Automotive sales

Bill Penney Ford plans opening events this weekend

Ribbon cutting will be 2 p.m. Friday; grand opening set for Saturday

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Bill Penney Ford in Jasper will be holding a ribbon cutting Friday at 2 p.m., as well as a grand opening celebration on Saturday with food and fun, including opening specials across the entire inventory.


Bill Penney Motors has two dealerships (Toyota and Mitsubishi) in Huntsville, as well as one of the largest collision centers in the state, which opened in 2020. They have the number one volume Toyota dealership in the state (based on total retail sales of new Toyotas in Alabama for 2020 per Southeast Toyota distributors) and 82nd in the nation, selling 6,000 cars a year.


"We've wanted to grow our footprint for five or six years," general manager and partner Hunter Johnson said in a recent interview about the company's move into Jasper. "But it about finding the right place, and having the right people to carry your culture to these other towns, and trusting them with the name and the way you do business. We think we have that."


It recently opened Bill Penney Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram across the street from the Ford place. Both are located on Highway 118 (Highway 78).. Both sites, which are about 5 acres each, were previously operated in recent years by Automotive Group of Jasper.


Zach Penney, 39, the dealer operator, is the grandson of the late founder, Bill Penney and the third generation to work at the company. His two partners are Johnson, 41, and Chief Financial Officer Ryan Hensley, 48. All are from Huntsville.


Penney said Jasper fit that criteria to export its culture and business practices, with an emphasis on having fun, selling cars and taking care of employees. That also allows growth for employees.
He noted that Ford appeared to be underrepresented in the local market and the Walker County is positioned for growth, while Johnson noted that Jasper is a "truck town" that should respond well to Ford.


Like the Chrysler store, the Ford dealership was closed for a couple of weeks last fall for renovations and training before reopening.


"We've spent over three quarters of a million dollars opening these two stores," Johnson said. "But you can also talk about how much money that pumps back into this town."


Penney said they knew they would have to support and reinvest in the community. "These (Jasper) stores hadn't had money spent on their employees, on the facilities, and on the customer touch points," he said.


To become stable to the community, he said they knew they had to train the workers. Penney said his company shines with maintenance, in that they get trained technicians and do more training themselves, and getting them the equipment they need.


About 20 people are employed at the Ford dealership. The central office will still be in Huntsville, with each sale run through there. The Ford general manager will be Brandon Mosley. The partners also are in Jasper often.


As for Ford, Penney said there is no better time to join the brand, as the new Bronco has created much buzz and the Mustang Mach-E is now Ford's first mass market electric vehicle. On their part, Ford was excited enough to sent one of their vice presidents to Jasper - possibly for the first time - to make sure the Penney officials were supported.


"It has been exciting," Penney said. "We've been Toyota-centric for so long that we lived and breathed it. To learn about these new franchises, and really to look at the traditions and where it came from and where it is now, and being the F-150 and dominating, and then make the step with the Mustang Mach-E into the electric - it is exciting to see where that brand is going. I would say Ford and Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep, they have kept their product exciting, in their adapting with hybrid and electric, but also they are not scared to throw some horsepower, which is something kind of new to us."


Johnson also noted Ford has the number one truck in the nation.

The website is billpenneyford.com. Showroom hours are 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m on Saturday. The dealership is closed on Sunday. The service hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with the service center closed on the weekend. The address is 4100 Highway 78 East in Jasper.