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Texas Ford dealer Jerry Reynolds to leave business

Amy Wilson | Bowdeya Tweh | Automotive News

Prominent Texas Ford dealer Jerry Reynolds has decided it's time to hang up the spurs.

Reynolds, who had been managing partner and dealer principal of Prestige Ford in Garland, Texas, for 10 years, says he is getting out of the dealership business. Reynolds, 48, is selling his minority stake in the dealership to majority owner Beck Automotive Group, of Charlotte, N.C.

"The Texas and Oklahoma economies have been very challenging over the past few years," Reynolds said in an e-mail to Automotive News. "I was not enjoying the business anymore."

The exit is notable because Reynolds was one of the most visible Ford dealers in the nation. A past chairman of Ford's national dealer council, Reynolds was consulted often by top Ford executives. Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, visited the Texas dealership just a few weeks ago.

Reynolds also headed dealers' peacemaking efforts with the American Family Association. The group declared a boycott against Ford this year after objecting to the automaker's marketing to gay customers.

Economy blamed

Leaving the dealership business is "about the economy more than anything," Reynolds said in his e-mail.

In his 16 years at the Garland dealership, Reynolds presided over its significant growth and more recent falloff. In 2001, Prestige Ford in Garland was the No. 2 Ford store in the nation, Reynolds said. Today, it's about 20th.

According to the The Dallas Morning News, Prestige sold 9,000 new vehicles in 2001. But that amount has dropped by more than half, to 4,100 new vehicles in 2005. Five years ago, the dealership employed 400 people; today, it's around 200.

Reynolds told the paper that the dealership's decline in part stemmed from falling market share for domestic-brand dealers and fallout from last summer's employee discount sale.

Selling other stakes

In the three months before selling his interest in Prestige Ford of Garland, Reynolds also sold stakes in a Ford store in Oklahoma City and a Lincoln-Mercury-Mazda store in Dallas.

Reynolds, who started working in dealerships as a 15-year-old, now intends to pursue a broadcasting career. He will continue to host an automotive advice show that airs on a Dallas radio station. He also plans to work as a consultant and write a book.

"I finally just got tired," he said in his e-mail. "For 33 years, I've worked six days a week, generally 12-hour days. I'm 48 and want to pursue my dreams."
 
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