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Scott Ford marks 40 years in Kingwood

KINGWOOD — Since Aug. 20, 1984, Scott Shaffer has been serving the automotive needs of his customers.

Shaffer, who owns Scott Ford at 17812 Veterans Memorial Highway in Kingwood, is celebrating 40 years with the dealership this year, and his employees celebrated his birthday Thursday.

He said although the dealership has thrived, starting it wasn’t as easy as some might believe.

“Me becoming a dealer was very unusual in itself,” he said. ” I was a young man with no automotive experience. I met the guy who owned the Ford dealership and wanted to sell it. I wanted to buy it.”

He said he submitted the necessary papers for the dealership and was turned down due to lack of experience, his age and other considerations. Shaffer said he didn’t give up, instead, he decided to convince the regional office he could turn the failing dealership around.

“I did some research and sent them a proposal. They reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to take a position with the company,” he said. “I went in and we had a chat. The guy at the regional office said he was convinced I could run a dealership but said I would need a partner.”

Shaffer said he found a partner — not a financial partner, but rather one he would pay for advice.

“One evening (the partner) called me and had a list off things he wanted. I told him I couldn’t give him what he wanted. We weren’t even in business yet,” he said. “My partner said he was going to call the regional office and tell them he was not going to partner with me.”

Shaffer said the regional manager, Charlie Crowe, called him and asked if he was having any problems. He said he told him he wasn’t.

“He told me my partner called him and told him he was backing out,” Shaffer said. “Charlie told me he was going to pretend he didn’t receive the call. I signed the papers and opened the dealership. I was 25 years old, the youngest Ford principal in the world.

“I became a student. I didn’t have the skill or knowledge. But I was blessed with some great employees. One was Ronald Ludwick. With his skill and talent we turned a failing business around. He drove to Kingwood from Knottville every day,” Shaffer said.

Over the years, Shaffer said many of his employees have started out in entry-level jobs and worked their way to management, some driving to Kingwood from as far away as Belington. Shaffer said his business has very low turnover, and many of his employees have been with him for 20 to 25 years.

“In 1989, I hired Bill Kelly. He had a wholesale parts business. It was something I was interested in. Now we have delivery vehicles going to Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio and to most of the state of West Virginia making daily deliveries,” he said. “Bill retired about five years ago. The two parts managers we have now worked for me since high school. We have one of the largest wholesale parts businesses in West Virginia, serving between 250 to 300 customers on a daily basis.”

Shaffer said customer satisfaction is important to both him and his employees. He said his dealership has been awarded four of Ford’s Prestigious President’s awards for customer satisfaction, and since acquiring GMC in 1999, has been awarded four GMC Mark of Excellence awards.

“What I am most thrilled about is how the dealership is more like a family than a business,” Shaffer said. “We celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and have a Christmas dinner together. That’s one of the most pleasing times of my life. I talk with every employee on a daily basis and try to help when I can. Being the owner is being a father, a brother, a friend, a banker. Our low employee turnover is the secret of our success.”

Contact Scott Ford at 304-329-6373, Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Closed Saturday and Sunday.