America has had a love affair with automobiles for more than a century. People remember fondly their first car. In Winamac, Jim Dobson Ford has fueled that passion for 50 years.
The dealership opened on May 26, 1972. Owner Jim Dobson was in sales at Charlie Roberts Chevrolet in Rensselaer. He decided to start out on his own and purchased the local Sunoco gas station which included a used car lot. Jim Dobson Ford opened its doors at 214 N. Monticello Street in Winamac before moving to its present location at 806 N. Plymouth Road in 1974.
“Over the past half-century, times weren’t always easy, but Jim Dobson’s strong Christian faith got him through the tough years,” recalls his son and current owner Steve Dobson. “The Jim Dobson Ford motto – Treating customers like family since 1972 – has guided the family and our devoted employees. Our loyal customers have brought us where we are today.
“Jim would be so proud of his legacy,” Dobson adds.
That legacy includes multi-generations of the Dobson family involved in the automotive business.
All four Dobson children worked at the dealership, with son Steve taking over the original Ford dealership after Jim’s passing in 2010. Jim’s daughter Brenda worked at the Winamac location as office manager.
In 1988, Jim’s son Bill moved on to open Bill Dobson Ford in Shoals, Indiana, and then at its present location in Washington, Indiana. Don opened Don Dobson Ford in Monticello in 1992.
The third generation of Dobsons are carrying on the family tradition. Spencer works at Jim Dobson Ford. Billy, Brent, Alyssa, and Chantel are part of the Bill Dobson Ford team, and Travis and Heathers are at Don Dobson Ford.
But it’s not only the family that has left its mark on the business. Dobson says the dealership’s customers are critical to the dealership’s success, whether new ones walking into the dealership for the first time or those who have previously bought or sold there.
“Our loyal customers have brought us where we are today,” Dobson says. “We have customers who started with us when the dealership opened in 1972. We are a family business and have been honored to serve the vehicle needs of our customers’ children and grandchildren.”
Dobson has returned that loyalty to the Winamac community by supporting high school athletics and academics, the local 4-H program, local food pantries and other community causes. The Jim Dobson Memorial Scholarship benefits Winamac Community or West Central High School graduating seniors seeking a degree in the music or automotive field. Most recently, the dealership initiated sponsorship to cover adoption fees to secure homes for pets at the local animal shelter.
“We are proud to call Pulaski County home, and we serve those customers and surrounding counties including Strake, Jasper, Cass, Fulton and White,” Dobson says.
That quality of service, dependability and reliability that comes through from the sales department is also reflected in the service department.
“Our service department staff is trained and experienced and uses Ford’s high service standards to deliver excellent service,” Dobson adds.
After decades in the business, Dobson has seen changes. From Ford model stalwarts that include the F-150, Explorer, Ranger and more recent models the Focus and Edge, have come new innovations such as the hybrids that are less dependent on gas and environmentally friendly. Automatic brake systems, collision sensors, electric vehicles, camera systems, and smart technology has impacted the market. So to has the move to a digital presence, allowing customers to see photos, vehicle details, and prices before an in-person visit, Dobson says.
The Jim Dobson Ford officially celebrated its 50th Anniversary on Saturday, May 28. The event was a success with hundreds in attendance, Dobson says.
Anyone who is looking to buy a new or pre-owned vehicle should put their trust in his dealership, he adds.
“Now is a great time to buy,” Dobson says. “Interest rates are still relatively low, and manufacturers offer incentives, and rebates. Many of the used vehicles we offer were sold and serviced here so customers can be confident they are purchasing a reliable, quality vehicle.”
Jim Dobson Ford is located at 806 N. Plymouth Road, Winamac. Call 574-205-0025 for the showroom, 574-205-0307 for service and 574-200-0994 for the parts department. Visit www.jimdobsonford.com for more information.