Engine of trust, service still running at Blake Ford
Published 9:34 am Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Blake Blythe has been earning and maintaining people’s trust for 40 years.
That’s how long he’s been serving his customers’ transportation needs, and this week is a celebration of that commitment at Blake Ford in Franklin.
Growing up in Norfolk, he did such jobs as carrying newspapers, cutting grass and even catching muskrats. Blythe also got to work for his parents Joseph and Peggy Blythe.
Of course long before he got to where he is now, Blythe had to start somewhere, and that somewhere was the Cobb Ford dealership in Courtland, which he bought at 19 years old. The business also sold Ford tractors and trucks.
“I’ve been working ever since then…I was probably one of the youngest people to get a dealer’s license,” Blythe said. “I did everything at Cobb. Delivered tractors, sold, washed cars. I did it all.
“We made money the first month and never looked back.”
As he was making a name for himself, his father, Joseph Blythe, had already established himself with his own dealership, Blythe Ford Inc., in Franklin. Joseph Blythe did so well as to receive a letter of commendation for customer service in November 1971 from Henry Ford II; an achievement that’s set on a plaque in Blythe’s own office. This was when the lot was on West Jackson Street.
Blythe added that he moved his own business to Franklin in 1983.
Later, his father went out of business, and the Sadler family bought it in 2000. Blythe, as he put it, “retired briefly.”
“The Sadlers didn’t do well in Franklin, and I bought it back two days from closing,” he said. “First, I saw an opportunity, and second, I didn’t want Franklin to not have a Ford dealership.”
The city and surroundings have evidently felt the same way because not only has the business lasted, but is soon to expand with a used car center at the old Bill Motors in Courtland. Diane Blythe, his wife, will run that operation.
“We’ll have a real nice sale of used cars, trucks and SUV’s,” Blythe said. “The market’s right with the affordability of used cars and we own the property.”
Because of his love of life on the river, the Blythes live on the Chowan in Winton, North Carolina. There he’s quite active with the town council and Winton Baptist Church. Blythe’s no less involved with the Franklin community, such as the Franklin-Southampton Chamber of Commerce.
Bobby Cutchins, president of the Chamber, said, “In my many years of business, it’s always been a pleasure to deal with an innovative and savvy-type of business person. Blake has always been that. He’s always supported our business needs. It’s been a pleasure to work with him in the Chamber.”
Teresa Beale, executive director of the chamber, added, “As a respected business leader, Blake and his wife, Diane, offer support to the entire business community in various ways. Serving the Chamber as vice president of membership, Blake has led initiatives resulting in the largest number of members we have had in many years. I am always impressed with his ideas and vision to grow our community. It is not an easy task to maintain a thriving business for 40 years. Blake is to be congratulated for his dedication and leadership.”
Naturally, all that community involvement is on top of his 50- to 55-hour work week — “Whatever it takes,” he said.
“I sign every check, every contract,” Blythe said. “My job is to take care of the customers and employees.
“We must be doing something right. Customers don’t come unless they trust you.”
To see what Blake Ford can offer, call 888-338-4988, go to www.blakeford.net or visit at 1011 Armory Drive in Franklin.