At a recent Lawrence Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Chris Burd was called up to receive a plaque for the new Burd Ford facility that just opened on Pendleton Pike. I overheard someone lean over and whisper, “Burd’s the word.”
Chris and Rich Burd are one of Geist’s most recognizable couples, calling Feather Cove III and Lawrence Township home. While greater Indianapolis has gotten to know them through their :30 second Burd Ford commercials, many Lawrence residents know them through their four children in Lawrence schools just like any other family.
Childhood sweethearts, Chris and Rich Burd grew up on the northeast side of Indianapolis. Chris was only 14 years old when she met her brother’s best friend, Rich. Four years later, they were married while Chris attended Butler University and Rich was back from Ball State University.
“We had a home off of Buckingham down by Butler University for seven years,” recalled Chris who was majoring in radio and television. “They kicked me out of the program,” she chuckled. “They told me I didn’t have a voice for radio so I need to find another major.”
“We always wanted to move out on a lake,” Rich said. “I grew up on Morse Lake so I always wanted to live on the water and have my boat.”
Growing up in the family’s wholesale car business, Rich always wanted to be on the retail side. He opened his first venture in 1983 called Indiana Car & Truck, which is still open today on Pendleton Pike (Burd Auto Mall).
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Like many young entrepreneurs, Rich embraced the Internet in the mid 90’s and built the Indiana Car & Truck website himself. “The Internet was in its infancy back then. I built the website and it just started to grow exponentially,” Rich said.
In 1999, the Burds purchased the worst performing Ford dealership in the Indianapolis market, Chuck Callahan Ford on East 38th Street. Ranked 16th out of 16 dealerships, the Burds quickly turned the new Burd Ford into the 3rd best performer.
“When we bought that dealership, we knew we were going to be moving it to Lawrence,” said Chris. “We always wanted to be closer to home.”
And move it they did late last year to a brand new facility at 56th and Pendleton Pike, just down the street from the recently renovated and renamed Burd Auto Mall. Lawrence didn’t just gain a new car dealership, but they gained a good corporate citizen as well.
The Burds are active participants in Lawrence Schools, volunteering for the Lawrence Township Basketball League, Lawrence Junior Football League, and sponsoring numerous teams and leagues throughout the year. They have also donated thousands of dollars to the Lawrence Township Foundation, Make a Wish Foundation, and have become involved in the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.
But one of the most unique community activities the Burds host is birthday parties at the dealership. That’s right, birthday parties. Thanks to a new movie theater and conference room, the Burds will host birthday parties complete with cake, balloons, and food for free.
As for the movie theater, the public is always welcome to come in and watch a movie while enjoying free popcorn, soft drinks, and fresh baked cookies. Just check the www.BurdFord.com website for movie times and showings. Guys, it’s a cheap date and you can show your special lady that new Shelby Mustang on the way out.
A grand opening is tentatively scheduled for March 23rd where the community will be invited to watch the official ribbon cutting and meet a couple of Ford Motors’ top executives.
We want to wish Chris and Rich Burd the best of luck in their new facility. I was charmed by Chris’s hospitality and impressed with Rich’s business savvy. Together, they make quite the duo. I won’t be surprised to read that Burd Ford is the #1 dealership in Indiana someday.