West Chevrolet celebrates 80 years in Blount County

Gathering for their 80th anniversary celebration of West Chevrolet dealership are Frank Burns, Ken Stalans, Archie Clark, Bruce Cronin, Gene Cable, Charles West, Rick Higginbotham, Steve West, Bob Brooks and Oscar Hobbs.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

Gathering for their 80th anniversary celebration of West Chevrolet dealership are Frank Burns, Ken Stalans, Archie Clark, Bruce Cronin, Gene Cable, Charles West, Rick Higginbotham, Steve West, Bob Brooks and Oscar Hobbs.

This vintage 1955 Chevrolet owned by Steve West was on display for visitors to admire during the 80th anniversary celebration for West Chevrolet. West said this model ushered in the modern era V-8 engine and made Chevrolet one of the most popular brands. This was also the year his father and Jud Murphy went into business together.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

This vintage 1955 Chevrolet owned by Steve West was on display for visitors to admire during the 80th anniversary celebration for West Chevrolet. West said this model ushered in the modern era V-8 engine and made Chevrolet one of the most popular brands. This was also the year his father and Jud Murphy went into business together.

This 1937 two-door Chevrolet sedan owned by Steve West was shined up for folks to admire during the 80th anniversary celebration at West Chevrolet. There were 300,000 of these all-metal sedans sold.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

This 1937 two-door Chevrolet sedan owned by Steve West was shined up for folks to admire during the 80th anniversary celebration at West Chevrolet. There were 300,000 of these all-metal sedans sold.

A 1932 Chevrolet owned by Steve West was on display during West Chevrolet’s 80th anniversary. Only 300 of these vehicles were made. Convertibles were the norm at that time because all-steel vehicles with metal roofs were more expensive, West said.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

A 1932 Chevrolet owned by Steve West was on display during West Chevrolet’s 80th anniversary. Only 300 of these vehicles were made. Convertibles were the norm at that time because all-steel vehicles with metal roofs were more expensive, West said.

A good attitude and a strong work ethic are what has made West Chevrolet successful for 80 years.

That’s the opinion of patriarch Steve West on what has been the secret to success for the Blount County Chevrolet dealership. West was on hand at the 80th anniversary celebration at the Airport Motor Mile dealership.

“It was mainly retirees and employees who camp by,” said West. “And there were certainly some customers and vendors who came by. It was more of an internal celebration, although it was a good sale weekend,” he said.

West said his grandfather, Eckles West, worked hard in the early 1920s and went into business with Homer Davis in 1930 and 1931. His father, Charles West, was raised on the family farm and served in World War II before he returned to Blount County and worked at the family’s dealership.

“He was successful,” Steve West said of his father. “I went to work at age 14. I think if there is any secret to success, it is going to work early, not having a feeling of entitlement and having a desire to succeed and be competitive,” he said. “I used to know the numbers, but the percentage of second generation businesses that are successful are usually about 30 to 40 percent and third generation businesses are about 20 percent successful.”

West said he wasn’t given the family business, and he didn’t give the business to his son, Charles. “I had to buy it from my dad, and Charles bought it from me. That is my retirement,” he said. “We were given opportunity. What you do with that opportunity is up to you. It is a work ethic.”

West said that in addition to working hard, he was always competitive. “I didn’t play sports, but I’ve always enjoyed sports, and I think there is a lot of alignment between sports and business,” he said.

West said his family’s business has been in Blount County a long time, but with success has come a sense of responsibility to the community. “Of whom much is given, and much is expected. We’ve been blessed with family and great employees and good loyal customers,” he said.

West said he has been privileged to watch Blount County change over the years. “When I grew up, we were a one-horse town with Alcoa. Through the Industrial Development Board and the Chamber of Commerce, we’ve certainly broadened the tax base and employment,” he said.

West said that when he was in high school, most of his friends had to leave town and go to work in Atlanta or different places that had better job opportunities. “Today, that is different,” he said. “Maryville College and Pellissippi have had a big impact on that.”

The community activities they volunteered for were causes they believed in such as the Industrial Development Board and the Chamber of Commerce. “We’re also involved with Alzheimer’s Walk, because my dad had Alzheimer’s,” he said.

So what does the future hold for West Chevrolet? “I’ve got three granddaughters. Women are playing a much bigger role in the auto business. There are a lot of successful women in the automobile business now,” he said. “I’m looking forward to them getting involved in the business, if it is something they can do and want to do. It will be up to Charles.”

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