October 16, 2019 at 4:53 p.m.

Fuqua at 50

Dealer celebrating half century
Fuqua at 50
Fuqua at 50

By JACK RONALD
Publisher emeritus

Rock Fuqua didn’t set out to spend his life in the car business.

“I wanted to be an attorney,” he said last week.

But he’s thrilled to be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Dunkirk dealership his father, Lowell Fuqua, acquired back in the late 1960s.

“Dad’s first fall model year was 1970,” said Rock.

Since it’s the 2020 model year for Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and RAM trucks, it’s time for a 50th celebration.

The sole surviving new car dealer in Jay County will celebrate Thursday, Friday and Saturday, starting with a bit of automotive history and ending with a live band on Commerce Street in downtown Dunkirk.

History on Wheels, a 53-foot double expandable semi-trailer and traveling exhibit will be at the dealership and open to the public Thursday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day.

The Indiana Historical Society’s exhibit “Auto Indiana” will be on display, touching on the history of more than 100 Indiana automakers.


Jay County Chamber of Commerce will make a special awards presentation Friday between 4:30 and 6 p.m. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is set for 4:30 p.m. that day.

Then on Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. there will be refreshments served on Commerce Street from the Glass Capital Café, followed by a live performance by the Gene Deer Band from 6 to 9 p.m.

The dealership has 13 full- and part-time employees, with Scott Manwaring in the role of general manager and chief financial officer.

The auto business, Fuqua said last week, has been one of constant change over the past five decades.

“It’s definitely a learning curve every single day,” he said. “We send our guys to school constantly, both service and sales. … The bar continues to be raised.”

Fuqua cited three major changes in the business in the years since his father bought the dealership from Leon Etchison and others.

“The biggest change is the cost,” he said. “Everything’s up exponentially.”

Then there are the technological changes, with today’s vehicles a far cry from the 1970 Plymouth Barracuda that was the dealership’s first sale.

The third, said Fuqua, is “the way people buy cars today.” 

The internet has become a huge factor, with shoppers using sites like CarGurus.com to search for vehicles all over the country.

“I still like the human connection,” said Fuqua, but those automobile search sites have leveled the playing field for small-town, low-overhead dealers like Fuqua’s. “People buy on the internet. That has helped us tremendously.”

Still, the business is challenging.

“One year in the car business is like a dog year,” quipped Fuqua.

 
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