Patnoe earned a B.S. in business management from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion in 1977. His passion for the car business was born in 1963 when his father, Lawrence, brought home a demo Ford Galaxie 500XL convertible from the dealership where he worked.
“My dad asked me to wash the car for him, which I enthusiastically did. It was the most beautiful vehicle I had ever seen. On that day, at age 8, I was convinced that when I grew up, I wanted to work at a car dealership and drive beautiful new vehicles every day.”
Throughout high school and college, he worked at his father’s dealership as a lot attendant, parts runner and vehicle detailer. But his career would take a different route. Patnoe entered the financial industry after college, serving as vice president for two Rapid City banks from 1977 to 1995.
“My banking career gave me a priceless education. I was very fortunate that my spouse, Jane, understood I was a full-time banker and part-time car dealer, working all day at the bank and most evenings and weekends at my father’s recently acquired dealership, Liberty Motors.”
In 1995, Patnoe made the move to the dealership full-time and has since helped the business expand into Liberty Superstores, which includes five locations in Rapid City and Sturgis, South Dakota, representing brands Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Hyundai, Jeep, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Ram and Volkswagen. His son, Max, is the next generation to enter the family enterprise.
“Our growth and success were only possible with good products and loyal, hardworking teams supporting our vision for Liberty Superstores.
Patnoe is also committed to the retail automotive industry as a whole and currently serves as managing director of the Rapid City New Car Dealers Association and is on the board of directors for the South Dakota Automobile Dealers Association, where he co-chairs the employment recruitment and retention committee. “In this role, I initiated an expansion of communications to dealership employees across the state, highlighting the rewarding careers offered in our industry and the educational training available.
To help fund charity initiatives, Liberty Superstores hosts a car sale at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. “This event is known as the largest car sale in the tri-state area. A portion of this event’s marketing budget helps fund year-end donations to local nonprofit youth programs.”
Patnoe also devotes his time to the Boy Scouts of America Black Hills Area Council (current advisory board member); Ellsworth Air Force Base (past honorary commander); Black Hills Jeep Jamboree (current local coordinator); Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce (past board member); and the Mount Rushmore Society (lifetime member).
He also supports United Way of the Black Hills; Black Hills Federal Credit Union Charitable Fund’s annual School Supply Drive; Rapid City Public School Foundation; Black Hills Area Habitat for Humanity, plus many others.
“As a lifelong member of the community I believe my impact on civic and local activities comes from respecting the history and previous success of organizations, while bringing enthusiasm and support for embracing future challenges."
Patnoe was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Myron L. Rau, president of the South Dakota Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Jane, have three children.