Jones Chevrolet Is Celebrating Its 100th Year In 2020
STARBRICK, Pa. — One of the oldest single family-owned Chevrolet dealerships in the country turns 100 this year.
And it’s in Warren County.
What started as the Sheffield Garage selling Hupmobiles in 1918 turned Chevrolet dealer in 1920, Jones Chevrolet in Starbrick is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
And the word that may best describe that century? Survival.
“In a small community like this, there are so many times questioning ‘Are we going to make it?’ and we have,” Brent Jones, the current dealer principal, explained. “Here we are again in another challenging time. We are surviving it…. There’s a number of organizations and businesses that have been on the edge.
It seems like when that happens, people all come together and we work it out.
“I think it is because people do what they can to help each other out…. When somebody needs something, even if it’s hard for us to justify doing it, we’re always there doing what we can for the community. (I) feel they do the same for us.”
His grandfather – Lloyd Jones – started the business a century ago in Sheffield. One of 15 children – three boys and 12 girls – Jones and both of his brothers became car dealers in the region.
That 1918 garage started selling Hupmobiles from the Hupp Motor Car Company of Detroit and became a Chevrolet dealer two years later.
The business moved around Sheffield – once occupying the site of the current gas station – until a move into Warren where the Country Fair is located today on Pennsylvania Ave. E.
1995 marked their 75th anniversary with Chevrolet and an additional consolidation in 1999 with Wiggers Chevrolet and Mahan Motors brought them to the Starbrick location they operate today.
It’s no surprise that the industry has changed in the last 100 years.
“The biggest change has been the internet,” Brent said. “People used to come in and just start to shop…. Now, almost everybody does their homework online. Pricing is very, very competitive now.”
Brysten Jones, the fourth generation and current general manager, said that has brought about a shift to market-based pricing, rather than reliance on things such as the Kelly Blue Book, and potential customers “kind of bypassing” their expertise in their research.
But Brent said the internet now also gives them an opportunity to expand where they can sell vehicles.
“If we (put a pierce) out there, we might have someone in Texas” show interest, he said. “That gives us an opportunity to be much more competitive with our trade-in values.”
That survival motif has been present recently, as well, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brent explained that they undertook a major remodel several years ago that was a “big investment.
“There were times going through that, we had to relocate. I can remember walking out in our showroom no lights, (it’s) cold” and thinking “Am I going to get through this? Three months who, I walked out in that showroom, no lights on, cold, are we going to get through this all over again?”
“But we’re here. We got through it. Our business is good. Since we’ve opened up (at the) beginning of May, (we have) been very busy.”