General Motors representatives were in Cleveland on Wednesday to officially sign the agreement that makes Don Ledford Automotive Center the official Chevrolet dealership, succeeding Hall Chevrolet, which had a 60-year history as the area’s dealer before the owner’s retirement in 2009. The Cleveland GM dealer was affected when GM pulled franchises nationwide. Don Ledford Automotive in Cleveland retained its GM brands and later added Chevrolet to its roster to join Buick, GMC and Cadillac.
Debbie Ledford Melton, general manager and partner, was surrounded by employees and family as she signed the agreement to became this area’s official Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealer.
In Cleveland for the event were Mark Rankin, network manager for GM; Scott Houser, manager for aftermarket sales for Chevrolet; Kent Burroughs, zone manager for Chevrolet; and Jeff Sullivan, district manager of aftermarket sales for Chevrolet.
Earlier in the week, Chevrolets began rolling onto the lot and were being prepped for placement on the expanded lot. Don Ledford Automotive Center is currently undergoing a $2.3 million construction project to build new showrooms, customer service areas and expand its lot. Customers have been coming into the business to pre-select Chevrolets and in the coming days an exclusive “Bow Tie Club,” symbolic of the popular car’s icon, will be announced.
During Wednesday’s signing, Melton acknowledged her parents for their guidance and support through the years.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank my parents, Don and Sue Ledford,” she said. “We would not be here today if not for their support. Also, in 1981 my father had the vision to build a 24-[space] service bay. Because of his vision, we have been able to handle the extra workload of Chevrolet service and offer the most technologically advanced equipment and certified staff anywhere in this area.”
The official signing was a private event with General Motors, the sales, service, marketing and leadership team and family members taking part.
“I wanted everyone present because no one is smart as everyone in this room today,” she stressed. “To completely satisfy our customers, we must all be a team. GM has selected us to represent GM in Cleveland, Tenn. They selected us because they had the confidence in us that we could exceed our sales effectiveness and completely satisfy our customers.”
She added, “Our marketing team has been selected because they understand the job ahead of us and have passion about marketing DLAC to be the best place to purchase vehicles and the best place to service vehicles. Our leadership team has been selected because they are leading us to our next level to accomplish our mission to be the best in sales and service in our area of responsibility. Every one of our employees has been hand-picked because of their passion about their job. With all our passion at work, we are going to be the best place to purchase a vehicle and the best place for service.”
Each company employee, family member and GM visitors wore bright gold bow ties to commemorate the event, symbolic of the popular Chevrolet icon. Female employees wore rhinestone and pearl necklaces with bow-tie ornaments. It was a festive day planned for employees, owners and family members to commemorate the event.
Rankin of GM addressed the employees following the historic signing, telling them he had been working with Debbie Melton and her staff for the past three years and was impressed with the professionalism and enthusiasm exhibited by each person. He commended the entire group of employees for their dedication to retaining the GM franchises and acquiring Chevrolet.
Following the official signing of the Chevrolet agreement, Melton spoke with employees and each of them signed on to continue the mission of making Don Ledford Automotive Center the best place to purchase and service a vehicle. Each of them was given a 100-year commemorative pin and cap from Chevrolet officials.
Melton said the campaign to establish a “Bow Tie Club” for the first customers who purchase Chevrolets from the dealership is in full swing now that Chevrolets are on the lot.
“We want our very first Chevrolet customers to be a part of our history; thus, the Bow Tie Club will be an exclusive group to our organization,” she said.