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Austintown Auto Dealers Travel Familiar Roads

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AUSTINTOWN, OHIO – While the major car dealerships in Austintown date to the late 1960s, the history of the families who run them – the Eddys, the Greenwoods and the Martins – stretches back even further.

At the three dealerships, the show runners – Chuck, Greg and Fred, respectively – grew up together and have helped build their businesses close to one another.

“The Greenwoods and Martins are great families and great dealers,” says Chuck Eddy, vice president of Bob & Chuck Eddy Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Fiat. “Their fathers were guys that my dad worked with. We have an affection for the Greenwood family and my dad looked up to Mr. Martin, probably one of the smartest auto men I’ve ever met.”

Greenwood and Martin also sing the praises of their surrounding dealerships. With dealerships that have stood the test of time, it shows they’re doing business right, says Greenwood, owner of Greenwood Chevrolet.

“Overall, that benefits us all. The last thing you want is guys around you who are weak merchandisers or weak at customer service,” he says.

“We represent our brands in the best way and the Greenwoods and Eddys are no different,” adds Martin, owner of Fred Martin Ford Mercedes-Benz. “These are, in my view, high-quality dealers.”

Over the years, each dealership has found different roads to success. With the General Motors Lordstown Complex, where the Chevrolet Cruze is assembled, so close, Greenwood says he has a steady flow of business from the plant.

“We are literally 15 minutes from General Motors Lordstown, one of the largest plants in North America,” he says. “Our job is easy. All we have to do is not mess it up.”

For Martin, traffic from the nearby highways – Interstate 80 and state routes 11 and 46 – funnels business into his two dealerships.

When the Ford store relocated to Austintown, Martin was looking at adding a Mercedes-Benz dealership as well.

“The reason Mercedes-Benz is in Austintown is because of the highways. When we told them we wanted to move here, they were enthusiastic,” he says.

At Eddy’s dealership, things haven’t always been as simple. Chrysler has long been the No. 3 American auto company behind GM and Ford Motor Co. And in a community that’s had a strong relationship with GM since the Lordstown complex opened, there’s always been plenty of competition.

“In a community that’s driven by GM, we’ve been able to stand the test of time with the No. 3 automaker. Chrysler has certainly had its share of troubles, but we established ourselves in a nice community with a nice location,” Eddy says.

At all three, sales are climbing. In August, Martin’s dealerships sold 220 new and used vehicles.

“When I started, if we hit 80 we were happy,” he says with a smile. “The fact that we have more models with higher quality has led us to increase sales.”

Greenwood attributes the gains to an improved eonomy and people willing to spend more money for their cars. “All automotive sales nationwide have been doing fantastic,” he says. “The underlying economics are fantastic for the business and we have great products that customers respond well to.”

And for Chrysler, which recorded its 65th straight month of year-over-year sales increases, that only bodes well for the future at Bob & Chuck Eddy.

“You would start to think that at some point, we’ll run out of year-over-year gains,” Chuck Eddy says. “But because our product is so good, we have what the industry calls ‘conquest sales.’ We’re picking up market share and that’s coming out of someone else’s hide.”

With things on the upswing since the Great Recession during which two of the Eddys’ affiliated brands received government assistance, all three car dealers see a bright future in Austintown.

“The people in Austintown have been wonderful to us. I’m proud to be in Austintown. I’m glad to be in Austintown,” Martin says. “And, frankly, I wouldn’t care to be anywhere else.”

Pictured: Greg Greenwood says GM’s Lordstown plant makes his dealership job “easy. All we have to do is not mess it up.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.