A graduate of Penn State University in State College, Thurby earned a degree in business administration in 1980. His father, Joseph Thurby Sr., was a Dodge and Lincoln-Mercury dealer, founding his store in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1959.
Thurby started out washing cars at age 12 and later worked as a mechanic at his father’s dealership. While in college, he moved into the service department and balanced course work with on-the-job training.
“I know how to take a car apart and put it back together,” he said.
His comprehensive knowledge of how cars work and his experience in all aspects of dealership operations would serve him well when he became a Ford dealer in 1993 and a Lincoln-Mercury dealer in 2003. Today, he owns Thurby Riverside Motor Sales in Markleysburg, the Ford store he established in 1993.
Thurby’s successful dealership has received the President’s Award from Ford Motor Company 20 times, which is a testament to the high level of customer service and satisfaction that he provides, as well as his strong community support.
He also applies his winning leadership formula to the Neighborhood Ford Store, a consortium of regional dealers that work together to promote the Ford brand and various charity initiatives. Thurby currently serves as chair of the Pittsburgh group.
Neighborhood Ford Store recently supported the Warrior Quilt Project, which advances breast cancer awareness at dealership events where quilt squares are decorated, plus sponsors a raffle to win a Warrior Quilt. In addition, the group championed the Pinewood Derby Classic at Carnegie Science Center to support the Boy Scouts of America, Laurel Highlands Council. And Neighborhood Ford Store has presented the WPXI Holiday Parade in Pittsburgh featuring Santa Claus escorted by a fleet of Ford F-150s serving as reindeer.
“We were also able to secure the Ford F-150 as the official truck of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Penguins,” Thurby said. “We are proud to have these two strong community partners.”
As president of the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association’s board of directors, Thurby oversees the Pittsburgh International Auto Show and its charity preview gala, Dancing with the Cars. The event raises money for different charities each year. The group has made significant donations to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh and Morgantown; the Autism Society of Pittsburgh; and Merakey Allegheny Valley School, to name a few.
When the auto show was cancelled due to the pandemic in 2021, Thurby arranged for the Ford lineup of new cars to be previewed on television with the Neighborhood Ford Store’s Road Trip 2021 and subsequently arranged for the Bronco Family Road Tour, a live event with ride-and-drive demonstrations, to come to Pittsburgh.
In addition, Thurby has been instrumental in establishing the Ford Technician Recruitment Program, which he launched at the Pittsburgh International Auto Show in 2018. He hosted a breakfast and insider’s tour of the auto show to engage students of technical schools and local community colleges and inspire them to choose a career as a Ford technician.
He also supports the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation; St. Barnabas Charities (Presents for Veterans program); UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center); Laurel Highlands High School (driver’s education); and many others.
For his good works, Thurby was awarded the St. Barnabas Leadership Award in 2018.
Thurby was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Lisa McIntyre, CEO of the Greater Pittsburgh Automobile Dealers Association. He and his wife, Karen, have two children.