Our History



In 1929, Henry Hummel opened an automobile dealership in Beaverdale, Iowa. As the Hummel family grew, so did the family business. Over the years, three of Hummel's sons joined the business, Henry (Hank), John, and eventually the youngest son, Bill. The Beaverdale location at 2822 Beaver Avenue remained the home, but the auto brands that the Hummel Brothers sold continued to evolve. DeSoto and Plymouth remained the focus for many years, later joined by Studebaker. With some of their brands no longer being manufactured, the Hummel's Brothers started looking for a new economy brand new to the states. In 1969 Hummel’s Datsun became Iowa’s first Datsun dealer.

In 1979 the third generation of the Hummel family joined the family business when Mark Hummel left the accounting industry in Chicago to join Hummel’s Datsun. During the early 1980s two more of Bill and Sally Hummel’s sons, Kevin and Perry, also joined the dealership.

In 1983 the Nissan Corporation decided to stop marketing their vehicles under the Datsun name and put the nameplate of Nissan on their product line as it was in all other parts of the world. With sales steadily increasing, the Hummel family purchased land on Merle Hay Road and broke ground on a new sales and service facility opening in 1985.

Since then, Hummel’s Nissan has continued to grow, focusing on customer satisfaction. Hummel’s Nissan has been named a recipient of the Nissan Award of Excellence 20 times and won the Dealer of Distinction twice.

In 2022 Hummel’s Nissan was purchased by Willis Automotive, a family-owned dealer that has been around for 75 years. Rich, Matt, and Jason Willis pride themselves on exhibiting a culture of treating their employees like family, and Willis welcomed 104 Nissan employees into the Willis Automotive family.

Willis Nissan is the ninth new car franchise for Willis Automotive, with brands including Cadillac, Chevrolet, INFINITI, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, MINI, and Volvo. Willis Auto Campus also owns three Big O Tires locations in Altoona, Ankeny, and Urbandale along with three Pre-Owned locations in Des Moines, Waukee, and Ankeny.

Willis Automotive has approximately 500 employees, and the future continues to look bright as the traditions established by the Betts and Willis families evolve and expand.