standing Heller Ford customers as well as meeting new people on a daily basis. He’s pretty good on water skis, loves muscle cars, and has a weakness for gummy bears.

  • Ross Ketcham

    Ross Ketcham

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    Ross Ketcham

    Ross Ketcham

    Ross is eager to help his customers with his easy going personality. When not helping finding the car for his clients, he is often found enjoying many sports, like golf, fishing and softball. He cherishes the time he gets to spend with his new daughter. He loves to cook and someday hopes to own his own restaurant.

  • Noah Kilmer

    Noah Kilmer

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    Noah Kilmer

    Noah Kilmer

    Noah moved to Bloomington in 2001 from the St. Louis area. He came from a mechanical background as a machinist. Finally landing in the automotive business where after working at three separate dealerships, he finally found a home at Heller Ford in El Paso. On his own time, Noah loves spending time in the great outdoors; hunting deer & bass fishing. He also loves to do remodeling projects around the house and spending time with his family.

    For all your automotive shopping needs, Noah is here to listen to your needs and help you find that perfect vehicle!

  • Pete Oldham

    Pete Oldham

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    Pete Oldham

    Pete Oldham

    Pete is a well-rounded car salesman who has experience working on cars as well as selling them. He’s easy to talk to and is confident that he can find the right vehicle for you. He loves motorsports and high performance vehicles of all kinds. When he’s not working, he’s spending the day at the lake with friends or hanging out with his pit bull, Flex.

  • Craig Roberts

    Craig Roberts

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    Craig Roberts

    Craig Roberts

    Craig’s service-focused attitude makes him a great fit for Heller Ford’s sales team. As his customers will tell you, he’s willing to go out of his way to ensure that their needs are met. He just had a baby girl, so he doesn’t have too much free time, but when he does, he spends it on the golf course or in the kitchen. He says his best dish is his chili, but he can cook just about anything.

  • Cliff Sage

    Cliff Sage

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    Cliff Sage

    Cliff Sage

    Ask Cliff’s customers, and they’ll tell you that he does absolutely everything in his power to give them the best deal and make sure they’re satisfied. Cliff came to Heller Ford after having a great buying experience here, and he wants to ensure that all his customers receive the same great treatment he did. He’s no Hollywood chef, but he enjoys grilling and makes a mean rack of ribs.

  • Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith

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    Nathan Smith

    Nathan Smith

    Nathan has 20 years of experience in the customer service industry in various job positions. So, he is very inclined to providing good service and taking care of his customers.

    However, this will be his first foray into the car industry, but he is excited to take on this new challenge and use customer service skills to help his customers find that perfect vehicle!

    In his own time, Nathan is a huge sports fan and he plays pool competitively. If you are a pool player, ask him to play! When not at work or watching/playing sports, most of his time is spent with his wife and dog.

    Come see Nathan for all your vehicle needs!

  • Jimmie Taylor

    Jimmie Taylor

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    Jimmie Taylor

    Jimmie Taylor

    Jimmie Dean Taylor (yes, that’s his real name) is a retired Air Force mechanic known for his knowledge of Ford trucks. He likes to have fun with his customers and maintain a low-pressure environment. He has five children and is a huge Notre Dame football fan. During the season, you can probably spot him on the sidelines of his kids’ sporting events. Even if you don’t see him, you’ll definitely hear him.

  • Rich Tom

    Rich Tom

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    Rich Tom

    Rich Tom

    As his customers will tell you, Rich makes the car buying process easy and fun and always follows up after the sale. He loves working for a family business like Heller Ford that rewards hard work. Though he was born in Chicago, Rich is an enthusiastic outdoorsman who enjoys spending his spare time fishing and hunting, as well as with his wife and family. According to Rich, Jamaica is nice, but he’d rather be in a tree stand or a duck blind.

  • Jody Traylor

    Jody Traylor

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    Jody Traylor

    Jody Traylor

    Jody has spent over two decades in sales at Heller Ford and brings that experience to every customer interaction. Great with follow-up, he has many repeat customers and believes that customer referrals are the best compliment he can receive. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time at the lake with his family and racing his pristine Pontiacs in the Pure Stock Muscle Car Drags!

  • Dan "DJ" Wickman Jr.

    Dan "DJ" Wickman Jr.

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    Dan

    Dan "DJ" Wickman Jr.

    DJ grew up in central Illinois and has worked at both Heller locations. He enjoys meeting new people every day and prides himself on his honesty and fairness. In his spare time, he enjoys reading (he’s a bit of a history buff), video games, and vintage collectibles. If you need a ride to the next Comic Con, there’s a good chance you can hop in with DJ.

  • Mike Sweeting

    Mike Sweeting

    Courtesy Delivery

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    Mike Sweeting

    Mike Sweeting

    Courtesy Delivery

    Mike enjoys working for a family oriented company like Heller Ford because they take care of everyone who comes through the doors – both employees and customers alike. Mike loves that he gets to meet so many people as part of his job. In his spare time, Mike enjoys spending time with his wife and his dachshund. Mike maintains a perfectly manicured lawn and is always ready to start a new landscaping project!

  • Kris Born

    Kris Born

    Director of Finance

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    Kris Born

    Kris Born

    Director of Finance

    Kris graduated from ISU and started his professional life in central Illinois. With 13 years of industry experience and a knack for making things easy on customers, Kris is happy to help customers get the vehicles they need. On a nice day, it’s tough for him to choose between the golf course and his Harley, but if you ask him, neither hobby compares to spending time with his daughter.

  • Josh Deschaine

    Josh Deschaine

    Finance Manager

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    Josh Deschaine

    Josh Deschaine

    Finance Manager

    I have recently relocated to Illinois to join the Heller Family from my roots in Wisconsin. I have been in the automotive sales field since 2007 and have held multiple positions within the stores I have worked for. I am very straightforward, big hearted, hardworking, yet easy going. I am a family man first and foremost and look forward to the time I spend with my wife and three children. I am a huge Packer fan at heart and try to get to one game a year with my family. I look forward to making your buying experience easy!

  • Jake Heller

    Jake Heller

    Finance Manager

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    Jake Heller

    Jake Heller

    Finance Manager

    Jake knew from a young age that he wanted to be in the car business when he would “sell” cars to his parents at the kitchen table. The most rewarding part of his job is helping people make the right decisions on their vehicle purchases, which is exciting for the customers and himself every time! He graduated from Illinois Wesleyan with a Business Administration degree in May of 2015. He’s passionate about being active, especially in CrossFit. When he’s not here, he is most likely spending time with his dog Wrangler or enjoying the outdoors! He’d love to have dinner with his coaching heroes Tom Izzo or Coach K.

  • Steve Marrocco

    Steve Marrocco

    Director of Fixed Operations

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    Steve Marrocco

    Steve Marrocco

    Director of Fixed Operations

    Steve joined Heller Ford recently after moving to Illinois from Florida. He brings several years experience as a Service Manager at a Tampa area Ford dealership. The transition from Florida winters to Central Illinois’ hasn’t scared him off yet.

  • Ryan Garrett

    Ryan Garrett

    Service Manager

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    Ryan Garrett

    Ryan Garrett

    Service Manager

  • Greg Heiken

    Greg Heiken

    Parts Manager

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    Greg Heiken

    Greg Heiken

    Parts Manager

    Greg Heiken has over 27 years of experience in the automotive industry, with more than 7 of that at Heller Ford. He enjoys the Heller attitude of treating customers like people instead of numbers. When he isn’t behind the parts counter, you can probably find him hunting, watching his son play sports, or in his garage with his 2010 Camaro RS/SS or his 1983 Thunderbird Pro Street. Greg is too humble to mention it, but you should know that he is the unofficial El Paso Corn Festival ski ball champion.

  • Tommy Moraga

    Tommy Moraga

    Quick Lane Manager

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    Tommy Moraga

    Tommy Moraga

    Quick Lane Manager

    Coming from a few different independent shops where he has spent the last 15 years as GM, Tommy’s focus has always been on customer service and repeat business. His main focus is his commitment to keeping his customers satisfied. He is raising five boys and has a catering business as well to keep him busy! So you can see he is no stranger to hard work.

  • Kyle Woodward

    Kyle Woodward

    Body Shop/Detail Manager

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    Kyle Woodward

    Kyle Woodward

    Body Shop/Detail Manager

    Kyle has been at Heller Ford for three years, and he’s here to make sure your car looks like new. Reconditioning vehicles is what he and his detail crew do best, and his customers will tell you that their car never looks as good as when Kyle details it. When he’s not spending time with his new granddaughter, you can probably find him enjoying the great outdoors or cruising on his Road King.

  • Joe Adams

    Joe Adams

    Service Advisor

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    Joe Adams

    Joe Adams

    Service Advisor

    Living in El Paso for over many years, I would say I have become engrained with this community. Outside of having 15 years of technician dealer experience, I also volunteer for the El Paso Fire Department, Hudson Dive team and coach my kids in various rec sports! These are things I enjoy and take pride in doing for the community and for my two children, Owen and Gwen.

    I am excited for my opportunity as a Service Advisor at Heller Ford and am looking forward to serving you, our customers! If you need anything, please email me by clicking on the “email” link below!

  • Michael Degner

    Michael Degner

    Service Advisor

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    Michael Degner

    Michael Degner

    Service Advisor

    Mike is no stranger to the automotive industry, having spent over 7 years as a manager and/or technician, where he often enjoyed helping others and making someone’s bad day better. As a big believer in family values as well, Mike has found his perfect match as a Service Advisor with Heller Ford, where we are all a big family. Mike is here to help you with all of your maintenance and service needs. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family and friends, tinkering around in the garage, and traveling.

  • Billie Joe Nussbaum

    Billie Joe Nussbaum

    Service Advisor

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    Billie Joe Nussbaum

    Billie Joe Nussbaum

    Service Advisor

    Billie Joe is a mother of two kids, ages 10 and 5. She has spent the last 4 years at home with them. Before being a stay at home mother, she worked at Central Illinois Trucks in Normal for over 7 years. She started as a service writer and was a contract maintenance manager for the final year. Billie Joe grew up in El Paso, but have lived in Normal for the last 12 years. My weekends are spent at soccer and volleyball games watching my kids.

    Billie Joe is looking forward to helping you with all of your service needs on your vehicle. Just call in today and ask for her!

  • Bob Wertz

    Bob Wertz

    Quick Lane Service Advisor

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    Bob Wertz

    Bob Wertz

    Quick Lane Service Advisor

    You’ll find Bob Wertz behind the desk in Service at Heller Ford. He prides himself on being thorough and ensuring that his customers’ needs are met. When he’s not spending him with his family, you can probably find him watching NASCAR or at the dirt track for some racing. True to form, he loves Days of Thunder and dreams of cruising around in a 1969 Ford Mustang Fastback.

  • Collin Wilson

    Collin Wilson

    Quick Lane Service Advisor

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    Collin Wilson

    Collin Wilson

    Quick Lane Service Advisor

    My main goal is to treat every customer with the best care possible here at Heller Ford and look forward to doing that. My wife and I recently purchased our first home. You can catch me working on the house or in the yard when not at Heller Ford. I also enjoy watching football and spending time with my family.