“The service makes the difference”

By | July 31, 2007 12:00 am

Woody Phillips
This business spotlight has been endeavoring to shine as bright of a light as possible upon new businesses locating and, in some instances, growing here in White County, and it will continue to do so. However, every so often we feel it’s also necessary to re-direct some of the focus toward businesses which have been mainstays in our community, and may sometimes be taken for granted because they have been around so long.
Edd Rogers Chevrolet is one of those businesses. If you have been a resident for very long you’ve either bought several cars from Rogers or, at the very least, you have to pass by his business several times a day.
Rogers spoke with the Expositor recently and explained how he got started in the business. He told us, “I was employed by Lee-Wallace Chevrolet in 1950. For those who haven’t been here all that long Lee-Wallace was located where Rite-Aid Pharmacy is right now.”
Rogers indicated he had attended a business school in Chattanooga after graduating from White County High School. He left the business school to take the position at Lee-Wallace as a bookkeeper.
After working about six years at the Chevy dealership Edd said he moved to the Studebaker dealership, located just below where the White County Library sits these days. When that dealership closed a short time later, Rogers opened up a used car outlet there and operated it until another good stroke of luck came along in 1961.
While Rogers was dealing in used cars he noted the Lee and Wallace partnership dissolved. This left White County without a Chevrolet dealership and gave Edd Rogers the chance of a lifetime.
In 1961 Rogers applied for and received the Chevrolet franchise and hasn’t looked back a single time. Upon receiving approval from General Motors Rogers moved back into the old Lee-Wallace building and stayed there another 12 years.
Rogers stated, “We sold a lot of vehicles out of that old location. Mostly trucks, just like it is today.”
And it wasn’t just Chevys he was selling, because Rogers said when he took on the Chevrolet line it also included Pontiac and Buick. But Chevy trucks, according to Rogers, were the big sellers back then and continue to be today.
Rogers said he moved into his present location in 1973. And for the past 34 years he has sold his General Motors lineup to people from all over Tennessee, as well as the surrounding states, and a few others from farther away still.
But he is still a humble man. When we asked how does a man build a reputation for being somebody anybody would want to do business with, he couldn’t answer right away.
Then Rogers stated, It’s an ongoing thing. I could no more slow down today than I could have 40 years ago. This business is built one customer at a time, but if I were to stop and rest on my laurels it would go down in no time.”
And Rogers believes the people he has surrounded himself with over the years have as much to do with his success as anything else. He said he has been very particular in his selections
Rogers explained, “I’ve got to know all about a man, his background and his history. No matter if he’s applying for a job as a salesman or a technician.”
Of course, these days Rogers’ general Manager Bob Lollar handles most of the hiring, except for the service department, where Rogers’s son Ronnie Rogers is in charge, and the body shop. But Rogers hired all of them so he trusts each one explicitly.
Rogers’ business has grown quite a bit since first obtaining the Chevy franchise. He also acquired a Ford franchise after several others could not make a go of it, and then luck ‘shined’ down on Rogers one more time when a franchise in McMinnville became available, several years ago, which included the Cadillac line.
Again, surrounding himself with good people paid off, because Rogers’s other son Eddie Rogers seems to have inherited his father’s ability to size others up. The younger Rogers began honing his expertise at the Valley Ford location before spending some time in McMinnville, but he has now returned to oversee the Valley Ford operation.
So, surrounding yourself with good people is one way to succeed. But Rogers also told us the key to making his or any other business work is service.
Rogers said, “Service is what it’s all about. You can have the best product on the road. You can sell it at a really good price, but if you can’t give that customer the kind of service he or she needs, when they need it, you’ve probably lost them as future customers.”
As Rogers also pointed out it may be the salesman who puts a smile on the customer’s face, but it will be the service department who keeps it there. And Rogers believes he has the best service department anywhere.
Rogers also gives a lot of credit to his wife Miss Billie. He indicated she has been there every step of the way and deserves the “lion’s share” of the credit for their shared success at home, in the community and on the job.
Lastly, Rogers said he appreciates all of his costumers who have come to him over the years when they have needed a vehicle. And even though he’s been at it for nearly six decades he still enjoys coming in to work each day.
Edd Rogers’ Chevrolet is open from 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday. However, if Fords are your passion, Edd Rogers’ Valley Ford Mercury is located on Hwy. 111 in Sparta, or any of the staff at Edd Rogers Automotive in McMinnville would be happy to see you.

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