Ruge’s Subaru is proud to call Rhinebeck home because it means serving customers like you in a community we genuinely love. Our history in Rhinebeck dates back to the mid-1930s and gives us a distinct advantage as the leading Subaru dealer in the region. We know what it means to call Rhinebeck home, and we have since Joseph Ruge took the first steps to bring his automotive dreams to life in the mid-1930s.
Joseph Ruge knew he had something to offer the Rhinebeck community when he opened a one-pump Sunoco fueling station and limited repair shop across from the iconic Beekman Arms in 1935. The location of the business across from a pillar in the Rhinebeck community proved prosperous, transforming Ruge’s establishment into a pillar itself. Ruge’s growing success and broadening customer base inspired him to expand his business by becoming an authorized Oldsmobile dealer.
With the Oldsmobile marquee, Joseph didn’t have any trouble filling his lot and turned to his brother, Herman, for help. Herman sold cars in the Bronx, shipping Oldsmobiles to Joseph via railway. When they arrived at the Rhinecliff Train Station, Joseph unloaded the models himself and prepared them for sale. This work ethic laid the foundation for his ongoing success as an automotive dealer committed to offering unparalleled customer service.
Joseph’s Oldsmobile dealership quickly outgrew the small shop, leading him to move the business to a three-bay garage at 6444 Montgomery Street, the location of Ruge’s Subaru today. Although the new dealership was only a quarter-mile from the original site, Rhinebeck locals considered it “much too far out of town.” Fortunately, opinions changed as Joseph proved his success would never overshadow his promise to his customers.
By the 1940s and 1950s, the Ruge name was ingrained in the Rhinebeck community and was renowned for offering big brand sophistication and small-town values. Joseph guaranteed as much, treating every customer like family and going to great lengths to meet and exceed everyone’s expectations by expanding the company to include sales, service, parts, and accessories. This ongoing growth meant Joseph had to find a balance between looking to the future and staying true to his roots, an effort he had perfected throughout his lifetime.
The dream that carried Joseph throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s took on a greater meaning in the 1960s when he welcomed his son, Lewis, into the business. Fresh out of college and his three-year service as an Officer in the United States Air Force, Lewis was proud to join his father and bring his unique skill set back to his beloved hometown. Rhinebeck would soon reap the benefits of Lewis’ impact as Ruge’s Auto set its sights on expanding once again.
Lewis saw a unique opportunity to take the family business even further in the 1970s. He saw the potential market for a smaller, more efficient economy car. Answering that need meant investing in another automotive brand, a risk that Lewis was willing to take to continue his father’s legacy. In 1970, Ruge's Auto made history as one of the first Subaru dealers in the United States. The risk was worth the reward, with the historic gas shortage that followed sending Americans desperate for the wildly efficient and practical Subaru lineup.
The success of the Subaru lineup gave Lewis plenty of reason to celebrate. Yet, he chose to follow in his father’s footsteps in another way by giving back to his community. During this time, Lewis and his wife, Charlotte, focused on building the business and raising their three daughters––Kristin, Gretchen, and Erica. They instilled in their daughters the same philanthropy Joseph instilled in Lewis as a child. Together, Lewis and his wife raised the next generation of the Ruge family and further established their reputation as a family deeply committed to serving the community and leaving the world a better place through volunteerism and generosity.
Ruge’s Auto turned a corner in the late 1980s and early 1990s when it added another dealership to the lineup and opened a Chrysler Plymouth Dodge location in the town of Red Hook. Within four years, the dealership’s success prompted Lewis to expand again by opening a wholesale parts and accessories store that not only served the dealership but made a vast impact on the community by giving jobs to locals. Once again, Joseph’s legacy as an industry leader in the Hudson River Valley continued in a new direction.
By the late 1990s, the increasing demand for Subaru earned Ruge’s Auto another wave of success that inspired Lewis to update the dealership to better accommodate customers throughout the area. As a result, Ruge’s Auto moved across the street from its original Oldsmobile location into a state-of-the-art showroom in 1997. Just as Beekman Arms was a pillar of the community in the mid-1930s when Joseph opened his fueling station, Ruge’s new showroom became a pillar of Rhinebeck and a symbol of the family’s contributions to their beloved New York hometown.
Today, the state-of-the-art showroom is home to Ruge’s Subaru and is one of four dealerships that are part of Ruge’s Auto Group. The family-owned and operated business added a Chevrolet dealership with the 2016 purchase of Audia Motor Sales and a Ford dealership with the 2020 purchase of Rhinebeck Ford, conveniently located down the road from Ruge’s Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram. These dealerships offer something unique to the community and are forever tied to the young man who started it all with a Sunoco gas station in 1935.
Joseph’s legacy continues today under the guidance of third-generation owner Kristin Ruge Hutchins, Lewis' oldest daughter and Joseph's granddaughter. Kristin is proud to take her father’s place at the helm of the family business, bringing a lifetime appreciation for cars, a passion for Rhinebeck, and a keen attention to detail to the company. As a result, she’s established Ruge’s Auto Group as one of the area’s top employers, where every employee has the opportunity for ongoing professional and personal development. For Kristin, her methods are simple: happy and fulfilled employees make for happy and fulfilled customers, which is precisely what her grandfather set out to accomplish nearly a century ago.
Ruge’s Auto Group is proud to expand Joseph’s vision and serve customers throughout Rhinebeck and beyond. We have a history of weathering every storm, from gas shortages to changing trends and troubled times, with automakers like Stellantis and General Motors. These storms have taught us valuable lessons, like the importance of evolving our business model and the significance of never losing sight of what truly matters––our family of customers. Because of you and our strong ties to Rhinebeck, we always come out on the other side, a feat we also attribute to our steady foundation and the small-town values that guide every aspect of our business.
Our commitment to our customers and our efforts to fulfill our promise to deliver a small-town feel with big-brand appeal is at the forefront of everything we do. Because of this, Ruge’s Auto Group has become a pillar of the community and made a lasting impact on Rhinebeck and the surrounding communities. We have no doubt that Joseph would be incredibly proud to see his dream reach new heights, legions beyond what he ever imagined.