Mitchell Chevrolet Celebrates 50 years in Marlinton
On July 20th, 2016, Mitchell Chevrolet of Marlinton celebrated its 50th anniversary by providing its customers and supporters with a community picnic in front of the business. We caught up with Joe Mitchell, who along with his brother Sam owns the dealership. I asked Joe to provide a brief history of the business.
“In 1966, my father Reid Mitchell moved to Marlinton with the intention of purchasing Pryor Chevrolet” said Joe. “And we’ve been here ever since. Started very small, and dad worked really hard with his 6 children and wife to make a good living. And then in 1997 he decided it was about time for him to retire. At that time Sam and I purchased the business from him and we’ve been moving along ever since, slow and steady, trying to provide good service to our customers and the community. And here we are 50 years later, still trying to keep up with technology and trying to make sure our customers are taken care of and that our employees have a good place to work, and it seems to be working out pretty well.”
According to the Pocahontas Times, of July 21, 1966, Reid Mitchell bought Pryor Chevrolet from H.W. Pryor who planned to remain living in Marlinton. The article says that Reid Mitchell was originally from Jane Lew, WV, but spent the prior six years as sales manager for George Carroll Chevrolet in Dunn, North Carolina.
Asked about any memories that stand out in his mind about the years he has been associated with the business, Joe was a little bit at a loss for words.
“Of course we remember the flood of 85 and the flood of 96 which were great big challenges for everybody in the community –us included, kind of like wiping the slate clean and starting over again” said Joe. “It’s all kind of a blur. I’ve been here 34 years full time. A lot of things have happened, a lot of changes in the automotive industry.”
Joe remembers what happened during the 2009 recession that could have cost them their franchise with Chevrolet.
“(We were) fortunate enough to be retained by General Motors as a dealer in 2009 when most of the dealers of our size were not offered a contract” said Joe. “But fortunately we were able to retain the franchise and keep moving forward. Hopefully we will be able to continue for a long time.”
Joe mentioned that both the Sales and Service Managers from General Motors’ South East Region were at the dealership celebrating the 50th anniversary and they have been very supportive of Mitchell Chevrolet because they like the way the dealership operates despite not being a large volume dealership.
Asked about challenges they face at Mitchell Chevrolet, Joe talked about the learning curve they and their customers have with new technologies found on today’s cars such as wifi, Bluetooth, back-up cameras and automatic breaking and parking. He added.
“In 1966 the most advanced technology was cruise control” said Joe.
Joe says that they get customers from as far away as Northern Virginia and Ohio. He attributes that to their personal and low stress approach to customers which only a small dealership like Mitchell Chevrolet can provide.
“I would say that the vast majority of the dealerships that you go to, you’d be hard pressed to find who the owner was, let alone speak to them” Joe says. “Sam and I are here for the most part all day long every day and we are available. Most of the people we see on a daily basis have known us for quite a while. So it’s personal with us. It is very personal, and hopefully that gives us a competitive edge.”
So happy fiftieth anniversary to Mitchell Chevrolet and all its employees and we thank them for all the support they have shown over the years to Allegheny Mountain Radio.