Wednesday, April 26, 2017

In 1903, St. Cloud bicycle-store owner Stephen Tenvoorde signed a dealership agreement with Ford Motor Co. to sell cars. Today, Tenvoorde Ford is the world's oldest Ford dealership.

Stephen Tenvoorde was an industrious young man. He started his own blacksmith shop in his twenties. Then he started selling bicycles, he repaired them too. He loved to tinker.

"Evidently when the first automobile came out it caught his interest," Jack Tenvoorde says. "So he brought the first automobile to St. Cloud, a Milwaukee Steamer, up the Oxen trail from Minneapolis. That was in 1899

in 1903 he went to meet Henry Ford, and he was the 2nd person to become a dealer... but the 1st person has long since sold out, and doesn't get to be the oldest dealership after that moment of sale.

During World War II Cy Tenvoorde was forced to lay off all of his salesmen, except one. The dealership concentrated on repairing carburetors, fuel pumps, generators, ignitions, distributors, transmissions, crankshafts and re-building engines

Used cars were repaired and put on sale. It sold service by encouraging people, through advertising, to keep their cars in good repair. The purchase of a crankshaft grinder that cost a shocking $8,000 at the time eventually paid for itself through repairs. Against all odds, business grew.

The company reached the point where it was rebuilding an average of 125 engines a month for retail customers and several competitive dealerships. 'Dad made more at that business than he did selling cars,' said Jack Tenvoorde. 'When the war was over, Ford put in its own official factory machine to rebuild engines, and put him out of that business.'

the 5th generation of the Tenvoorde family started working at the dealership in 2003, just like all the generations of the family before him, he started with washing cars. Well, his granddad also ran a tractor for demonstrations when needed, back when Henry Ford required all dealerships to have a tractor in the showroom.

No comments:

Post a Comment