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Joe Mahan Ford
“I credit good timing, leadership training and experience in college, the military and business, plus six days a week, ten hours a day in the dealership for years for my success.”
“The relationships that continue to grow out of 43 years of successful business is most rewarding to me,” nominee Mahan said of his career in the retail automotive industry.
A 1957 graduate of Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock, Arkansas, Mahan received a four-year athletic scholarship to the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway, where he earned a degree in physical education and played football. At college, he took on several leadership roles, including football team captain, junior class president, Chi Nu fraternity president and was selected to be a member of the UCA Royal Rooters, a group comprised of campus leaders.
Mahan served in the United States Navy from 1961 to 1965 and the United States Naval Reserve from 1965 to 1974, reaching the rank of lieutenant commander. While working at Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in Camden, Arkansas, he bought a new Ford at a local store and became friendly with the dealer. “I had a strong desire to own my own business, so I joined the dealership as a salesperson and agreed to purchase another store with the dealer,” Mahan said. He became part-owner of a Ford dealership in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 1969, and then the pair purchased his current dealership in 1974. By 1983, Mahan was sole owner of Joe Mahan Ford in Paris.
“I credit good timing, leadership training and experience in college, the military and business, plus six days a week, ten hours a day in the dealership for years for my success,” he said.
He is proud to have employed his brother, who worked with him for 40 years and is now retired, and his son, Jeff, who grew up in the dealership and is now general manager, as well as his loyal employees and customers, who all share a role in his success. “It’s a great business, one that’s exciting and important,” he said. “Side by side with my wife, Diane, and family, we all did it together.”
A longtime member of the Tennessee Automotive Association, Mahan values the time he has served on the group’s board of directors (since 1985) and as chairman (2007 to 2008). “It has been an honor to participate in decisions that have protected our franchise laws, creating a very successful workers comp self-insured trust, a legal defense fund and more,” he said.
Mahan also gives back to his community and has donated generously of his time, talent and resources to area organizations, including Paris-Henry County Healthcare Foundation (co-chaired fund drives); Henry County Helping Hand (radio auction that raises money for local charities); Plus Endowment (an initiative that provides grants to educators in the Henry County School System and Paris Special School District): Paris-Henry County Heritage Center (local history museum); Boy Scouts of America (assistant Scout master); as well as other school and youth organizations. Mahan is particularly proud of the years he served in leadership positions, as President of the Paris Rotary Club, the Paris-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, and the Paris Country Club.
“It’s rewarding to be part of the city of Paris and Henry County and to earn the respect as a successful business and to play an important part in the economy and leadership of the region,” he said.
Mahan was nominated for the TIME Dealer of the Year award by Bob Weaver, president of the Tennessee Automotive Association. He and his wife, Diane, have two children.