MARIETTA — In an era of big box stores, franchise monopolies and big brand bankruptcies, Pugmire Lincoln Marietta is not only surviving, it’s thriving.
“My father, John Pugmire, started the business in Atlanta in 1960, and he built the current facility on Cobb Parkway in 1973,” said Richard Pugmire, president, Pugmire Lincoln Marietta, partner with his son, Austin, in two new Ford dealerships. “We were one of the first dealerships out there. I think what was attractive about this location was the blending together of north Atlanta and Marietta on a very busy thoroughfare.”
This year, Pugmire Lincoln Marietta is celebrating its 54th year in business, and the addition of two new dealerships: the Carrollton Ford dealership was acquired in 2009; and the Ford dealership in Cartersville was recently purchased in late 2013.
“We have customers in those locations already at our Lincoln dealership,” said Pugmire of the expansion. “We also believe in Ford company products and service.”
In a cyclical business like the automotive industry, relationships are key to survival, according to Pugmire.
“The best thing about our business is developing customers that are loyal and repetitive and appreciate the service we give them, and we appreciate them in return,” he said. “The only way to survive the struggles that occur in the downtimes is to keep the business stable so you don’t lose employees or customers.”
Family-owned businesses in the United States comprise 80 to 90 percent of all business. Of these businesses, more than 30 percent of all family-owned businesses survive into the second generation, while 12 percent will still be viable into the third generation and only 3 percent operating at the fourth-generation and beyond, according to Joseph Astrachan, Wachovia Eminent Scholar Chair of Family Business and professor of management at Kennesaw State University.
With a son, Austin, and daughter, Helen Pugmire Skipper, representing the third generation in the business, Pugmire has high hopes for the future.
“Absolutely, we’ll be here for 54 more years,” Pugmire said. “Some dealerships are bought and sold quite readily, but we like it for the long haul because we love the association with good customers and good employees. Our customers in Marietta, Cobb County and metro Atlanta have been very, very good to us and kept us strong. We’re also enjoying our new customer relationships in Carroll and Bartow counties.”