Small town, big luxury: Coppus Motors' legacy of Mercedes-Benz excellence in Tiffin

It’s not unusual to spot a Mercedes-Benz driving around the area, but the dealership on the license plate holder may come as something of a surprise.

That holder often has the name Coppus Motors, Tiffin, Ohio, emblazoned on it.

“The first reaction for a lot of people is why is there a dealer in Tiffin,” says owner John Coppus. “I think the fact that we’ve been here so long is part of it, but I also think a lot of people want to come to a smaller place. I think we are less expensive and we give more personal service by being smaller.

“People like that because they are not going into a Taj Mahal. I’m proud of our place and I think it looks good.”

Coppus is the third generation of his family to operate the dealership. His grandfather, Harry Coppus Sr., started the company in 1927 in Fostoria, moving it to Tiffin in 1933 when he added the Studebaker line of automobiles to the dealership. In the late 1940s, Coppus Motors began selling an extensive line of imports, including Jaguar, MG, Triumph, Austin Healy, Alfa Romeo, Porsche and Volkswagen among others.

Selling Studebakers provided the elder Coppus with an avenue to sell Mercedes-Benz in 1954. However, Mercedes-Benz of North America was formed in 1957 and only recognizes that year as when the luxury cars were first sold in the United States.

Coppus Motors FacebookOne of the few photographs taken of the three generations of Coppus Motors ownership pictured together. The photo was taken in 1965 when John was 7 years old, Harry Sr. was 73, and Harry Jr. was 50.“I never really push it,” Coppus says of the three-year discrepancy. “Mercedes-Benz of North America started in 1957. Before that, they were selling cars in the United States through a distributorship with Studebaker dealers. We happened to have Studebaker, so we had already started selling them.

“I’ve told our district manager, but it’s really just fun to brag about.”

There are less than 400 Mercedes-Benz dealerships across the United States, according to Coppus. The eldest Coppus also liked sports cars so he became one of the first import dealers in the Midwest before he turned the business over to his son, Harry Jr.

Coppus Motors has gone through a variety of automobile brands and locations since 1927. Mercedes is the lone import left in the dealership’s lineup, which now also includes Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram Truck. The wide variety of imports fell to the wayside over the years and auto lines such as Studebaker, Nash and Hudson—all sold at one time by Coppus Motors—simply went out of business.

As for locations, Harry Coppus Sr. moved from Fostoria to a building on East Market Street in Tiffin. He moved the dealership twice before building a new facility on Madison Street, across from Tiffin Calvert High School. The dealership moved to its current location at 2190 W. Market Street in 1988, and completed an extensive remodel in 2014.

“As we expanded and brought more inventory in, we grew and moved out to where the shopping area is in Tiffin,” Coppus says. “It’s expanded out there as well, which made the move a great business decision. We have more exposure and so much more traffic. It was a hodgepodge downtown. I don’t know how we survived, looking back.”

Coppus Motors FacebookIn 1937, Coppus Motor Sales moved from 116 E Market St, the current location of Burns Electric, just down the street to 145 East Market, as seen in the picture. One reason Coppus Motors has survived is its dedication to customer service, according to Coppus. Mercedes-Benz are high-priced luxury cars, which means not everyone is going to be interested in the brand, but Coppus Motors makes the buying experience simple and backs that up with top-rated service.

“We try to develop relationships with our customers, which we feel is very important and, obviously, we have been fortunate to have really great employees, who try to give really good service,” Coppus says. “We’re always near the top in customer satisfaction. Manufacturers grade you and we’re always near the top.”

To prove that, the dealership has been honored with Mercedes’ Best of the Best award on multiple occasions.

“I’m sure we are (the smallest Mercedes dealership),” Coppus says. “We’re not in a suburb, but I think Mercedes is happy with us. They get very few complaints because we’ve always done our business dealings with character, honesty and integrity.”

Another factor that has helped Coppus Motors to thrive is the convenience it provides its customers, particularly those buying Mercedes-Benz. A Mercedes shopper never has to step foot into the dealership because the purchase can be done online or over the phone, and the new car is delivered to the buyer’s home at no additional charge.

“When we strike a deal with a person, a lot of times we will deliver the car to their homes or businesses,” Coppus says. “We also have free pick up and delivery for service, so in a sense, they never have to come here. Our customers don’t have to go to the big city or anywhere. We make it real convenient, which I think has made this work for us over time.”

Along with free pick-up and delivery for service appointments, Coppus provides a free loaner vehicle until the customer’s car is returned.

“We try to develop a lot of relationships and they become ambassadors for us,” he says. “They tell their friends where they got their car and tell them, ‘Go there!’ That’s huge since we are out in the middle of nowhere.

“We try to make things very convenient so when the car needs service, we go get it, and there’s no charge for that. We do charge for the service, but not for the convenience of picking it up and giving you a free loaner, as long as the car has been purchased from us.”

The Coppus name has become synonymous with Mercedes-Benz all over Northwest Ohio and southern Michigan. The nearest competitors for the cars are in North Olmsted to the east, Toledo to the North and Columbus to the south.

“It’s our legacy and we’re proud of it,” Coppus says. “You’re just proud of it and you want to make it work and continue on. I have a daughter (Callie Coppus) working here now who has been for six or seven years now, so she’s the fourth generation of Coppus working here.”

For more information, visit