Area dealership turns 90
EBENSBURG — Ron Davidson took to the automobile business at a young age.
“I started working when I was 12. I swept floors, changed tires and things like that. I worked here all my life except the four years I was at college,” said Davidson, who graduated from Duke University in 1959 with a degree in business administration.
Today, Davidson, 81, is the owner of Ron Davidson Chevrolet Buick GMC on Route 22, which is marking its 90th year in business.
The business was founded in March 1928 by Davidson’s father, Joseph W. Davidson, near the old Park garage on Caroline Street. The business was there until 1939, when his father constructed a building on High Street. The dealership moved to Route 22 in 1974.
The dealership was first known as Park Chevrolet but was changed to Ron Davidson Chevrolet in 1965.
Buick was added in 2003, and GMC was added about eight years ago, Davidson said.
Davidson became the owner when his father passed away in 1965.
“My dad had the business, and I liked doing it. My three brothers were not interested in the business,” Davidson said. “This is my 53rd year as a dealer. I used to be one of the youngest dealers in the country and am now one of the oldest.”
The automobile business has been constantly changing.
“The internet has made a big difference, also government regulations. The internet has been a help. It allows us to go outside our area to sell vehicles,” Davidson said. “The biggest change is the automobile itself. There is better technology. There are better built cars, gas mileage is better and they are more reliable.”
Davidson has his own body shop and said that providing quality service has always been important.
“If you are going to buy a new vehicle, buy the vehicle you want. Buy it at a price you are comfortable with and, most importantly, buy it where you will get service. We service what we sell. All of our technicians are factory trained. We can fix anything,” Davidson said.
Davidson also offers such incentives as free state inspections and free oil changes as long as the customer owns the vehicle.
Davidson said he has had little turnover among his employees over the years.
“I pay their health insurance. Only a few dealers in the state do that. It is a lot of money, but it pays to cover their health insurance,” Davidson said.
His three sons, Ronald, general manager, and Keith and Christian, assistant managers, work at the dealership.
“I just enjoy cars. I grew up doing it. It is not really work. We don’t consider it a job. We just enjoy doing it,” Ronald Davidson said.
Davidson said there has not been one single key to his business’s success.
“You have to be dedicated and responsible for everything that happens. If you don’t take responsibility for everything that happens, you won’t be in business,” Davidson said. “We deal in honesty. We have a lot of perks, like free state inspection and oil changes. If someone has an appointment, we must start work within five minutes. We also offer loaner service. We are very competitive in pricing. You can’t stay in business if you are not competitive. You can’t survive in this business without repeat customers.”
Giving back to the community has always been important.
“We are best known for our philanthropy. We have supported Little League baseball since 1949. We also support the tipoff basketball tournament for the high school. I am on the board of the Cambria County Humane Society,” Davidson said. “We do a lot of things for the community. We don’t like to say no to anybody.”
Justin Roberts, a salesman for 20 years, said his family always bought its vehicles from Davidson.
“My mom and dad bought all of their cars here. We were always treated like family. Anytime we needed anything, they were here for us, day or night,” Roberts said. “I owned J.R. Mobil in Cresson for 20 years. I referred a lot of my customers here who needed a car.”
Roberts said he enjoys working for Davidson.
“It is a nice, friendly, no pressure place to work. It is not like coming to work. I still have a lot of my gas customers who call me when they need a car. I try to treat them like family also,” Roberts said.
Davidson said he doesn’t give much thought to the fact that his business has survived for 90 years.
“I just go day to day. I don’t think about it. I am proud of the business. My kids are hard workers. Lots of times, children take over a business and it goes out,” Davidson said. “They don’t think anything about working hard. I am 81 and still work six days a week. They are here six days a week.”
Davidson said he has no immediate plans to retire, but his sons will eventually take over the business.
“When they carry me to the casket, I will retire. I enjoy what I am doing,” Davidson said.
In his spare time, Davidson enjoys his collection of antique cars.
“I have a farm in Munster and have a barn where I keep the cars, well over 50. I can’t count them. I have been doing this since 1958. Some of them I run,” Davidson said.