Thursday, December 05, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
Joe Hayward moved his Ford dealership into its current location on Polk Station Road in Dallas in 1975.
September 10, 2013
DALLAS -- Joe Hayward retire?
Well, maybe someday.
The 86-year-old owner of Joe Hayward Ford -- which is celebrating 40 years of selling cars in Dallas this month -- just can't step away from the business he started.
"It hasn't worked so far," Hayward said of retirement. "I almost retired in the early 1980s, but then I decided that I would probably like to retire when I'm 70. Then that changed to 75, then I changed it 80, and then I changed it to 85. Now I'm thinking 90.
"When I try to take a little bit of time off, it's pretty boring," Hayward chuckled.
Hayward doesn't work full time anymore, but does attend three auctions per week in Portland, buying and selling cars. He admits that he's in the dealership at some point most every day, though.
His long career with cars began 69 years ago at a Pontiac dealership in Eugene, where he worked in customer service and the parts department before entering the U.S. Navy during World War II.
After getting out of the service, he went back to working in car dealerships selling Studebakers and Chevrolets.
"Then, a little over 40 years ago, I got interested in having my own business and I contacted Ford Motor Co.," Hayward said.
He was impressed with the improvements Ford had made to its product line at the time and found a good opportunity to reopen a dealership in Dallas.
He had to start from scratch -- the previous dealership had closed 18 months prior -- working temporarily on a lot at the corner of Ellendale Avenue and Orchard Drive, a location that technically no longer exists. In 1975, the dealership moved into its brand new facility at its current location on Polk Station Road.
A 1970 Shelby Mustang GT350 is on display in Hayward Ford's showroom on Polk Station Road in Dallas. The dealership has served the local area for 40 years this month.
At the time, there were six new-car dealerships in Polk County, but Hayward has watched them shut down, one by one, over the years.
"In Polk County, it's us," Hayward said. "It's a very competitive business. It's kind of an honor I think to have survived."
He said the long-lasting economic downturn took its toll on the car sales industry.
It had a direct impact on the last of Hayward Ford's new-car sales competitors, McMullin Chevrolet. McMullin split from its affiliation with Chevy in 2010 due to dealership reductions in the wake of General Motors' bankruptcy. McMullin Motors continues to sell used cars.
Hayward said he doesn't think the new car market will rebound enough for any new dealers to locate to Polk County -- at least in the near future.
"I doubt it because the manufacturers are so interested in facilities that cost so much money that the possibility of a good return on investment is pretty small," he said.
Hayward Ford, however, will continue depending on its Joe Hayward-inspired brand of customer service to keep area residents from wanting to look elsewhere for a new car.
"We feel our future success is going to be based on the good service and loyal customers that we continue to take, hopefully, good care of," Hayward said.
In the 40 years since he launched the Dallas dealership, Hayward said much has changed in the car industry. Car fuel efficiency, safety and reliability has dramatically improved over the years. To name just one example, when Hayward opened his doors to customers in 1973 there was no such thing as unleaded fuel -- or emissions control equipment on cars.
"The longevity of the cars have improved so much, too," he said. "It wasn't that long ago that if a vehicle was getting over 50,000 miles you would start worrying about repairs. Today, you see cars with 200,000, even 300,000 miles on them and they are still out there running. Vast improvements."
One thing for Hayward has stayed the same from day one: his emphasis on having the customer leave his store happy, even if it means he has to search other dealers for the perfect car.
"I've always liked the fact that you can work with a customer to the degree of finding out exactly what they want and being able to match it up so they are completely satisfied," he said.