A family-owned Ford dealership in Thomson its doors after more than 60 years in business.
“The economy is just so bad,” owner Bobby Culpepper said, citing financial reasons for closing the dealership that has been run by his family since his father opened the first location in Thomson in 1949.
Culpepper, who served as mayor of Harlem since 2008, said he’s been semi-retired for three or four years while his son, Brian, ran the day-to-day operations.
“That’s one reason I had more time to spend as mayor,” Culpepper said.
After 48 years operating the dealership in Harlem, Culpepper moved the dealership to Nature’s Way, near Interstate 20 in Appling, in 1997. Seven years later, the dealership moved to Thomson.
Culpepper said he plans to continue to keep open a Grovetown used car lot he’s run in association with the dealership for several years.
Whether he becomes fully retired or continues to run the Grovetown lot depends on if his son plans to stay in the car business or pursue other ventures.
“I’ve been in business for a long time,” Culpepper said, adding he is trying to finalize all the details of the closing. “But I’ve never gone out of business yet.”