Ford Motor Company President and CEO Alan Mulally, left, stands next to Jeff Smith at the company’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. | Submitted
Ford Motor Company President and CEO Alan Mulally, left, stands next to Jeff Smith at the company’s headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. | Submitted

Archived Story

Tallapoosa Ford named official dealership

Published 7:59pm Friday, May 2, 2014

A local car dealership was recently given a big stamp of approval from the company that holds its namesake.

Tallapoosa Ford recently became an official Ford dealership.

Jeff Smith, dealer principal of Tallapoosa Ford, said the process to become an official dealership began in 2013.

“It’s a long process. My father (Mike Smith) was the previous owner and dealer here, and the process you have to go through is to basically apply for it,” Jeff said. “I had to send kind of like a resume to Ford about who you are, academic background and involvement in civic events. There’s a lot of testing and things you have to do.”

The last step in the process, Jeff said, included taking a trip to the Ford headquarters March 24-28 for a conference where he learned more about the company, as well as met Ford president and chief executive officer Alan Mulally.

“The final step was the thing I just did, which is I had to go to Detroit to Ford for a week for what is called the dealers executive conference,” Jeff said. “It pretty much covered the history and operations of the Ford Motor Company and integrating that into the dealership operations – how their functions integrate with ours and support us as dealers.”

During that week, Jeff and dealers from all over the country went through meetings with different divisions of Ford and learning more about the company as a whole.

“It was very impressive, and they were very supportive of their dealers,” Jeff said. “Everyone who spoke during those five days from every division of Ford said they appreciate the dealers and wouldn’t be here without them.”

The benefit of being an official dealer, Jeff said, is that it ensures the future of Tallapoosa Ford in Alexander City.

“The benefit is we get to keep the store,” Jeff laughed. “There is no guarantee of survivorship in any store. What that means is that if we didn’t have a plan in place and something were to happen to my father, Ford is under no obligation to appoint me just because I’m his son. It has to be approved. You have to do these things before it becomes an emergency. We started that process in 2013 and worked through the whole year.”

Overall, Jeff said he left Detroit feeling more a part of Ford.

“It really means a lot, and going up there really made me feel a whole lot more a part of Ford Motor Company and realize how much they really value us (dealers), the communities we’re in and our customers,” Jeff said. “It means a lot to me that Alex City gets to keep a Ford dealer. We’re going to be here.”

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