Business / Economy

Tiffany Ford sells to Greenwood Chevrolet

Family opened the dealership in 1910.
Father and son Charlie and Bob Tiffany, soon after Bob took over the dealership in 1987. Photo provided by Bob Tiffany.
Father and son Charlie and Bob Tiffany, soon after Bob took over the dealership in 1987. Photo provided by Bob Tiffany.
In front of the old Tiffany Ford building at 800 San Benito Street, where Running Rooster is today. The Tiffany family built the building in 1935, the 25th anniversary of the dealership. Photo provided by Bob Tiffany.
In front of the old Tiffany Ford building at 800 San Benito Street, where Running Rooster is today. The Tiffany family built the building in 1935, the 25th anniversary of the dealership. Photo provided by Bob Tiffany.
Three generations of the Tiffany family: Preston, Gile, Charlie, Gile Jr. (who did not work at the dealership), and founder E.W. Photo provided by Bob Tiffany.
Three generations of the Tiffany family: Preston, Gile, Charlie, Gile Jr. (who did not work at the dealership), and founder E.W. Photo provided by Bob Tiffany.
Greenwood Chevrolet is just down the street from the Ford dealership. Photo by John Chadwell.
Greenwood Chevrolet is just down the street from the Ford dealership. Photo by John Chadwell.

After owning and operating the lone Ford dealership in San Benito County for over 100 years across four generations, the Tiffany family sold its business to Greenwood Chevrolet. The sale was completed Aug. 30.

President Bob Tiffany said there will be a transition period where he will be available to assist, and that virtually all of the approximately 30 employees will initially be retained. He did not disclose the sale price. Tiffany still owns the real estate and will lease it to the Greenwoods.

Opened by Bob’s great-grandfather E.W. Tiffany in 1910, Tiffany Ford is the oldest Ford dealership in California and the fifth oldest in the United States.

“In those days, very few people had cars,” Bob said.

E.W., who originally worked in real estate, went to San Francisco to purchase a Model T from Billy Hughson of Hughson Ford, the first Ford dealer in the country and a friend of Henry Ford.

The pair worked out an arrangement where E.W. would sell some Model T’s in Hollister. The Model T business grew and the real estate business didn’t, which led to the development of the Tiffany Ford dealership.

Bob’s grandfather Gile and his uncle Preston took over the business in the 1920s and ran it until Bob’s father Charlie took over in 1956. Bob came along in 1987 to take over from Charlie.

Before running the dealership, Bob got an MBA in history and then worked in the Bay Area, Boston and New York for about 15 years. Despite having an older brother and sister, Bob said he was the obvious person to take over the business.

“I’d never really planned to become a Ford dealer,” he said. “But my dad started talking to me in the mid-’80s, and my wife and I talked about it. We kicked it around and eventually decided to move back to Hollister and take over the dealership.”

As a fourth-generation Tiffany, Bob said that he’d known for some time that the family would eventually sell the business.

“Frankly, there isn’t a fifth generation that wants to take over the dealership,” he said, adding that he has nieces and nephews with their own lives, as do his two sons. “I’m thrilled they have their own passions and lives they want to pursue.”

Bob started seriously exploring selling the dealership a year and a half ago, and said Greenwood Chevrolet was a natural fit.

“It’s a family-run organization as well,” he said. “It was important to me if I could, that it would be sold to people who would carry that as opposed to selling to some big corporate dealership or someone that wasn’t from the community. It’s a good fit all the way around.”

Bob said Tiffany Ford’s history has always been special. It’s been a point of pride being in business for 109 years across four generations.

“No one survives that long without doing something right, having great employees and a lot of great customers all those years.”

He said there’s “no question” the change of ownership will be a big for the community.

“On the other hand, the Greenwoods are good people and I know they are civic-minded as well. I know they take good care of their customers and employees. From that example, there will be a continuity.”

Bob said he hasn’t dwelled on what he’ll do after handing over the dealership, though he still plans to be active in the community through the Ridgemark Tennis Club and Community Foundation for San Benito County, as well as continuing his role as president of the San Benito County Business Council.

“For me, that’s always been a big part of my passion: not just a car business but being involved in the community,” he said. “I foresee myself continuing to be involved, if not more involved in the community.”

 

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Nicholas Preciado

Nicholas Preciado is content manager for BenitoLink, as well as a writer, editor, and journalist. He previously worked at the Hollister Free Lance, Gilroy Dispatch, and Morgan Hill Times newspapers. Nick graduated from Humboldt State University in 2013 with a B.A. in English Writing Practices and a minor in journalism.