Politic365

 
 


National

1:01pm April 23, 2013

Black-Owned Car Dealerships Disappear Across U.S

universal ford

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Richmond Free Press

After spending most of his life in the automotive business, 60-year-old Harry Lee Harris is shifting gears. Owner of Universal Ford since 1986, Harris will on May 1 complete the sale of his successful black-run business to Richmond Ford.

“There is a time to buy and a time to sell,” said Harris, referring to his dealership at 10751 W. Broad St. in Henrico County near Richmond, Va. “My wife and I are looking forward to traveling all over the big globe and being super grandparents. We’ll play lots of golf, too.”

Ron Kody, who is White, owns Richmond Ford. The ownership change means there will not be a single Black-owned, new car dealership in the Richmond area. Virginia, at best, has just a handful of Black-owned dealerships. In Northern Virginia, there are three, Infiniti of Chantilly, owned by Reginald L. Brown Jr., formerly of Richmond, and BMW of Sterling and MINI of Sterling, both owned by Thomas A. Moorehead.

Across the nation, the number of Black-owned, new car dealerships peaked at 532 in 2002, but has fallen by 50 percent since. As of 2012, there were 261 such dealerships, according to Automotive News, an industry trade journal. Those dealerships comprised just 1.5 percent of the 17,653 new car dealerships in the U.S.

In response to a question, Harris elected not to disclose his selling price. “The purchase price was sufficient for Mrs. Harris (Vanessa) and I to retire comfortably. And the Kodys certainly purchased a profitable and premium franchise in the Richmond market, and we wish them luck.”

As of May 1, Universal will change its name to Richmond Ford West. Harris said all Universal employees will be retained as part of the transaction. That includes Geneva Harris, a manager, who is Harris’ daughter.

The youngest of 11 children, Harris was born in Arkansas and grew up in St. Louis. His role model was his older brother, Sam Johnson, one of the nation’s first minority auto store owners. Harris got his start as a teen when his brother put him to work washing cars at his dealership, Metro Lincoln-Mercury in St. Louis.

An unquestionable workaholic with king-sized dreams, he rose to managerial status. “I fashioned myself after Sam,” said Harris. “I used his blueprint to get where I am today.”

His first car was a pre-owned 1962 Chevy Impala that he purchased for $250. He’s been upgrading ever since. Harris and Johnson became partners and transferred to Charlotte, N.C., in 1977 to run Johnson Lincoln-

Mercury. In 1986, with the help of the Ford Motor Minority Dealer Program, Harris purchased Universal Ford. The original location was in the Virginia Commonwealth University area where the Siegel Center now stands. The business moved to Innsbrook in Henrico County in 1989.

Harris has been ranked as high as No. 53 on Black Enterprise magazine’s annual list of the 100 top Black-owned dealerships. In 2012, he received the Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the Metropolitan Business League, the area’s largest Black business group, of which he is a longtime member. He also belongs to the Ford Minority Dealer Association, the Ford Lincoln Mercury Alumni Association, the Urban League of Greater Richmond and the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers. He served on the board of the Garfield Childs Foundation, whose members included former governor and current U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine.

Harris, Harry’s wife of 37 years, is something of an entrepreneur herself. For nine years, she owned and ran Shoes Etc. at Sixth Street Marketplace.

Harris has two brothers, Clyde and Eli Harris, who own and operate used car lots in the Richmond area. The decision to sell will free him and his wife “to do things we’ve never had the time to do,” Harris said. Until now, he said, life has totally revolved around work.

“Nothing is forever,” said Harris. “We’re no different than Thalhimer’s, Bill’s Barbecue, Dick Strauss Ford. All those owners have moved on, too. I’ve got my own bucket list of goals, and I’ve pretty much reached them.”

In retirement, he hopes to speak to business classes at Virginia Union University and other schools. Harry and Vanessa’s four children are graduates of either VUU or Johnson C. Smith in Charlotte. They have three grandchildren.

Life is good. The Harrises reside in a home along the 18th fairway at plush Dominion Golf Club in Wyndham in Henrico. Harris says both he and Harris are “avid golfers,” but “she can  outdrive me because she’s had so much more practice.”

Now, Harris, in “Chapter Two” of his life, will have more time to chase the dimpled ball around the course. You might say he’s trading cars for pars. Being a shrewd businessman, it’s a deal he couldn’t pass up.



About the Author

TriceEdneyWire





 
 

 
12528079994_effe7e5af7_k

New Poll: Millennials considered swing vote in upcoming election

On Wednesday, the Harvard Institute of Politics (IOP) released a new poll of 18-29 year olds. Here are some of the key findings about America’s largest generation and how they might vote next Tuesday: 50% of 18-29 year ol...
by Adriana Maestas
0

 
 
crop1

Record Number of African Americans Running Statewide in 2014

A record number of African Americans are running statewide for the midterm elections.  Below is a chart of the candidates who will be on the ballot on Tuesday.
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 
 
dccc1

DCCC Begs for Cash Again, Finally Mentions a Black Person Running for Congress

The Hill, Mike Lillis: ”Democrats have raised $163 million to the GOP’s $125 million. That’s an enormous discrepancy, especially considering that Republicans control 34 more House seats than Democrats … The DCC...
by Lauren Victoria Burke
0

 

Advertisement
 
2278029793_90f710fd59_b

Will Latina Voices Be Heard on Election Day?

By Maria Elena Perez, National Institute of Reproductive Health As we come to yet another important election season, in which our basic right to choose hangs in the balance, we must ask: what is at stake for Latinas’ access t...
by Guest Contributor
0

 
 
Kay Hagan immigrants

Immigrant activists target Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan with billboard campaign

This week a group of immigrant activists in North Carolina unveiled a billboard campaign taking aim at Democratic Senator Kay Hagan for her immigration positions. Hagan was one of the five Democratic senators who opposed the DR...
by Adriana Maestas
0

 




6 Comments


  1. Great post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I’m inspired!
    Very helpful info specially the last phase :) I take care of such information
    a lot. I was looking for this certain info for a long time.

    Thanks and good luck.


  2. Greate article. Keep writing such kind of information on your page. Im really impressed by your blog.
    Hi there, You’ve performed an incredible job. I will certainly digg it and individually suggest to my friends. I’m confident they will be benefited from this web site.


  3. Howdy! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!


  4. Hmm it seems like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any points for beginner blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>