This is Fred Ball for Zions Bank, speaking on business.
I love fine cars! I walked into Showalter Ford in Vernal a little early for my appointment with Gary Showalter, so I took the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of a classic two-seater red Thunderbird. Man, that is one sweet automobile. I was visualizing driving down the open road when Gary walked out and stirred me out of my reverie.
Gary smiled and told me he appreciated my love of cars. It's been in his blood for his entire life. He showed me a photograph displayed on the showroom wall showing him as a baby, sitting with his father, Don, behind the wheel of a 1949 Ford. The dealership has been in the family for more than 73 years and is built on the premise of honesty, trust and delivery as promised. And in a small town, that's essential for doing repeat business.
The Showalter family was originally in the sheep business. There was a strong entrepreneurial spirit that moved the family into ownership of the old Orpheum Theatre and the Imperial Dance Hall in Vernal. Don joined the Ford automobile business in the late 1930s and was very active in the dealership for 60 years. He passed away in 1999.
I congratulated Gary on the dealership's appearance. It was well designed and attractive. The location is still in close proximity to the original location. In fact, a separate facility, the body and detail shop, is adjacent to the original showroom.
I asked if being a car dealer is much different now than in his grandfather's day. "Absolutely," Gary said. "There is sure a lot more competition. The product is much more sophisticated and diversified. Trucks are now a huge part of the inventory and sales, and that old mechanic has been replaced by highly trained technicians who are very adept at computers."
Gary's grandfather and father preceded him in the management of Showalter Ford. Now a fourth generation is waiting in the wings. Mark, 23, is in his senior year at Westminster College and has proven himself a skilled technician. Matt, 17, is the computer guru and has great knowledge about the company.
For Zions Bank, I'm Fred Ball. I'm speaking on business.